Your Move, Mr. Coyne – A competitive streak drives creativity for Black Moth Super Rainbow

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In 2008, Black Moth Super Rainbow mastermind Tobacco reissued his band’s Dandelion Gum on vinyl. The first 1,000 featured a scratch-and-sniff album sleeve. Since then, he’s been trying to one-up himself (and Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips) with each release. Accordingly, 2009’s Eating Us featured a limited-edition “hairy” version with a CD encased in synthetic hair.

For the new Cobra Juicy, the band opted to create limited-edition vinyl masks modeled after the album cover. Each mask is blacklight-responsive and features a USB “tooth,” containing music, videos, artwork and other goodies. “We wanted to do edible, but The Flaming Lips beat me to that,” Tobacco laments. “I figured the next step would be something wearable.”

Tobacco also called out his good friend Coyne, whom he’s toured with, for copying his “hairy” album idea when The Flaming Lips released a special-edition furry album cover for 2009’s Embryonic, which was released five months after Eating Us. “They put out a hairy CD in October of 2009 and claimed they invented it, but they didn’t invent shit,” Tobacco says. “I text Wayne every once in a while and I haven’t really told him that I’m competing with him, but in my mind I am.”

It took Tobacco a few years to find a company that could create the masks he envisioned and stumbled upon Specter Studios, which is just 10 minutes away from his home in Pittsburgh. He opted to raise money for the project via Kickstarter rather than going with a traditional record label — a more popular option for free-spirited musicians these days. “I’d been wanting to break out and do something myself, and at the same time no one wanted to sign Black Moth,” Tobacco says. “But it worked out because I actually did want to do this. Being undesirable was a good thing in this case.” – J.G.

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