Music Interview: A veritable horde of Hylozoists

Paul Aucoin has been a busy man the last few years. Besides contributing to or producing such bands as The Old Soul, the Fembots, Cuff the Duke and the Golden Dogs, he somehow found the time to form the Hylozoists. The band’s first album, 2002’s entirely instrumental La Nouvelle Gauche, was mostly performed by Aucoin, but when it was time to form a band to tour in support of the album, Aucoin assembled himself an army of musicians from other bands.

Though some members weren’t available for their present tour, which stops in Calgary April 7, including the Weakerthan’s Jason Tait and Broken Social Scene’s Julie Penner, the list following Aucoin on his first West Coast trip with the Hylozoists is dizzying. Wayne Petti on piano, Paul Lowman on bass, Patrick Conan on vibraphone and Dale Murray on pedal steel and guitar from Cuff the Duke, Dave MacKinnon and Brian Poirier from the Fembots, Taylor Knox on drums from the Golden Dogs and Aucoin’s brother, Richard Aucoin also on vibraphone. Because of the size of the band and the nature of its assembly, the Hylozoists have drawn comparisons to indie supergroup Broken Social Scene, a comparison Aucoin doesn’t mind.

“I think people stop the comparison just on the involvement of many musicians,” says Aucoin, who plays vibraphones and drums in the Hylozoists. “They’re all our friends too. Julie Penner, our violin player, is off playing with them now. I played with them before. I don’t mind the comparisons; they’re all our friends.”

Though the cross over in members causes some scheduling conflicts, such as the current one with Penner, the Hylozoists’ violin player, Aucoin isn’t bothered. In fact, he enjoys the experience of meeting new musicians.

“Julie Penner has only recently started to miss some shows because of her involvement with Broken Social Scene,” he says. “Jason Tait never missed any shows until this tour. Business people say to me, ‘oh this is going to be confusing.’ You know what? Don’t worry about it. Unless you think the band is just worse because of it musically, then tell me something. But otherwise, these are all great people [and] we all like doing it. I like it that way. I really like meeting new musicians. Sometimes it’s a bit of a bummer organizing this stuff, but ultimately I get to meet all these great people because of it. Having a set band is nice, [but] so is meeting new people.”

Aucoin has been lucky to meet not only great musicians through his bands, but also celebrities of other varieties. A fan of hockey, Aucoin recently got the opportunity to play a show at Phoenix Coyotes member Boyd Devereaux’s cottage before the start of the NHL regular season. The show also introduced Aucoin to some comparisons of the varying levels of success dividing musicians and hockey players.

“[The show at his cottage with Cuff the Duke] was a great time,” voices Aucoin. “At first, I was a little concerned whether everybody would love it or not, they seemed like they would be into other types of music, but they loved it. It was for all the hockey players he played with through the years, [and hockey players] from Stratford, Ontario, where he’s from. It was interesting to see. You know some of your friends have gold records; you know some of your friends who can’t get their records done. When you meet a lot of the hockey players, the same thing sort of happens. You see all the journeymen in the WHL and IHL, they make $22,000 a year and they’re still playing even if they might not make the NHL. [There are] those of us that do it for the love of doing it first, and hope the business end works out. Some of us it works out really well, [and then] some of us have a great time, but you move onto other things.”

So far, Aucoin has yet to be forced to move on from music, as he is involved in a multitude of projects. Besides producing and participating in bands, Aucoin has had the opportunity to score films like the composers he draws inspiration from, such as Danny Elfman, Bernard Herrman, and Ennio Morricone. Aucoin hopes his latest creation, the Hylozoist’s La Fin Du Monde, slated for an early June release, will find some success. The album was already recorded before Aucoin assembled the current version of the band and wanted to re-record it with everyone participating, causing a delay in its release date.

“We really wanted everyone on the record,” admits Aucoin. “[La Nouvelle Gauche] was mostly me by myself and it was just so nice to have that option this time. Re-recording was a lot of fun. Some of the songs got way better from playing them so much as opposed to the nice but tentative aspect of recording songs when you don’t know them. Which most bands do anyway, because they write them, then record them [immediately after.] A year later they’re playing them great.”

One member currently touring with the band who wasn’t featured on La Fin Du Monde is Aucoin’s brother Richard Aucoin. The Hylozoist concert in Calgary will almost be a family reunion, because, in addition to his brother in the band, Aucoin has a sister who teaches at the University of Calgary and expects his parents to be in the audience for the first time.

“Actually, at the Calgary show my mother and father will finally see the band,” says Aucoin. “They’re the biggest Hylozoists fans in the world and they’ve never seen the band live. They’re going to see both of their sons head to head on vibraphones and I think they’re going to like it.”

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