They’ve been called The Greatest Band You’ve Never Heard, the Ultimate Cult Group, Hamilton, Ontario’s deepest Underground legends and, consequently, Canada’s best-kept-ever musical secret. Nevertheless, you could find Julian Cope spinning their music in England, Steve Wynn collecting their records in L.A., and Thurston Moore still searching out original artyfacts whenever he traversed the Toronto area. Why, even the esteemed socio-musicologist Bob Mersereau boldly placed their Cyborgs Revisited at # 36 in his Top 100 Canadian Albums book (strategically right between Leonard Cohen and k. d. lang).
Somehow though, it’s taken over forty… yes, that’s right, Forty years for the Story of Simply Saucer to finally be told in all its full and fitful glory. Sure, key band members reminisced several years ago across the pages of Liz Worth’s exemplary Treat Me Like Dirt, but it took the diligence and downright diehard determination of musician/cultural detective Jesse Locke to coax then collate the entire Saucer saga under one two-toned cover at long, long last.
Full disclosure: your ball-busting Pig here contributed his own curly tale or two to the proceedings – remaining, I’ll admit, the first guy who somehow managed to get seven inches of the band’s nice noise onto solid black vinyl back in the daze. But the real wizard and true star of the hour now finds himself actually becoming a rhythmical part of the current, as in 21st Century chapter of our story himself.
How, where, when, and maybe even why you may wonder? Let’s ask him:
Jesse, Heavy Metalloid Music has been out since November now. How is it, and you, doing?
It’s been a bit of a whirlwind! So far we’ve done four launch events in Cleveland, Redford (just outside of Detroit), Toronto, and Hamilton, with two more coming up in Montreal and Ottawa this month. Combining book releases with live sets from Simply Saucer is the best way to celebrate this very active band.
And the general reaction to this all?
I’ve been contacted by people who saw them play back in the ’70s, Hamilton heroes whose stories I documented in the book as well, and other longtime fans from totally unexpected parts of the world (Switzerland!). Conversations at the merch table are a lot of fun too, including one I had recently with the brain behind the Nash the Slash fanzine, The Nashional Enquirer. Still need to get my hands on one of those…
Are you at all surprised by how quick, widespread, and enthusiastic these responses have been?
I expected that record collectors and other Saucer fans were going to jump on it, but the amount of attention the book has received outside of those circles is a nice surprise. I feel pretty lucky that I got to appear as a guest on CBC Radio Q alongside Saucer frontman Edgar Breau to talk about the band and the book. That’s helped spread the word for sure, but I think their music and jaw-dropping stories speak for themselves once people clue in. Clearing high school gyms with noise jams, playing on the roof of a mall, fighting biker gangs… and that’s just the ’70s!
How have the band itself, founding members Edgar and Kevin Christoff especially, reacted to having their story-in-print after all these years?
I’ve talked to Edgar and Kevin about that very topic a lot. While parts of their story have been out there for years, largely thanks to Treat Me Like Dirt, it’s never been laid out in this much detail before. Their lives in the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s in particular were something I wanted to dig into, and it ended up being just as fascinating. Edgar worked in a steel mill, home-schooled five children, learned how to play finger-style like John Fahey, and even ran for political office. During that time he and Kevin never stopped collaborating, and it was really cool for me to learn more about their shortly lived country-psych band The Third Kind from the mid-’80s. While Edgar wasn’t always happy to revisit the cyborgs, these days he and Kevin seem to look back at their accomplishments and misadventures with pride.
Plus! You’ve actually been Simply Saucer’s drummer at the North American book release events so far. How has that been?
It’s been a dream come true and an amazing epilogue to my last three years of work. I was honestly never expecting it! Their songs have been rattling around in my brain forever so it’s such a trip to get to play with them at our book launch gigs.
My other band Tough Age toured over to Tokyo earlier in 2016 and we were covering Saucer’s “Bullet Proof Nothing” at those shows, but it obviously didn’t prepare me for this. I just wish I could have documented these experiences in the book, but Edgar asked me almost immediately after it was sent to the printer. Guess we’ll have to wait for an expanded second edition and see where things go from here…
So what plans have you, Heavy Metalloid Music and otherwise, for 2017 and beyond?
Our next book launch show is in Montreal on Feb. 24th at Le Ritz PDB with the stacked bill of Red Mass, No Negative, and a Q&A hosted by Joni Sadler from CKUT. Then we’re playing in Ottawa on Feb. 25th at the Dominion Tavern with the psych ragers in The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol and a Q&A from the hosts of City Slang Radio. After that, Simply Saucer will be touring to New York, Boston, and Philadelphia in March. I won’t be joining them for those shows, unfortunately, since I’ll be touring Canada with my other other band Century Palm at the same time. Shaping up to be a busy year!
Plus on top of all that, the 40th anniversary 2-LP reissue of Cyborgs Revisited – featuring the full Jackson Square live show for the first time! – is coming out from L.A.’s In The Red imminently, and Edgar has a fantastic new solo album coming down the pipe too.
P.S.: a much more in-depth interview with Jesse Locke appears as well in Issue # 1 of the wonderful Vulcher Magazine. And of course Heavy Metalloid Music itself can, and should be grabbed asap direct from the fine folk over at Eternal Cavalier Press.