Thomas Fec is the frontman of Black Moth Super Rainbow, and also creates music under the name Tobacco. Tobacco just released it’s fourth full-length album, Sweatbox Dynasty, which warps 80’s electronic synthesizers into a unique infectious dissonance. Sweatbox succeeds in going into even deeper and darker place sound than previous Tobacco albums, which might be prohibitive to newcomer listeners. However if you enjoy being sucked down the rabbit hole of skewed pop and sinister synths, then feast your ears on Sweatbox Dynasty. While Thomas has been reluctant to reveal much of his personal life, we were able to get insight into his creative process as well as his life in Pittsburgh.
Is there a ritual that you have to go through to create the environment in which you make music?
There is not ritual or anything. It is just me. As much as I don’t try and make it about myself, it is just me. I can’t think of any other way to do it. Its hard to try and do something, it has to be what it is.
You’re a resident of Pittsburgh, do you think the city has a discernible influence in your music?
I think I could be anywhere and do what I do. I’m sure my childhood has something to do with it, but I really feel I could live anywhere and do what I do.
Trent Reznor is from the same area as you, was he an influence on your music at all?
I listen to Nine Inch Nails but never thought as it as an influence, until I listened to their last album and heard something in their melodies that I do, and thought that must have been where I got it. There is something he does, especially in his vocal melodies, where he hits notes that are unexpected. That’s something I always do and never thought him as an influence until I went back and listened to them.
I find the cover art of all of your albums interesting. How did you arrive at Sweatbox’s cover imagery?
I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it’s just a head. It’s just a really weathered mask that I have. I think it may be Jackie Stallone. The funny thing is that I bought it in Austin at a costume store called Lucy In Disguise.
So you wrote a few tracks for your latest album and then took a year hiatus before you finished, how did you fill that time?
Hanging out a lot and, not really doing anything. I was just getting my head back together and trying to get over myself, and the boredom that I was feeling. I needed to recharge and I think I need that more and more as I go along. I need to be outside of this world that I am making because it can be intense sometimes. Looking back on it, it almost feels like a wasted year, but I needed it.
Which song on Sweatbox are you most proud of?
It’s hard because this album feels like one piece for me. I really like the last song a lot, “Lets Get Worn Away.” That’s how I think and process music and as I go on, I tend to get bored with music that is linear and I really like to playing around with time. I think it comes off as a medley. It’s like taking all the best parts of a bunch of songs and not having to listen to the bullshit to get to it. I totally understand it doesn’t make a lot of sense to everyone, but that was my super self-indulgent track that I had fun on.
How do you decide to do remixes for?
That decision is made pretty easily for me. It’s whoever will pay me the most. I turn down most requests because I don’t like doing remixes. I turn down most offers because I don’t like doing remixes but very once in awhile I’ll do one. The exception is doing remixes for my friends, I don’t charge them, and I am more passionate about it I think.
Your music is featured on Silicon Valley, how did that happen?
They approached us about it and had everything in mind about what they wanted to use. I usually only like to be involved in things that I like, and I got lucky in that I love that show. It’s not very often that you can actually be proud of being featured on something like this. I got bored with cable and got rid of it but I still watch Silicon Valley. I think I got really lucky there.
As a purveyor of nightmarish music, what scares you?
I can get into some weird psychological territory here but I’m not sure. The scariest thing to me is being in a coma where you are aware of everything but can’t communicate. You can see and hear everything that’s happening but cant interact. That’s my greatest fear.
NYC or LA?
LA in a heartbeat.
Night or Morning?
Marilyn Manson or Nine Inch Nails?
NIN, it’s not even close.
Crystal Castles, Health, or Death Grips?
Death Grips for sure.
Coffee or Tea?
Wine or Beer?
Beatles or Stones?
Neither, they are both so bad.