Dreams wet and dry, nightmares and fantasies and whatever lies between all come together in the music of Pennsylvania’s Black Moth Super Rainbow, which has the headlining slot at Savannah’s first–ever Graveface Fest, Oct. 27 at Southern Pine Co. It’s 11 hours of music and madness.
It’s haunting, foggy pop music — by definition, anyway — based around trance beats, robotic techno and impossibly sublime, trippy hooks.
There is, in effect, no Black Moth Super Rainbow. The “band” is Tom Fec, who goes by the name Tobacco. He writes, plays and sings nearly everything on BMSR records.
The Graveface Fest is the first show on a tour in support of the new Cobra Juicy album. The “live band” includes, among others, Ryan Graveface himself on guitar.
“I was never in a band, I could never be in a band,” says Tobacco. “I never wanted to. I guess I come from a difference place; I was never passionate about playing music. I only wanted to write what I wasn’t hearing.
“I could never be in someone else’s band, or a band that was a giant democracy. I only want to do what I want to do, that I’m not hearing. I never had any kind of music training or anything; I had to push myself to learn how to do what I wanted to hear at the time.”
Tobacco, who’s rarely (if ever) seen without some sort of mask, does the vocals through a synthesizer called a vocoder.
“The first Black Moth album was mainly my actual voice,” he explains. “And I pretty much did everything I could with it, because I’m not a singer. The vocoder was my way of getting past all my limitations. I hear things that I just can’t do.
”I’m not the kind of person to hire a singer, or work with a singer. So I’ll figure out a way to do it myself. The vocoder was the only way I could hit certain notes and textures, and really get what I wanted out of it.”
This kind of DIY, experimental psychedelia has a sizeable audience, around the world, via indie labels like Savannah’s own Graveface Records.
Don’t try to explain it to your mom. She won’t get it.
“One of the things that drives me crazy,” Tobacco says, “is when someone is like ‘You know, I do country, or I do this electronic thing with influences by ....’ Everyone’s so labeled. I do all I’m capable of doing. So I’d rather someone just listen to it.”
The music, he adds, tells him what to do. “I just kind of let it flow without thinking about it. It’s weird.
“It’s almost like possession or something, like these ideas are gonna come out. And if they don’t come out of me, they’re gonna find someone else. They’re gonna find a new host.”
As for the rest of Dia de la Graveface: “I’ve been obsessed with Halloween since I was a little kid,” says Ryan Graveface, who owns and operates both the Graveface record label and a “records and curiosities” shop on W. 40th St. “Any excuse to trick people, or force people into expressing themselves in a weird way, I’m into.”
The man himself will play guitar with headliners BMSR, and will be onstage with his own Dreamend and Marshmallow Ghosts.
And ... introducing the Casket Girls, modeled after one of Graveface’s real–world favorites, the Shangri–La’s (“Leader of the Pack”). “They would reference death a lot, and tragedies, and horrible, horrible things,” he explains. “And oftentimes their music was really upbeat.
“So I just always wanted to create a band that had moments of that, but then add kind of what I was writing with Marshmallow Ghosts — the spooky keyboard and really super, super simple arrangements. I wanted it to be a four– or five–girl group, and I would just be a masked figure in the back playing the music.
“But I found the perfect duo, these local Savannah sisters. And they’re just the coolest and the most talented. So there was no need to think about adding any others.”
As the festival was germinating, Graveface took on Cusses’ Angel Bond — whose organizational talents are well–known — as a collaborator.
“I live in my own world, which has its pros,” he explains. “But it definitely has its huge, huge cons. One of those cons is a lack of connectivity to the community, outside of literally opening my front door on a day–to–day basis. I work 20 hours a day, so I don’t have a chance to even leave, for the most part.”
“I’m not an idiot, so I understand that having local onboard is a logical thing,” Graveface says. “From a business point of view. I don’t put a lot of thought into things, I just know that exactly what I want. And that’s why I knew I should collaborate with her, because if I was the only one scheduling and booking this thing, it would just be 14 bands that no one’s ever heard of.
“I’m going to have a lot of people from out of town coming in for the festival, so it’s good for them to hear the local acts as well. So it works both ways, obviously.”
Among other things, Bond pulled in several local bands for the event, her own included.
One of Graveface’s latest creations is a lavish, full–color hardcover book of illustrations by Rhode Island artist William Schaff, who designs just about all of the label’s creations.
From Blacksheep Boys to Bill Collectors, in a run limited to 1,000 copies, was funded through a Kickstarter campaign. It comes with a 10” slab of vinyl with music by Jason Molina.
Schaff himself will have a table at the festival. “He’s going to make really cheap masks,” says Graveface, “painting and spray–painting masks for kids and adults in his deeply dark way.”
Add to this David Liebe–Hart’s puppet show, all–day horror movies, food and bev vendors, a costume contest and a “mini” haunted cause.
Cusses are performing, as well as KidSyc@Brandywine, Winter Sounds, Deep Search, Stargazer Lilies, Dosh, Serengeti and others. And Tobacco will spin a late–night DJ set.
Kickoff is at 2 p.m. Tickets, $20, are on sale at graveface.com, and at the store.