The psychedelic electro indie popsters of Pittsburgh’s Black Moth Super Rainbow have had quite a year. Since the May release of their album, Dandelion Gum, the enigmatic quintet (vocalist Tobacco, keyboardist Father Hummingbird, drummer Iffernaut, bassist Power Pill Fist, and keyboardist Seven Fields of Aphelion) has caused a critical stir at South by Southwest (where they shared a stage with The Octopus Project) and hit the road with the Flaming Lips. Meanwhile, Dandelion‘s conceptually freaky mix of folk, electronica, and psychedelic noise pop has caught the attention of everyone from Rolling Stone to the Village Voice. In keeping with their puzzling personas, the band is performing at the I.V. Theater on Friday, September 28, as part of the Magic Lantern Film Series, giving students a reason to celebrate the first day of classes. Below, Tobacco gives us a little back story on the band.
You’re just finishing up a tour with the Flaming Lips, who are kind of the reigning ambassadors of psychedelic pop. How was the experience? It’s been crazy good. The band and its crew have been the most generous and all-around nice people we’ve ever worked with. I hope they ask us out again.
Did the Lips impart any particularly poignant words of wisdom? Yes, a bunch, but I wanna keep that stuff secret for now.
Could you give me a little backstory on the band and how the monikers originated? It’s been just me recording for a long time, and we finally became the band we are now about four years ago. It started off as noise, then went to acoustic guitar, and when the full band started we turned to analog synths and stuff. The monikers have been around-some before others. : I think I might have been the last to come up with one, and that was just last year. They all stem from everyone’s own music that they make.
A pretty large chunk of the vocals on Dandelion Gum are distorted to be nearly incomprehensible. Was there a particular reason behind doing that? I used to write lyrics that were lyrics, and people would start telling me what they were interpreting-since the vocoder is sometimes hard to understand-and sometimes other peoples’ interpretations were better or meant more than what I came up with. So I really like the idea of having words that sound like something, but the listener can create. I give just enough to give you an idea, and then you can come up with the rest.
How would you describe the sound of Black Moth Super Rainbow? It is psychedelic, I guess, but it’s not lava lamps and hemp like most bands we would get lumped in with. It’s electronic, but it’s not cold and sequenced like a lot of electro. I guess it’s some kind of pop music.
What could someone expect from your live show? We’re not a laptop band like a lot of people still think. We play everything, and nothing’s prerecorded. And it’s heavy on the projections sometimes.
I’ve heard that when you guys first started touring, a couple of the band members were still toiling away at “normal” jobs. Is that still true? It’s kind of impossible to hold onto jobs, so none of us have them, but I’m sure most of us will get new ones when we get home. People think you are rich because you’re touring with a band like the Flaming Lips, but it’s just not true at all.
KCSB and Magic Lantern Films present Black Moth Super Rainbow at I.V. Theater on Friday, September 28, at 8 p.m. Visit myspace.com/magiclantern for details.