Published Sep 22, 2011It's been some time since we heard about an album so dizzily ambitious as Rich Aucoin's upcoming We're All Dying to Live, which features a staggering 500-plus guest musicians. Unsurprisingly, given the enormity of the project, the three-year recording process was a stressful time for Aucoin.
"It's easily the most overwhelming thing I've ever done," he tells Exclaim! from his home in Halifax. "There would be points where I'd be paralyzed with the sheer amount of emailing that I had to do."
In order to fulfill his vision, Aucoin says he "was running my apartment like a doctor's office, where someone would be in on the hour, every hour, for a whole working week."
He recorded in an estimated seven or eight studios, including a memorable session at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London, UK.
"It's really funny, because I play a shit load of Beatles Rock Band on Xbox," notes Aucoin. "Every time I play one of the Abbey songs, it shows them in the studio, and it still looks like that today."
Aucoin adds that he and a few collaborators also took the opportunity to get their photo taken while walking on the iconic crosswalk.
Others sessions took place in Halifax, Toronto and Montreal, and featured children's choirs, guest vocalists and countless guest instrumentalists. Many of those guests on the album are non-musicians, but Aucion also roped in the likes of Dan Mangan, Joel Plaskett, Jenn Grant, 100 Children Choir, Tim Baker and Paul Aucoin to contribute to We're All Dying to Live.
So why did Aucoin opt to recruit so many contributors? He says that it's simply because he had never previously made a collaborative record.
"I want to always do something from each record completely different on the following one," he reveals. "So the something I chose in this case is because I did the first one by myself."
Almost all of the 500-plus guests appear on the album's climactic finale, which consists of the title track followed by "500 People Talking." These songs were perhaps the most challenging of all to record, given the limitations of current technology.
"'We're All Dying to Live' was so big that we had to do it in three different HD systems," Aucoin recalls. "Because I recorded small groups individually, the track count was over 300. No system could run 300 tracks, so we would do these bounce-downs until we had groups of 50 people singing at once, and then we mixed that together."
In support of We're All Dying to Live, Aucoin has rolled out a Canadian fall tour (see his schedule below), but it will, of course, be impossible for him to bring even a fraction of the performers with him. He will compensate for their absence with samplers and by teaching the audience the gang vocal parts.
Those wishing to experience the full force of Aucoin's collaborative sound are advised to show up at Halifax's St. Matthew's United Church on October 19 (during Halifax Pop Explosion), when the songwriter will be joined by around 100 guests -- another "logistical nightmare" in organization, the ringleader admits.
With the new album finally finished, Aucoin is already thinking about the follow-up. He says that We're All Dying to Live is the second part of a planned trilogy; 2007's Personal Publication was about "love," the new LP is about "life," and a future album will be about "loss."
"I don't want to make it for a bunch of years," he says of this planned release. "I think I'm not going to play on it at all, I'm just going to write it, and then just get only other people to play it."
While Aucoin mulls over his plans to eventually complete the trilogy, we can get set for We're All Dying to Live to drop on November 1 via Sonic Records. At the bottom of the page, you can also stream and/or download the new album track "It."
9/21 Montreal, QC - Mission Santa Cruz (Pop Montreal)
9/22 Montreal, QC - La Sala Rossa (Pop Montreal)
10/15 Reykjavik, Iceland - Hresso (Iceland Airwaves - Canadian Blast)
10/15 Reykjavik, Iceland - Bakkus (Iceland Airwaves - Gogoyoko Party)
10/16 Reykjavik, Iceland - Nasa (Iceland Airwaves - Official Showcase)
10/19 Halifax, NS - St. Matthew's Church (Halifax Pop Explosion)
10/28 Rouyn-Noranda, QC - Film Festival International
10/29 Charlottetown PEI - Hunters Ale House (Halloween costume party show)
11/4 Yarmouth, NS - Dooly's (Nova Scotia Music Week)
11/7 Regina, SK - The Distrikt ^
11/8 Edmonton, AB - The Starlite Room ^
11/9 Calgary, AB - McEwan Hall ^
11/11 Vancouver, BC - Commodore Ballroom ^
11/12 Victoria, BC - Sugar ^
11/23 Ottawa, ON - Bronson Centre *
11/24 Montreal, QC - Corona Theatre *
11/25 Toronto, ON - Sound Academy *
^ with Arkells
* with Lights
Rich Aucoin -- It (edit) by Exclaim!