Halifax’s Rich Aucoin has always believed in turning the dial on life up to 11. Over the last five years, Aucoin toured Canada on his bicycle, won the hearts of indie fans all over the world, and released his debut album, We’re All Dying to Live, which featured 500 guest musicians. He’s most famous for his outrageous concerts that feature everything from rainbow parachutes to screaming goats.
Currently touring North America and Europe, we talked to Aucoin about exploding confetti Death Stars, the sound of his next album and finding one’s place in the universe.
I hear you’re planning to have a Death Star in your show.
Yes, that will be a continual work in progress until it happens. I like to crowd surf with an actual surfboard. What I want to do is bring a bow and some arrows onto the surfboard and fire at a bunch of giant balloons filled with confetti. Then they’ll explode like the Death Star over the crowd.
Every tour you bring along so many props, not to mention your gear. How do you carry all this stuff?
It’s crazy. I was carrying around a shitload of stuff in the summer, and my bag got lost a few times. I started to panic because I’m flying so much this fall — particularly in Europe — so I stopped checking in bags. Now I take everything in two carry-ons. I’ve got one change of clothes and the rest of it is guitar pedals, a vocoder, confetti, a projector and a parachute.
And you do this all by yourself. When are you going to get hitched to a permanent band?
I’d like to eventually tour with a band. You know, drive around in a van. On this tour I’ve been really happy to go in by myself, make sure everything is good, and then call in reinforcements. Usually I have at least a drummer.
What’s your next album going to sound like musically?
It’s fast, up-tempo, 150 BPM, pop songs with lots distortion and gang vocals. Like my last album, there will be small interludes between songs. One song will lead into the next. It also syncs up to the animated version of The Little Prince. Thematically, the album deals with friendship, being responsible in our relationships to one another, and the absurdity of life.
Your last album dealt with similar subject matter, despite being a soaring dance record. Do you enjoy that thematic contrast?
Definitely. I’ve always been a fan of Brian Wilson. He wrote pop songs with more meat in the lyrics than a typical, “we-should-hang-out” love song. For me, that’s what I feel comfortable singing. I treat my songs like they’re papers and I’m still in school.
Could we ever see a depressing Elliott Smith-type record from you?
[Laughs] If something really depressing happens in my life, maybe. Bad shit’s happened to me but I’m still in really good spirits. I’ve got five moments a day where I look around and get really introspective. It’s so amazing that we’re able to experience any bit of this life. I jokingly start every show with the caption, “It would suck to not exist,” but life is crazy. I’ll have these moments when I’m looking at a pen and think: “Awesome.” That feeling is brought about by the realization of your own place in the universe.
You live a pretty crazy lifestyle. Are you writing The Legend of Rich Aucoin? In other words, what’s it all for?
I think it’s just fun to do cool shit [Laughs]. Seriously, though, I constantly think that you could die at any moment. It’s good to always have something to be pushing yourself towards. I’m always trying to do something that I’m not quite sure I can pull off, but go for it anyway. Even if I mess up, at least I tried to do something that was very difficult and potentially awesome.
Related >> Rich Aucoin's Video for "It"
Related >> Polaris Shortlist Announced