Tobacco of BMSR: "It's Not About Creating a Persona, It's About There Being No Persona"
Master of the mindmelt, Tobacco is probably best known as the enigmatic frontman of Black Moth Super Rainbow, penning the vocoder-drizzled psychedelia of a digital generation that misses Super Nintendo and VHS tapes. While BMSR is often the kind of tuning you'd slap on as you peaked on a mushroom trip in a field of wildflowers, Tobacco's solo efforts are more appropriate for long bike rides that leave you drenched in sweat and nearly dead by the side of the road.
His 2010 release Maniac Meat featured Beck on two tracks, plus the Pennsylvania synthesizer brainiac has worked with Aesop Rock, HEALTH, Rob Zombie and Matthew Dear. With a new album hinted at in mid-2014, not to mention all the dark energy carried over from BMSR's latest release, Cobra Juicy, whatever his upcoming show at Crescent brings will be the fluid of dreams to come.
And if you haven't heard, Tobacco is also behind Demon Queen, a collaboration with Zackey Force Funk of Tucson's Machina Muerte hip-hop collective. Zackey, a whirlwind of falsetto funk and old skool beats, will be opening, and there are rumors that some Demon Queen action will also liquefy your spine.
Anyway, we caught up with Tobacco to talk cool shit like riding BMX bikes and why running a cult could be fun and his new music that he's set to release in 2014, if the world doesn't end.
Up On The Sun: I read somewhere that after collaborating with Beck and Aesop Rock you had checked off every celebrity you wanted to work with. Is that still true?
Tobacco: Yeah. I don't really care about working with anyone else now. I didn't get into music to work with people in the first place. That was never really, like, a goal. Beck was always the ultimate--I thought I would never even get to meet him. I'm sure opportunities will come up, but it's not like I'm gonna seek them out.
You know, something occurred to me a while back. I think you and Richard D. James are kindred spirits. I think you both said in interviews the reason you started making music was just to hear something you hadn't heard before. And you both accomplished that in very different ways.
Yeah and that's still what I'm trying to do. Once I feel like I've heard it all, then it's time to do something else, I guess.
I did a story for Noisey on Demon Queen, so I've met Zackey Force Funk a couple times. What was it about him that when you came up with the project, you knew?
I get a lot of pressure from people to work with rappers. That is what it is, that's fine, but it feels really predictable. I had a bunch of beats I didn't know what to do with and it's like, stuff I didn't use on Maniac Meat or Fucked Up Friends or whatever.
I could either give that to a rapper and have that be this sort of predictable album, or I could give it to a guy like Zackey. Zackey kinda came outta nowhere. This guy from Anticon knew him and got us in touch ... He was the guy I'd never heard of on there, and he had the coolest thing. He doesn't have to try. He just does his thing, you know?
So will this show have any Demon Queen? Because that's not what the flyer implied.
Yeah, we're gonna do separate things and then we're gonna do a little Demon Queen stuff too.
Cool. One of the most attractive things in your music, to me, is the cult and religious themes. And it's interesting to note that a lot of cult leaders like David Koresh, Charles Manson, etcetera, are failed musicians. Do you think if your music hadn't taken off you would have started an alternative religion?
[laughs.] No. I'd have probably just kept riding BMX and doing nothing and hanging out and wrecking myself. Right, that's why I didn't get your call, I was just bike riding--I ripped up my fucking heel. I ruined my shoe. It's all red now.
Well, I accidentally called the wrong number a couple times. What appeals to you about cult leaders like Jim Jones and Marshall Applewhite?
Those people, those figures don't appeal to me at all. I just like the idea--and not that I would ever want that--it's just one of the ideas that's kind of fun to play with in music. The idea of people just giving themselves to something completely, putting your faith in something and actually trying to understand it, even though it may be absurd. It's kind of what I do.
Everything I do is absurd to a degree, and that idea is kind of fun to play around with and think about.