Interview with Rich Aucoin (PANAMANIA / Pan Am Games series)

Twitter: @PeteHatesMusic

The Pan / Parapan Am Games in Toronto (and surrounding cities) kick off this Friday, with a Cirque du Soleil Opening Ceremonies performance at the Skydome Pan Am Dome. For music fans, there is an incredible number of great bands rolling into town for – wait for it – FREE SHOWS! The event is called PANAMANIA, and takes place at Nathan Phillips Square, the Distillery District, and “CIBC Pan Am Park” (i.e.: The Exhibition grounds).

The list of PANAMANIA acts is as long as it is impressive. It includes Polaris Prize winners and nominees, as well as Prism Prize winners and nominees (which I love, partially because I am a Prism Prize juror), and other acts who regularly are in the ‘big font’ on festival posters. These acts include The Flaming Lips, Stars, Explosions in the Sky, Basia Bulat, Death from Above 1979, The Roots, Rich Aucoin, and so many more.

In celebration of the Pan / Parapan Am Games, we thought we’d reach out to some athletes and bands to get their thoughts on music, sports, and the Pan Am Games.

First up is Prism Prize winner Rich Aucoin. He plays July 14 at PANAMANIA Live @ Nathan Phillips Square.

PeteHatesMusic (PHM): In an alternate universe, you’re a Pan Am athlete. What sport are you competing in?

Rich Aucoin: Growing up, I played a lot of football (soccer), baseball, volleyball, tennis and swam, fenced and played rugby in college. So perhaps in that alternate universe I’d be competing in one of those sports. Athletics has always been a big part of my life. Today though my main activity is surfing.

PHM: We’ve been asking athletes who they listen to before they compete. Who do you listen to as motivation to go on-stage?

Rich Aucoin: I don’t listen to any music before going on stage but I usually begin each show with some uplifting words samples from anyone from the “thumbs up for Rock & Roll” kid to English philosopher Alan Watts describing the importance of doing what you want to with the short time you have on this planet and not to be enslaved to routine, comfort or what others may expect from you.

Rich Aucoin (photo credit - Vanessa Heins)

Rich Aucoin (photo credit – Vanessa Heins)

PHM: Are you able to check out any Pan Am or Parapan Am events when you’re not performing?

Rich Aucoin: I hope so, I haven’t looked into the schedule yet but depending on how far away some events are and our accessibility to seeing them, I hope to see something Tuesday afternoon before we perform.

PHM: Which of your songs would be best suited for some pre-event blasting throughout the arena to get the crowd excited?

Rich Aucoin: It is a song about creating and doing so that might be the best bet. Otherwise, people tell me Push is a good motivator for running and embracing the absurdity of our existence and enjoying the struggle of physical effort; like Sisyphus, we always have the walk down the hill to enjoy life with.

PHM: The FIFA World Cup and Olympics have had official songs with cheesy titles like We Are One (Ole Ola), Waka Waka, Survival, One World One Flame, and The Power of the Dream. If your band could write the official song for the Pan/Parapan Am Games, what would its hypothetical song title be called?

Rich Aucoin – Want to Believe

Rich Aucoin: Pan Hard. The sequel of course would be Pan Harder and the song would keep switching back and forth between your left and right speakers/headphones.

PHM: Pachi the porcupine is the official mascot of the Pan / Parapan Am Games. What animal or creature would be your mascot and why?

Rich Aucoin: Tortoise because they would win the race at some point and enjoy it at the right pace in the meantime.


Pan Hard – words to live by, folks. Be sure to check out Rich Aucoin on Tuesday, July 14.

Follow us on Twitter @PeteHatesMusic for more music and Pan Am goodness.

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