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TOBACCO: Put This in Your Pipe and Smoke It

The Vista
Musician Interview

Tom Fec, aka TOBACCO, is your new favorite musician, and I’ll tell you why. He can never have a bad singing voice, he’s comparable to greats such as Daft Punk and Ratatat and his music is a little psychedelic, a little hip hop/dubstep/whathaveyou and a lot badass; some might say it’s like nothing you’ve ever heard before (unless you’ve listened to his first solo album, F*cked Up Friends, or his side project, Black Moth Super Rainbow).

Fec comes across as a pretty stand up, creative guy. He claims that he tries to make simple, catchy songs that are pop-esque, but when you listen to his albums, they are nowhere near the type of pop music you’ve grown accustomed to. Simple and catchy yes, but Britney status? Never.

“It’s just what I want to hear at the time,” Fec said when explaining what his music means to him. “It gets harder and harder to impress myself with the stuff that I do.”

And that is understandable. When the only live instruments are synths and drums, and the rest of the sounds are voice distortion and samples, some musicians would probably get stuck in a rut. But not Fec. Fec’s newest album, Maniac Meat, to be released on Anticon Records May 25, is quite impressive. Featuring the vocals of Beck on two of the tracks and providing listeners with some pretty intriguing lyrics and moods, the album is what I would consider a workout pumper-upper, a pre-party makeup putter-onner, a driving to school on a Tuesday ready-for-business attitude adjuster or just a simple passing the time thought-provoker/thought-allower. Notice I didn’t say a crazy soundtrack for your trip, a descriptor commonly used for his side project, Black Moth Super Rainbow’s music. This is very different.

Speaking of that side project, which consists of more than one member, Fec has said in the past that he prefers working alone as opposed to collaborating with others. So why does he collaborate? “Sometimes I get in a funk and it’s good to hear what someone else can add. I feel like I started of on this weird mission to prove something to myself, and I think overall I really prefer working alone. But every once in a while you just wanna hear what someone else can do, and that can send you on a new path.” As far as the new album and working with Beck goes, “I was imagining his voice on it and that changed the way I was writing it, and then it turned out that months later I was able to actually do that and I think it was for the better.”

And what an amazing result that had. Beck’s signature voice can be heard on “Fresh Hex” and “Grape Aerosmith,” two of the many standout tracks on Maniac Meat. Others include the opener, “Constellation Dirtbike Head,” which boasts the lyric “Don’t eat the berries around you” (which I really like for some reason), “Mexican Icecream,” which brings to mind a dirtier Daft Punk and the summer season with lyrics like “You are my favorite day/ I’ll bring the sun to you” repeated over and over, “Sweatmother,” which has a ‘90s hip hop feel until Fec’s distorted vocals kick in and the overall tone becomes much darker, and “Overheater,” which is just pleasantly cool.

That’s not to say the other tracks are mediocre. They are just a little more violent, so to speak. For example, “Unholy Demon Rhythms,” which is a song one might hear when traveling between the different circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno, and also “Heavy Makeup,” the longest track on the album, whose lyrics consist mainly of “You got sick from a lolli lolli lollipop/ You feel free when you’re killing me.” This track brought to mind the film Hostel. Enough said.

I’d recommend this album if you’re a fan of Ratatat but think it can be a little weak, and if you’re a fan of Daft Punk but want something that makes you nod your head rather than dance your ass off. TOBACCO never gets boring and sounds new with every listen. Want to experience this mind-blowing music live? Get yourself to the Casbah on Wednesday May 24 (that’s next week) to see TOBACCO, The Hood Internet and Nice Nice. According to Fec, “It’s more like a DJ set, but it’s a little more than that. We’re developing this one character to kind of play along with the set. It’s mostly visual projection behind us, but I’m gonna have this other person…I don’t wanna say for sure what he’s gonna do but it’s gonna be fun.”

Aren’t you glad your only class Thursday is at 2:30 in the afternoon? I am.