By Dylan Toigo
Halifax-based robo-pop conductor Rich Aucoin brings his spectacular live show to Victoria’s Lucky Bar March 3.
Aucoin is touring in support of his latest album We’re All Dying To Live, which is compiled of contributions from roughly 500 friends, fellow musicians and whoever else he happened to spend time with while touring back and forth across Canada. As one might imagine, amassing that much material and editing it down to cohesive songs takes an incredible amount of perseverance and time. Almost four years according to Aucoin.
“There was a lot of ‘oh my God this is a silly amount of work’ moments,” Aucoin says over the phone from California where he just wrapped up a rash of shows ranging from house parties to a Canadian music showcase leading up to the Grammys. “When I got home from the first tour and had a few hundred hours of peoples’ parts to go through… that first moment felt a lot like when I was biking across Canada. I wasn’t really a cyclist and when I hit the mountains for the first time I was like, ‘oh fuck, what have I done?’”
Musically, We’re All Dying To Live stirs together piano-pop, synth-heavy dance music, orchestral elements and arrangements and lots of gang vocals. Although the record officially has 22 tracks, a number of those act as intros, outros and musical interludes. Shaping the album in this way allows it to flow like a system of rivers, seamlessly transitioning from the fast rapids of songs like “Reconciliation,” to the calm, peaceful streams of instrumental tracks like “Watching Herzog And Listening To The Idiot.”
Like many opera and classical compositions, the album begins with an overture of sorts before it launches into “All You Cannot Live Without,” a song that slowly builds layer by layer until it culminates in crashing drums, ringing horns and chanting vocals.
The dance party begins on the album’s fifth track “Brian Wilson is A.L.i.V.E.” A groovy, fuzzed-up bass line induces an almost inescapable urge to move one’s body, while the catchy repeating chorus line, sung with the help of a children’s choir, implores the listener to join in.
Without a doubt, the most straight-up electronic track on the album is “P:U:S:H.” Vocal effects give Aucoin’s voice a robotic lilt as the distortion drenched beat drives the song forward. Also, this track works as a perfect example of the album’s collaborative nature, amazingly using samples from 30 different drummers.
Aucoin’s ambitious creativity is equally apparent in his live performances.
“I think about what I’d like to see at a show and then I try and do that for the people who come to see me,” Aucoin says. “Always doing something a little different I think is a good thing to set out to do, just to give someone a new experience.”
Aucoin’s last show in Victoria included confetti cannons, flashing microphones and a gym-class parachute. He also spent a large portion of the show dancing and singing with fans in the crowd.
“I heard someone say [the live show] is like going to the best birthday party as a kid, just you’re drunk,” Aucoin says with a chuckle. “I always says it’s like going to do karaoke to songs you don’t know but will learn during the show with all your friends.” M
Rich Aucoin with Sidney York
Sat., March 3
Tickets $13 at Lyle’s Place and Ditch Records