Electro-pop with a flair of DIY Punk attitude, @RichAucoin travels the globe preaching the power of now and the joy of community. With confetti cannons and a technicolor parachute, Rich Aucoin engulfs even the most cynical with an irresistible presence and a playful affirmation of life.

On March 16, Rich Aucoin released the new Hold EP, and announced his PRESS ON tour. As part of the tour, Aucoin is bicycling across the United States, to raise awareness for mental health by donating 100% of tour proceeds to Mental Health America and The Canadian Mental Health Association. Aucoin will be joined by bandmates in each city as he pedals across the deserts, mountains, and forests of America.

@MusicNews360 corresponded with Aucoin as he biked across Southern California (hopefully, he was not typing while on the bike!). We chatted about Eckharte Tolle, Koala Bears, and Fabreezing the Parachute. Check below for excerpts from our conversation.

Website // Bandcamp // SoundCloud // Instagram // Twitter

 

Rich Aucoin – The Middle (Official Video)

MN360° – What is your astrological sign?

Virgo

MN360° – What is your spirit animal? How does it manifest in daily life?

Koala stay calm

MN360° – If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

The ability to know what people are listening to on their headphone while they walk by.

MN360° – How does Canada produce such great music?

Ketchup flavoured chips

 

 

MN360° – Have you noticed more Americans moving to Canada, as of late?

No but welcome !

MN360° – What first sparked your interest in music?

Seeing a symphony play Rhapsody in Blue at 5 had a big impact on me for sure.

MN360° – What was your first instrument? Did someone gift it to you?

I think recorder might have been before I started piano at 6. My parents gave me the recorder. Mom still has the piano.

MN360° – Who is your least obvious musical influence?

Wu Tang

MN360° – What is your favorite Beach Boys song? Why? Where can we hear it in your music?

Good Vibrations. Just such an ambitious recording attempt. There are hours of cutting room floor versions of the song too. I’ve heard a bunch of those too. You can hear its theremin melody replayed on theremin in my song Brian Wilson Is ALiVE.

MN360° – What is your process for writing/recording new music?

I score my songs to movies.

MN360° – When was the first time you brought out the parachute during a performance? What inspired its introduction?

2009 NXNE. Saw it online while buying something on EBay and then thought it’d be fun to do in the show.

MN360° – How do you keep the parachute from not smelling stinky?

Fabreeze

MN360° – How do you decide on the movie clips you show during performance?

Look for scenes with the same emotional content.

MN360° – What is the story behind your ‘Gender is Over’ shirt?

It’s a great fundraiser for trangsgender equality groups. Check them out at www.genderisover.com

MN360° – Are you a fan of Eckharte Tolle?

I’ve looked at his books at my mom’s.

 

MN360° – How often do you have to reload the confetti cannons?

Every shot!

MN360° – What is your ‘truth’?

“Don’t be a dick”

MN360° – Do you believe in magic? Can you give an example?

Yes. The feels you get from Can You Get To That by Funkadelic

 

MN360° – What percentage of your songs would you say are autobiographical?

42%

MN360° – Can you tell us more about your bike tour across the US?

LA to NYC. starting with getting some kicks on 66.

MN360° – What is the furthest you’ve ridden your bike in a single day?

170km

MN360° – Any dreams/visions/insights experienced while riding for that length of time?

Please get off the highway before the sunset.

MN360° – Do you see a connection between performance and religious experience? Does rhythm play a role in that?

Both are communal joy.

MN360° – How did you meet your band mates? How did you ask them to join your band?

Various ways. There have been about 260 people that have backed me up at this point.

MN360° – What is the strangest thing you’ve experienced on tour?

touring

MN360° – What do you do to occupy yourself between shows while on tour?

Planning the next shows.

MN360° – How about strangest place you’ve crashed while on tour, or bike tour?

Slept in the parachute a few times in some odds spots.

MN360° – What will music sound like in 100 years?

It’ll continue to expand in all directions like a web spreading outward and with more intersections of various strains of genres.

MN360° – If you had to describe your music as a color, what color would it be?

teal

MN360° – If you could have a billboard with anything on it, what would it say?

Gender is over, if you want it!

http://www.genderisover.com/

Review from www.pitchfork.com .

No one ever wants to admit that summer’s totally over, but it’s even tougher this year considering how fun it all was– seems like every other day, an evocatively named band would come about and contribute to this glo-fi/dreambeat/chillwave thing that was perfect for those unbearably humid August nights rife with possibility, imagining an alternate universe where the narcotic of choice in danceclubs were Galaxie 500 and Saint Etienne records.

More than a few of these singles came from Philadelphia’s Dayve Hawk in the guise of either Memory Cassette, Weird Tapes, or Memory Tapes. To this point, he’d served as something of a microcosm for this sound, which has created intriguingly hazy, wistful but beat-informed one-offs and EPs, but nothing weighty enough to get it past “something we did that one summer,” as if it were a road trip or ill-fated romance recalled years later. That was before Seek Magic, a record of achingly gorgeous dance-pop that captures both the joy of nostalgia and the melancholic sense that we’re grasping for good times increasingly out of reach.

Initially, Seek Magic‘s power derives from an intensely personalized ability to unlock hidden chambers in our memory banks. The half-submerged guitars that introduce “Swimming Field” suggest this is as a soundtrack for a restless evening, but between its F-G chord progression and aqueous thumb-piano and panflute synths, I’m reminded of scorching July days vibing out to Wilco’s A Ghost Is Born. Instrumental breaks “Pink Stones” and “Run Out” recall the unconventional beauty of Apehx Twin’s Richard D. James Album. “Green Knight” smacks of Police’s “Wrapped Around Your Finger” in its verse and any number of mid-80s light funk with its guitar licks, the sneaker squeak in the instrumental break is one of the most evocative found sounds I’ve heard in a while.

Seek Magic is something of an inhabitable universe that proves there’s far more to Hawk’s sound than a way with reverb and passing familiarity with dance loops. The rubber-smacks-road beat of “Bicycle” would be content to mirror its titular vehicle, but nearly every minute packs some sort of detailed compositional surprise: the widescreen breakthrough where Hawk’s androgynous vocals shake lo-fi two minutes in, the bass breakdown that soon rights itself into the second half’s backbone, and the choral coda that lays a euphoric vocal sigh over wave-running New Order guitars. By comparison, “Plain Material” is streamlined, but not by much– the way Hawk’s voice hits the fuzzed-out guitar chords, you might think this was an unearthed Flaming Lips track, and at first, it sounds like the first time on Seek Magic that he’ll adhere to a standard verse-chorus structure. It does, but only after a drum beat cribbed straight from Organized Noize turns in a bridge of teen screams imported from In Ghost Colours‘ nastier breakdowns.

And yet in Seek Magic‘s centerpieces, you sense a nocturnal unease usually attributed to more spare albums. “Stop Talking” could’ve been content to ride out its gummy bass riff to infinity, but it morphs through so many phases in its seven minutes that the half-time post-rock finale doesn’t feel tacked-on. On the following song, “Graphics”, Hawk offers an unnervingly lonely sentiment– “I don’t even recognize the sound of your voice, the feel of your touch, you could be alone even though I’m here by your side.” Lyrics are mere suggestions through most of Seek Magic, but Hawk lays out an “I can’t go on, I’ll go on” vibe throughout. One second, he sighs “this is the last time” and immediately thereafter, “one more time, baby, one more time.” It’s a sentiment that’s underpinned great works of art from Daft Punk (“One More Time” natch), F. Scott Fitzgerald (This Side of Paradise), Kanye West (“Why can’t life always be this easy?”), and um, Old Milwaukee– the times where you think “it doesn’t get any better than this,” and it’s simultaneously the happiest and saddest thing you can say.

Review from www.pitchfork.com .

This version of Small Black’s debut EP is a remastered update of the original that popped up online last year, now outfitted with two additional tracks. Originally a bedroom duo consisting of Ryan Heyner and Josh Kolenik, Small Black added two new members (including Pitchfork.tv contributors Juan Pieczanski and Jeff Curtin) to bring the insular, demo-like tracks included here to a live setting. And if Small Black are shaping up to be a proper band (their upcoming full-length will feature the expanded line-up), this EP serves as an intriguing portrait of the group in its pollywog stage, making music that is simply stated and occasionally arresting.

Much of the EP sounds almost half-formed, as heavy reverb and over-processed synthesizers often overwhelm the subtle melodies and bright patches that anchor the dazed, mercurial songs. Most often, you have to work a little harder for the small rewards; beneath the tangled synth chatter and seasick sway of “Weird Machines” is a joviality that could be blown up to fill a large space (confirmed by a live version that appeared on a recent split EP with the like-minded Washed Out). Such revelry can spill out of a track at any given moment, and major highlight “Despicable Dogs” is by far the best demonstration of it here. But Heyner and Kolenik seem more interested in establishing a mood than pursuing full-on pop pleasures; they often sabotage their more accessible moments with noisy sample cycles and calamitous, disorienting percussion.

But Small Black should be approached as a document of a band in its embryonic form, a wash of ideas that work just often enough to be satisfying. The only real mistake is the addition of the two additional tunes– the too-straightforward “Kings of Animals” and the ambling, harmonica-centered “Baby Bird Pt. 2”. Both are true to the sound of the original EP, but they fail to conjure the same buzzing, sentimental vibe. Certainly the larger, fully formed version of Small Black is the one to look out for, but Small Black— shaky, yet often gratifying– is more than just a stop-gap.

 

Review from www.pitchfork.com .

Future Islands frontman Samuel T. Herring has an energy, a physical aura, that moves along a single line. On one end is a hangdog character with tucked-in shirt and pleated khakis and on the other is an ursine man-monster wresting primordial sounds from his heart. Until recently, we could find Herring only in the small clubs where Future Islands relentlessly toured. With Herring as ringleader, these shows got pretty rowdy for a three-piece synth pop band. Everyone would push around to his metal vocals of “Tin Man” and sway along to “Inch of Dust” — their former marquee song from 2010’s In Evening Air — all while Herring waved his arms like a man conducting a symphony of giants.

When Future Islands recently performed their new marquee song on “Letterman”, the stunning “Seasons (Waiting On You)”, the secret was out: Here’s this guy, this dude with a tucked-in shirt, khakis, and a receding hairline bobbing and weaving, grinding gears in his throat, giving a “fuck yeah” gesture before a perfect pop modulation takes him to the chorus. He had that kind of uninhibited spirit the internet loves to protect and preserve. If he had a more garrulous social media brand, no doubt he could take this moment and amass an army of fans, the hashtag Herring Task Force, retweeting Vines of people wearing tucked-in shirts and khakis doing “The Herring”.

The landmark performance was far and away the most viewed musical segment on “Late Show With David Letterman” and it was certainly the most surprising moment of Future Islands’ career. And now, following the storied live shows, the memes, and their move from Thrill Jockey to 4AD comes their fourth and possibly best album, Singles. These songs finally invite us to participate in Herring’s world, one shaped by geological heartbreak events and their epochal reflection periods, told with nothing more than the simple truth. It’s pop music distilled, something Future Islands have been working at since their earliest lo-fi electro-punk recordings.

Singles is a great balance of pop and melodrama. It’s built around the sturdy new wave beat, almost always four on the floor, giving Herring a comfortable frame in which to sing. Its themes are also symmetrical, as Herring plays with antithesis like an eager English student: day and night, sun and moon, summer and winter, man and woman. His words are the sort of thing that would tumble out of your mouth if you were told to write a love poem right now in eight seconds. “She looks like the moon/ So close and yet so far” or “My sun every morning/ My star of the evening” are just two couplets that look goopy on the page but sound so impulsively romantic when he sings them. Which is to say that the setting for these songs is nothing fancy, but if they were any busier than cool nights in the tall grass with the moon hanging just so, it would ruin the music’s delicate relationship with Herring.

Herring’s presence draws from Wham City’s theatrical charm, but Future Islands also work on a much grander scale. From their debut up to 2011’s On The Water, bassist William Cashion was the group’s Peter Hook, as he offered distinctive lines with an actual personality behind it. But on Singles, Cashion and the band nod toward the stadium-ready anthems of early U2. The moody synth drones have been replaced with ergonomic melody and the band has tightened up accordingly. On songs like “Spirit” and the parting words of “A Dream Of You And Me”, when Herring’s passionate delivery carries him into those heavenly choruses, you can all but see the flood lights flash in the arena when he gets there. He sings with his eyes open, still searching, still trying to reconcile love, and still a little pissed off.

The album isn’t as taut as it could be in the back half—“Like the Moon”, for example, is a predictable and rather long four-and-a-half minutes. But Future Islands compensate for the occasional dull patch. Just after “Like the Moon” comes the album’s highpoint, the post-mortem ballad “Fall From Grace”. It could be a Beach House song with its below-freezing tempo and a spotlight on Cashion’s guitars, but then Herring gets to thinking about one of those heartbreak events and it all comes rushing back above this overdriven baritone guitar. He unknots all the emotion that has only bubbled up until now and asks one last question about their love and basically Hulks out: “was it ALL INSIDE OF ME?” The moment is arresting, and in the context of the sometimes mushy poetry of the album, these four words are blinding and absolutely unforgettable.

If this all seems a bit much, well, it is. That’s the point of Future Islands, to invite this impulsive and unfettered behavior into the lives of listeners, both at home and at their shows. Singles is risky, but the strength of the songwriting carries it over. It reminds me of that video from Sasquatch 2009 of the shirtless guy dancing to Santigold, which has since gone mega viral. Herring acts on impulse—at no point does he sound calculated or clever—offering an open invitation to the uninhibited, to the goofy, and the sentimental.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GK4lD3Uf8_o