Rich Aucoin does nothing by the book

Rich Aucoin performs to a packed crowd (Meghan O’Neil/AQ)
Rich Aucoin performs to a packed crowd (Meghan O’Neil/AQ)

Rich Aucoin sat in his dressing room staring down at a physics text book called “Six Ideas of Physics.”

“The crazy thing about ‘Angry Birds’ is there wasn’t anything too special about it. Like, it’s pretty fun but it just became the best of pretty shitty phone games,” said Aucoin. “What type of physics is that called again? F x M…?”

Aucoin just performed at the UNB Students’ Union’s show Thursday night with Hamilton’s Arkells headlining and UNB’s own Lobstarr opening the night.

Aucoin’s dressing room was more of a conference room, with unused text books stored in the corner. The book on his lap was taped shut before he pried it open, sweat dripping from his forehead.

“I feel like these aren’t books for reading. I think these are books for stacking.”

Aucoin has opened up for acts such as M83, Flaming Lips and a recent announcement welcomed him as the opener for Juno Award winning k-os this spring for a 12 show Canadian tour.

He released his first full-length album in 2011, We’re All Dying to Live, featuring over 500 Canadian artists from Halifax’s Jenn Grant and Montreal’s Rae Spoon to even his fans and friends. The album was recorded across the country.

“Are you into percentage chocolate?” Aucoin asks.

Aucoin’s drummer, Joel Waddell, grabbed the 70 per cent bar off a table in the middle of what appeared to be a conference room, leaving the 90 per cent for Aucoin.

“He just sits and eats spoonfuls of powdered cocoa,” said Waddell while Aucoin called it an “acquired taste.”

Moments earlier, Aucoin was shooting confetti and bubbles out of a spray gun before climbing into the crowd. Holding just a light bulb, he lit his way through the crowd to clear a dance circle in the middle.

Despite the popularity of the stand-still-and-nod dance move, Aucoin put movement back into people’s legs.

After tossing a parachute into the crowd and offering minor instructions, the beat pulsed again and the parachute was spread, acting as a roof to the twentysomethings dancing underneath.

Aucoin released his first EP in 2007, Personal Publication, which was recorded as an alternative soundtrack to How The Grinch Stole Christmas when played during the film.

Aucoin sets many of his beats to popular YouTube videos like “Jessica’s Daily Affirmation,” showing a child standing in front of a bathroom mirror declaring things she likes about her life, as well as a cat molding its body into a shoebox.

Aucoin also takes time to personalize each show. He finds names of people who work for the show and through social media to flash on a projector behind him.

“What’s awesome is when I’m opening up for someone and someone Tweets at the bigger band that I’m opening for and they’re like ‘I’m in the front row for the Arkells. I’m so excited!’ said Aucoin.

“So they’re standing there being like ‘who’s this opener?’ then they’re like ‘woah what is that!’”

Aucoin is in the writing stage of his next album but is already planning ahead.

“For this record, the idea is to get all those crowd sing-along songs out of my system right now. Like, not to say that I’m never going to write something like this again, but I’ve already thought of what I want to do for the next two records.”