Rich Aucoin Gets in Sync with 'Ephemeral'

Rich Aucoin Gets in Sync with 'Ephemeral'
Just as Rich Aucoin was releasing 2011's long-gestating We're All Dying to Live, the Halifax musician hinted that a new record was already in the works.

"Look how well I accomplished that," jokes Aucoin to Exclaim! as he readies Ephemeral, its follow-up, three years later. While he admits that he's "the worst at estimating times," We're All Dying to Live's success sucked Aucoin into a never-ending string of tour dates. "I haven't had three consecutive weekends off in four years."

The seeds for Ephemeral, out September 9 on Bonsound, date back to 2009, when Aucoin was given a brief recording session in London's famed Abbey Road Studios in exchange for singing backup vocals on a friend's project. "I had the first ideas for chord progressions for this record. So I just played the chord progressions at a tempo that I thought would be appropriate."

We're All Dying to Live was written to sync with a short film Aucoin created using cut-up snippets of public domain films. But fitting in the 500 contributors who helped make the album created an unwieldy beast that almost got away from the musician. So for his new album, he wanted to return to writing to a single source, as he did on his 2007 EP, Personal Publication designed to sync with Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas. "When you pick one thing, you have to have all these restrictions [to make things fit]."

He finally hit on a 1979 claymation version of The Little Prince, based on Antoine de Saint-Exupery's famed novella, Aucoin's favourite book. "Visually it's so good, but the voice acting in it is so bad," making it ripe for a sonic reinterpretation.

He says that How the Grinch Stole Christmas is "so iconic" that people are familiar with the dialogue to the point of distraction. "You can still hear the dialogue in your head. This one I feel most people haven't seen."

Aucoin is arguably better known for his over-the-top, participatory live shows than he is his records. The weeks leading up to the release of Ephemeral offer him a rare respite in his Halifax hometown, but he says the time off won't be spent relaxing. Aucoin recently shared a stage at the Pemberton Music Festival in British Columbia with similarly minded live performers like the Flaming Lips. "[Their show] was completely different from what I'd seen them do two years prior," he says.

Aucoin wants to throw out his set and create "a completely new show by the end of August. I had been planning [to do so] anyway but it was nice to get the confirmation."

He's also already thinking about Ephemeral's follow-up. "I want to make my next record on the supernatural and write all about mystical phenomena," he says, even though he's never experienced such things himself. "I've been trying for a while to go to haunted houses to elicit these experiences."

But given his propensity to draw out the creative process, Aucoin thinks he might try and shake things up. "I get so bogged down in these rules and heavy concepts, I'll just take a year off from making records and I'll probably make way more music. My next record will just be the dates of when I started and ended work on it."

As previously reported, Aucoin has several Canadian tour dates coming up, and you can see those below.

Tour dates:

08/28 Rouyn-Noranda, QC - FMEAT
09/05 Quebec City, QC - Envol et Macadam
09/06 Montreal, QC - OUMF Festival
09/11-14 Victoria, BC - Rifflandia
09/16 Vancouver, BC - Fortune Sound Club
09/17 Edmonton, AB - The Starlite
09/18 Calgary, AB - Commonwealth Stage
10/03 Kingston, ON – TBA

Read our September 2014 cover story on Aucoin here.