Cycling For A Cause; An Interview with Rich Aucoin

All was set for Rich Aucoin to leave for his next stop on his ever long touring across the United States.  From all accounts, his latest stop in Oklahoma City and Norman were raucous and filled with freeing inhibitions.  Aucoin has made quite the name for himself with performing shows that leave you drenched with sweat and exhausted in part due to his dance party anthems.  The shows have come and gone and now, it’s time for Aucoin to hit the road once again.  Aucoin’s latest EP Hold is a stark contrast to some of his earlier efforts.  The four track EP was recorded across Canada, from Vancouver’s REC Room to Halifax’s Sonic Temple, and features Broken Social Scene’s Justin Peroff.  Hold in a lot of ways is viewed as new beginnings for Aucoin; the EP showcases unique instrumentals and vocal sampling techniques that haven’t been explored till now.

His mode of transportation isn’t exactly what you would expect from someone out touring for an extended period of time.  Instead of going about traveling in the traditional van filled with gear, Aucoin is relying on his bicycle to help reach his tour stops.  This isn’t something out of the ordinary for the Canadian musician.  In fact, this is the second time that Aucoin has bravely ventured out of the comfortability of driving.  For his 2007 journeys in support of his debut EP Personal Publication, Aucoin traveled on a bike all across his home country.  He did so to help raise money for Childhood Cancer Canada Foundation, a charity he picked himself due to the constraints on the budget and small operational options.  This time around, Aucoin is focusing on raising awareness on mental health.  Bicycling from California to Pennsylvania, Aucoin is donating 100 percent of his tour proceeds to Mental Health America all while supporting Hold.  The cross-country tour, titled Press On, at its finale will reach a total of 3417.542 miles.  Fans are being encouraged to donate Aucoin if they would like to by clicking on his Crowdrise campaign, which can be found here.

We were able to catch up with Aucoin recently during one of his days out cycling.  We discussed a variety of topics that include going about life and music on his own terms, what’s he learned about being on the road, and much more.

What was the moment when you discovered that you wanted to be a musician?

I guess while doing it. I had always wanted to go to film school and become a filmmaker but I realized making a film on my own was a lot more difficult than making an EP of music on my own. I compromised by scoring Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas so I could still feel like I was working on a film. That’s something I’ve done the whole time since then too. All my music scores to films.

You have always gone about doing things on your own terms, creatively.  Do you find it boring in some aspects to just go about your work by the book?

It wouldn’t be boring but I’ve just always felt the best thing I can offer is at least something new that I haven’t seen done before.

You have recorded music that syncs up with classics such as How The Grinch Stole Christmas and The Little Prince.  What inspired you to take on such an endeavor?

My love of film scores and seeing a midnight screening of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon synced up with The Wizard of Oz. I knew I wanted to make all my music to sync to film after that experience.

You did a tour that spanned across Canada not long ago by cycling to each venue.  How did this idea come about?

I had toured in my brother’s band, The Hylozoists, across Canada and it was so fast paced and hectic with 8 of us in the van so I thought to take the opposite approach and going slowly and solo would be a fun way to start my touring life.

You are cycling again in support of the new album, this time touring all around the United States.  What did you learn about the first cycling tour that you will incorporate into this latest venture?

Pack light. Take the second to pause and see something. Realize that this is the last time you’ll be many of these places.

When you went on the cycling tour, what was it that you discovered about yourself?

That I was a cyclist. I hadn’t really ridden further than a mile ever before taking that on.

When you go to work on new material, what’s your thought process as for what to do?

I make really detailed notes about the film I’m syncing with and thematically what I’m trying to get across before starting lyrical content and melodies.

 

Your laptop was stolen in Costa Rica back in 2016, which contained music for Hold.  How close were you to finalizing the songs? 

It was in 2017, I was just about to start doing the real tracking for the record at studios so much of it had been written and demoed out. Another loss was about a year’s worth of little ideas so probably lost stuff that would be on subsequent records too.  

With the unfortunate circumstance came you being able to redo the album all over again.  Did you go about it as if those songs on your computer were never created in the first place?

My songs have always had like 10 drafts before they’re completed anyway so everything was subject to change but this was more drastic because I was only able to retain things I mentally retained. “The Dream” and “The Middle” were in pieces up in Toronto so much of those were saved. “The Fear” is almost a completely new song from what it was before. The only thing that remained is the rhythm.

How long did the reworked version of Hold take for you to put together?

4 Months

Do you look at the experience of losing your laptop in some ways as a good thing?

No. At least not for me. Probably was a great day for the people who robbed me.

You are raising awareness for mental health by donating 100% of tour proceeds to Mental Health America and The Canadian Mental Health Association.  Why is this cause so important to you?

I’m trying to raise money for everything I can by the end of my music career but Mental Health felt like a good fit for this tour spreading happiness as the show has been described as a natural anti-depressant.

On the cover of Hold and a handful of your pics and videos, a skull is highlighted.  What’s the meaning behind this?

It’s all leading up to what the album is about. So stay tuned. Same Rich time. Same Rich channel.

What is the one thing that you are still wanting to do, music or not?  

Make films.

(Rich Aucoin’s EP Hold is out now.)

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