As a member of psychedelic/electronic indie pop outfit Black Moth Super Rainbow, enigmatic Pennsylvania-based artist Tobacco casts summery spells with analog synths and tape machines. As a solo artist, Tobacco employs many of the same styles and strategies that fuel his work with the band, but with a darker, more fractured edge. Integrating elements of hip-hop, electro, and experimental rock, and generally featuring vocoder-masking singing, his tracks are gritty and tape-damaged, yet filled with pop hooks. Following four BMSR full-lengths throughout the 2000s, Tobacco made his solo debut with 2008's Fucked Up Friends. While still active with BMSR, he continued issuing solo albums, including 2014's Ultima II Massage. Additionally, he collaborated with Zackey Force Funk as Demon Queen and Aesop Rock as Malibu Ken.
Tom Fec grew up in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. He began making music as a high school student in the mid-'90s, first as Allegheny White Fish from 1996 to 2000, then as part of the group satanstompingcaterpillars until 2002. Black Moth Super Rainbow started in 2003, releasing music on their own 70s Gymnastics Record Co. Their first release, Falling Through a Field, compiled the best material from the group's days as satanstompingcaterpillars. BMSR signed to Graveface in 2005 and released the EP Lost, Picking Flowers in the Woods that year. The group's fan base steadily increased as they consistently toured and released new material, with 2007's Dandelion Gum regarded as a career highlight.
Tobacco released his full-length debut album, Fucked Up Friends, on the Anticon label in 2008. His next foray into the solo realm came in 2010 with the release, also on Anticon, of Maniac Meat. The album featured guest vocals from Beck, plus a lot of weird noises. Tobacco kept busy the next few years, appearing on a Black Moth Super Rainbow album (Cobra Juicy) in 2012, remixing White Zombie's "Thunder Kiss '65," and producing Demon Queen's Exorcise Tape album. After jumping to Ghostly International, Tobacco released his third solo album, Ultima II Massage, in 2014. Following its release, he began working on another album but soon hit a creative wall. He stepped away from music, going so far as to spend an entire year without plugging in any of his gear, but in time, he rediscovered his musical spark. His next album came quickly and saw him reverting to an old technique of recording tracks on cassette and then dropping them on a sampler. Sweatbox Dynasty was the result, and it was issued by Ghostly in August of 2016.
In 2017, Tobacco's Rad Cult label released Ripe & Majestic, a sprawling 24-track LP of outtakes and instrumentals of tracks or remixes he produced for other artists. Tobacco formed the duo Malibu Ken with rapper Aesop Rock (who appeared on Fucked Up Friends) in 2018, and their self-titled debut arrived on Rhymesayers in 2019. ~ James Christopher Monger