Rich Aucoin was cycling across the country on a tour for mental health charities when he began to think about songwriting and activism. Songs with long legacies of protesting the status-quo, namely David Bowie’s “Young Americans” (which in itself references The Beatles “A Day in the Life”), began to inspire Aucoin to pen an anthem about living during tumultuous times on the precipice of change. While in Arcosanti, Arizona during his cross-country tour, Aucoin wrote “How it Breaks,” his own attempt at addressing both the storied history and hopeful future of social justice movements in this country. The song is accompanied by a music video edited by Aucoin himself, which melds archival and current news footage to illustrate his point.
“I wanted to create a link between the protesting of the present and the past,” Aucoin wrote in a statement. “The idea was to demonstrate that the protests happening now will be what future generations look back on the same way we revere the importance of protests of the past. The protests of today are making history and will be remembered; already the Women’s March has aged with the understanding that it is amongst the greatest protests. I hoped that, watching the video, someone may feel inspired to join in the next time a call for action is made.”
“How it Breaks” references music that has been at the forefront of challenging ideas, such as that of Aretha Franklin, Rage Against the Machine, Funkadelic, Rolling Stones and even the production of pop icon Rihanna.
“I thought this would be a great track to re-purpose the beat from Umbrella as I weaved other ideas of the familiar,” Aucoin said. “I was thinking about the connection between the past and present on this song. I thought the referential spirit would be an interesting thing to play off while attempting to write a protest song in the lineage of protest songs.”
Check out Aucoin’s self-edited music video for “How it Breaks” below, and check out his 2012 performance of “At War With The Cynics (An Opening) from the Paste archives.