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DrFameus Invades AURA

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In 2005, the sound of one of the most iconic jam bands of today was changed forever. When Allen Aucoin replaced original drummer Sammy Altman, the Disco Biscuits transitioned into a more progressive hybrid between jam and electronica, anchored by Aucoin’s unmatched pace and precision. The sensational drummer has since earned nicknames like ‘The Machine,’ ‘The Gingerbot,’ ‘The Terminator’ and ‘The Alien.’ But, if you ask him, he’s more partial to his Schwarzenegger doppelganger – and the “hilarious” superimposed image of the ginger-haired Georgia boy robot floating around the web.

Aucoin’s influence on the band stems from his own roster of drum-and-bass, funk and jazz drummers that have sculpted his artistry along the way. Even before their training days at Berklee College of Music, he had a sweet spot for classmate Deantoni Parks. The Fellow Georgian, known for his work in KUDU, and now The Mars Volta, has been a force to be reckoned with, to Aucoin, since high school. “I’d see him at all the state competitions. He was so good even then,” Aucoin says. “Then, we went to Berklee together, and no one could teach him anything. I learned as much from him as I did from the phenomenal instructors.” Parks was the first drummer Aucoin had ever witnessed performing a live drum-and-bass set, which had a strong impact on his own development as a musician. 

In addition to Parks, Aucoin credits Pendulum’s KJ Sawka for introducing him to the drummer’s one-man-band concept, and jazz fusion-funk drummer Dennis Chambers (Parliament Funkadelic) as earlier idols. “He was just ridiculously fast. His groove was huge and thick,” Aucoin says of Chambers. “I got to meet Dennis in high school, which gave me years of inspiration.” Late jazz pioneers Tony Williams and Elvin Jones also make the list for their raw chops and distinct energies.

Like any unique artist, Aucoin’s style is defined by more than just his muses. In 2001, he bought his first two sets of Edrums, a Roland SPD-20 and a Roland MC-808. “I was just like a kid in a candy store,” he says of his first experiments on the then-new additions to his ensemble. More than a decade later, Aucoin has settled into a happy marriage with his electronic noisemakers, because he believes they are essential to his makeup. “I think that as a drummer in today’s music, you have to use Edrums of an actual sort – pads, triggers, loops or a backend track to fatten up the sound,” he says. “I don’t know how else you can play drums in an electro setting in 2012. You turn on the radio, you hear it. Every DJ uses the patterns. It’s something that has just become part of the genre, part of the drummer’s musical vocabulary.”

Currently, Aucoin is able to explore more attractive Edrum trends on his own, since his playing days with the Disco Biscuits are currently on hold. The band is taking a seven-month hiatus, following January’s second installment of Mayan Holidaze in Puerto Morelos, Mexico.  “Well, first of all, I think we kind of killed it at Mayan,” Aucoin says. “We played really, really well for those to be the last shows before returning at Camp Bisco in July. I’m glad to go out on such a high note.” As for the break, he says it was a bit of a surprise. “I wasn’t expecting it for 2012, it was kind of something that was just dropped on me,” he says.

In his off time, Aucoin will continue touring – this time as a solo act, DrFameus. The moniker, which was coined by an old friend for Aucoin’s tendency to be “famously late” all the time, gives him a chance to branch out on the road with new material, play with friends, reunite with old bands and network within the industry.

As DrFameus, Aucoin says he appreciates the freedom and being in the spotlight by himself. “There are more liberties. If I want to over-drum one part, no one is going to complain. Plus, the fans expect me to play more drums, so I don’t have to worry about stepping on anybody’s toes.” He compares his solo experience to a golf game, taking full responsibility when he’s on his own, which can become a bit stressful when on tour alone. “It’s all on you. You can’t depend on anyone else. If you get stuck, you’ve got to pull yourself out of the hole.”

On his spring tour, Aucoin is thrilled to bring DrFameus to this year’s AURA Music & Arts Festival. Though he doesn’t hit the stage until Saturday morning at 3 a.m., he says he’s looking forward to it. “I hope the fans are good and ready to party and in dance mode. Expect an accompaniment by DJ Drizno on the decks, in addition to a guest guitarist. “I think we’ll be playing until the sun comes up, and I’m definitely excited for it.” Don’t expect Aucoin to catch a morning flight out, either. He plans to stick around for some easy listening, and even a few sit-ins throughout Saturday. “I am definitely hanging around, checking out AURA, and excited to be a part of it. I’d love to sit in with whoever will have me,” he says. “That’s one of the reasons I’m sticking around for the fest – not just to listen, but to sit in.”

AURA is the only chance for many fans of the Disco Biscuits to get a taste of the familial sound until July, when Aucoin rejoins the Disco Biscuits for Camp Bisco XI. He says there’s nothing like the feeling of playing Camp Bisco each year for the fans, though this will be the longest the band has been apart in many years. “Playing with the guys will be a little strange in the nervous sense. We’re not coming off a 60-show tour and finishing each others’ sentences, but we know each others’ strengths and weaknesses.” Even with the nervous energy in the air, the planned reunion will be that much sweeter. And for that date, DrFameus wouldn’t dare to be famously late

Photos by Melodysiac.com © 2012