Let me introduce you to a musician who may not have crossed the limelight, but who makes great experimental and non-commercial electronic music. Known as Tobacco, Thomas Fec is the front man of the indietronica band Black Moth Super Rainbow working with analog synthesizers, vocoders, tape machines, and guitar. Aside from his prolific work with BMSR as well as a solo artist, Tobacco has released three albums, three EPs, and several remixes for artists like Genghis Tron, Health, and Rob Zombie.
Recently Nickelodeon’s Animation Studio put out a promo video showing off their work place, the employees keeping busy, and many of the behind-the-scenes work for shows like Spongebob Squarepants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Sanjay & Craig, and more. In the video, they featured a song that sounds exactly like a song from Tobacco’s second album Maniac Meat called “Creepy Phone Calls” without crediting the artist. Could this mean that Nickelodeon pulled a fast one on Tobacco?
According to an interview with Vice, Tobacco went on to describe that he felt no animosity towards Nickelodeon for taking the track. He was more bothered by the quality of the track in the promo video than any implications of stealing from the big television network. “Honestly, like everyone’s telling me that I should care, but I kinda don’t care…they probably just hired some guy to just give them a song,” according to Tobacco.
Turns out that Tobacco is absolutely right. In a statement from Stereogum, music producer Eric Robertson spoke out on how he made the “Creepy Phone Calls” remake.
“I was originally commissioned to write music for the Nickelodeon vid. The reference track was obviously was “Creepy Phone Calls”. I produced seven different songs/versions in a similar style to use for the vid, but I wouldn’t rip it off so apparently they found someone else who would. It isn’t Nickelodeon’s fault. Nickelodeon hired it out to an ad agency and the agency made all the calls. I won’t rip stuff off just to get a check.”
From the time this story originally broke, Eric Robertson has asked Stereogum to take down that statement. Also, the promo video has been taken down due to “copyright grounds” from Viacom. Viacom owns Nickelodeon and probably made the pull to avoid any future lawsuits and legal actions from Tobacco or the label Anticon (which published two of Tobacco’s albums). Although you cannot see the Nickelodeon Animation Studios promo video, you can still check out the original song “Creepy Phone Calls” with a very creepy music video to accompany the tune. Let us know what you think of this entire debacle and who’s at fault (if anyone is at fault).