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Kickstarting Cobra Juicy

How crowd-sourcing nearly killed Black Moth Super Rainbow

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In the world of Black Moth Super Rainbow, the most rewarding results come from chance moments, comical mischief, and a surreal mystique, conducted by Tom Fec — the project's lackadaisical quasi-frontman and sole songwriter. Cobra Juicy, Fec's cleanest and most accessible album yet, serves as the culmination of BMSR's trademark synthesis of Vocoded, junk aesthetic symphonies with an ear for outright pop and an eye on the dance floor. But the honed melodies and production of BMSR's fifth proper album was the result of self-realized shortcomings from 2009's Eating Us. The questionable future of the band's relationships with record labels, and the financial limitations set by the ideas haunting Fec's head, ultimately led the project to launch a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund and self-release Cobra Juicy on the band's own Rad Cult Label.

The overall experience left the band at a crossroads, with one route continuing a fruitful narrative of humble psychedelic music and the other a complete cessation of the project. Fec answers questions of future Black Moth material and label affiliation by offering, "We're kind of doing our own thing for now. Who knows? I don't even know if I'll do another BMSR album again."

One thing is certain: BMSR will not look to crowd-sourced support in the future. The financial goal set at $45,000 — eclipsed by compensation-based donations to the tune of $125,634 — brought pressure and heartache with the task of delivering promised rewards to those donations; it's a burden that Fec shirks to repeat. Fec explains, "It was too big and difficult for me. I just didn't have the man-hours or energy. It was really intense. I guess if I came up with an idea one day that was low volume maybe," he adds. "I was definitely happy with the way everything came out, but I wasn't happy with having to pack up a few thousand boxes."

Much of the Kickstarter campaign's backlash stems from Fec's care to detail and obsession with BMSR's over-the-top aesthetic, one that is smaller in reputation than the Flaming Lips but is by no means less ambitious. Making the most of the donation-reward format, Fec offered editions of Cobra Juicy as individually painted, wearable versions of the album in the form of a full head mask, a VHS club featuring used tapes of Fec's favorite films, a one-on-one listening party for Fec's prank call album under the name "Sbarro Hot Topic," and a private roller skating party.

The idea to crowd-source the funds to make Cobra Juicy was born out of necessity, as the band was without a label or the means to record the album properly. "I kind of didn't have a choice this time," Fec says. "I had some big ideas and I couldn't really get signed by any labels so it was kind of the only option."

But by raising its own backing for the project, BMSR addressed past missteps caused by deadlines and expectations set by outside parties and release schedules, stumbles that have even caused Fec to question the band's future itself.

Although he admits, Eating Us is the only album he's done where there was a deadline, he'd made a few writing mistakes, rushed himself, and gotten a little lazy. "I wanted to distance myself from BMSR since it wasn't perfect anymore," he says.

Throughout Cobra Juicy, songs such as "Windshield Smasher," "Like A Sundae," and "Hairspray Heart," were written and recorded solely by Fec over the course of a few years, without the intention of being heard outside of a few close friends. But as feedback became more positive, he realized the pieces deserved to come out as a proper LP. Since then, the group's future lies completely in Fec's hands, and that future is unknown. "I'm sure there will be another BMSR album eventually, but I don't have any plans to do it anytime soon. I don't like when projects go on for so long because they start getting shitty."

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