Rich Aucoin is thrilled to announce his new album United States, to be released September 18th via Haven Sounds. As a preview he is has released the single “Reset” along with the music video that is featured on American Songwriter.
Aucoin wrote the album, observing the America from the ground level, while cycling across it for Mental Health America (as well as the Canadian Mental Health Association). While taking this Robert Frank approach, Aucoin composed a song for each of the 12 states he pedalled through. The record is as much about the current socio-political climate of America as it is about states of consciousness; as much fuelled by the burgeoning American protest movement or Hedges’ social commentary as it is fuelled by McKenna/Pollan world of psychedelics and meditation apps.
Rich says, “I wanted to really see the states alone as an observer with lots of time to process the experience. I’ve loved touring there and was interested in how such a progressive country could elect their current president. After cycling through town after town with decaying downtowns where photos were displayed in the local cafes showing the town in full bloom after the second world war, I could see how his propaganda of ‘Make America Great Again’ really conned people. I spent a lot of time on social media and alone over those months and could see how the states had re-entered a period that felt like the late-60s again with both a resurgence in student protest movements and a renewed interest in psychedelics. I was also meditating a lot and thinking about these things while riding.”
“Reset”, the second single after “How It Breaks” from United States, is another protest song from Aucoin with this one being an anti-gun anthem.
“I started the ride across America just after the events of the Parkland shootings so it was very much in the news and I wanted to write something immediately that spoke to their frustration with the gun laws in their country.” Aucoin had previously recorded audiences from several summer music festivals including Vieilles Charrues, Evolve, Ottawa Bluesfest and Canada Day in Trafalgar Square in North America and Europe in the summer of 2012 and went back to those recordings to get the large sound of a crowd of approximately 20,000 people for the wordless choruses. The song also features the all-star vocal group of Kyla Carter, Simone Denny, Maylee Todd. “I wanted to make something like a Jack White rock anthem but without using any guitar so the only instruments on the track other than bass and drums are just Rhodes and Wurlitzer keyboards played with lots of distortion which we tracked down at Diego Medina’s epic and now closed Old Confidence Lodge Studio (Matt Mays, Jennah Barry, Jon Mckiel).
For the video for “Reset”, “Because of the restraints of COVID19, Aucoin returned to the chopping of over a 100 news reports for the video.” The video features reports on all the mass-shootings that have occurred since Aucoin started his cycle tour which tally to 36. Like “How It Breaks”, it’s a call to action and demonstrates the efforts being made by the thousands of students across America who will one day change gun legislation in their country if those in power do not help them at this moment.
“In going through the hundreds of videos, it reminded me of how often these shooting happen in America and that there’s such a large number that many shootings now need to have a year next to the city’s name to differentiate between them and the mass shootings which have occurred in the same city the year or two before. The shootings have occurred in all types of places and events from a Waffle House and Walmart to a Youtube headquarters and EA Sports Competition. I wanted to remove guns, victims and shooters from the video and have the focus be on protest in response to events. Guns sales go up during times of fear like after a mass shooting or now during the pandemic and so this is an important time to refocus the attention to dealing with the epidemic of America’s gun violence as they continue to rise. Suicide also accounts for the highest number of deaths by guns and I wanted to shed light on that problem as well as the mass shootings occurring frequently. One thing I wish there was more footage of, to include in the video but was impossible to find, was discussion around toxic masculinity and violence against women as many of the shootings include domestic violence at their onset. There is lots of messiness in the discussion of gun violence and mental health as well as both sides seem to be using different dictionaries for their terminology. The NRA is a lobby group masquerading as a civil rights organization but, just as the Tobacco Institute (TIRC) was dissolved in 1998, hopefully the NRA will be deemed unconstitutional as well. Finally, I wanted to block out the guns of this video in the way I blocked out the president in the previous video but wanted to find an object which would demonstrate the desensitized way we see weapons, I picked the dildo because it seems out of place for someone to be showing it off in public and yet the dildo is an object of pleasure not a weapon of death. We should have a bigger reaction to seeing weapons of death being allowed to be touted around in the name of freedom. Working on this was especially difficult in the weeks post the deadliest mass shooting in Canadian history while myself and the rest of the community all reflected on what was happening all around us.”