Five years ago, Spring resident and Texas A&M sophomore Matthew Aucoin brought a dream, a whole lot of guts, and a homemade sign to his hero Bruce Springsteen’s concert and asked: “Can a college kid play ‘No Surrender’ with you?”
Why not? This sort of thing happens all the time. But, when The Boss finished performing ‘Rosalita,’ sure enough, he noticed the sign, whispered something to his E Street Band mates, and motioned Aucoin onstage. A stagehand strapped a guitar on Aucoin and Springsteen kicked 1-2-3-4! into “No Surrender.”
Aucoin didn’t just strum a guitar with the band, he stood front and center, sharing a microphone and trading vocals with Springsteen. He nailed it. Springsteen smiled watching Aucoin mimic his every step. The teenager with no music experience — outside of playing guitar in his dorm room — tore the roof off the joint.
The sold-out crowd gave him a standing ovation. Springsteen hugged him and they took a selfie onstage, just two regular buddies wearing T-shirts and jeans. Aucoin jumped back into the audience and life returned to normal, with a moment that will never be topped or even imagined.
I wrote a column about Aucoin’s magical experience with Springsteen, shaking my head in wonder as I watched the Youtube video of him rocking with the legend. Who gets to live out their fantasy like that?
Last week, I received an email from Aucoin: “Remember me?”
CultureMap: From the way you traded vocals on the mic, it looked like Bruce Springsteen and you rehearsed the song. Tell the truth, was it set up in advance?
Matthew Aucoin: It wasn’t rehearsed! Lots of people think it was. I tell them I wish it was because then I would’ve been able to have conversations and stuff with him.
CM: Fill me in, what’s happened the past five years with you?
MA: I was 19 years old at the time I hopped onstage with Springsteen. I am currently 24 and still live here in Spring. I graduated from Texas A&M cum laude with a business management degree in the spring of 2019. I currently work for my father’s company and hope to one day run his business, barring any changes in my music passion.
CM: Now that you’ve had a few years to calm down, how would you describe that experience?
MA: It’s something I am eternally grateful to Bruce for. I can’t thank him enough for taking a chance and letting me live out a once in a lifetime experience with my hero. It’s becoming crazier looking back because I can see how much I have aged since then.
Thinking about everything I have been through since then and where I’m at in my life now is crazy to think about! I wouldn’t have met so many people and incredible connections if it weren’t for that experience. It was life-changing.
CM: Did you practice No Surrender a thousand times on the chance that he might invite you onstage?
MA: I think I might have played it through one time in front of a mirror. I came prepared nonetheless and felt confident in case it did happen.
CM: What exactly did the sign say?
MA: The sign said, ‘Can a College Kid Play No Surrender With You?”’And at the bottom of the sign, I wrote all the chords to the song to prove to Bruce I knew how to play it. I really think that’s what got him to bite on it and let me play with him.
CM: That took incredible nerve or confidence or something — what was it?
MA: It was a little bit of everything. I was also on about two hours of sleep. My brain probably couldn’t comprehend what was going on! All jokes aside, as cheesy as it sounds, I truly live for moments like that. I have discovered over the years I love performing for people and love playing.
If you put Bruce Springsteen next to me, I am not going to let myself look back on that moment and be disappointed that I didn’t take advantage. I gave it everything I had. Looking back, I am very satisfied with how I did.
CM: What did he say to you after the song?
MA: He said, ‘Dude that was soooo good! That was so good!’
CM: How many times have you seen Bruce Springsteen perform live?
MA: I think I’ve seen Bruce like 13 or 14 times. It’s becoming hard to count! I saw him on Broadway last, and man what an incredible show! I can’t wait until he goes back on tour.
CM: You’ve got an album out, your first, with all original songs. Tell me about it.
MA: The chain of events that has led to this moment are quite incredible from how the ball got rolling on the project to how the project was executed. It was such an intimidating thought, creating a whole album. I had recorded on Logic Pro X for a couple years, but didn’t know anything about mixing and mastering. So essentially, I was making demos.
In spring of 2019, I made a demo of a song that’s on the album called Like We Never Met and I tried my hardest to make it as pro sounding as possible but simply couldn’t. I knew it wasn’t up to my standard, so I decided to not record until I got the help I knew I needed. I continued to write songs and record demos on my phone, but never tried producing them. Writing was really just an outlet for me, just a casual hobby.
Then one night, out came the song ‘Only You’ from my guitar. I would be lying to myself if I didn’t mention the amount of credit owed to the girl I wrote this song about, because this song was the first domino to fall in this entire process.
This was that ignited my desire to record and write again. All of a sudden I found myself cranking out songs left and right. A friend told me, “Hey, I have a guy that sees potential in your music and wants to talk to you. His name is Matt Tipton. He’s a producer and is looking for someone like you to work with.
He was very honest with me. I remember him saying ‘your music has lots of potential, but it needs more production to be more memorable.’ I knew it was the truth, and I knew I needed to hear it. I continued my songwriting tear. Matt and I started producing 14 songs. I submitted the album for release last month. I am proud of the work we put in. It’s the most fulfilling achievement so far in my life.
CM: Where can we find your album?
MA: The album is called Into the Past, available on Spotify, Apple Music, and all other major streaming platforms. You can purchase a CD as well from me if you reach out directly on Facebook.