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Simply Saucer: A Band Many Never Thought They'd See Live

Simply Saucer founder and front man Edgar Breau said he never saw one of the band’s major influences when it played his hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, in 1966.

"We looked up the show on microfiche just to see what the review said. The entertainment editor that saw them was completely baffled by the show," said Breau via Skype, referring to the groundbreaking but similarly then obscure Velvet Underground.

Not unlike reaction the proto-punk Simply Saucer was receiving in the early 1970s?

"Yeah we got thrown off some stages," said Breau, referring to the group's edgy, decades ahead of its time sound. "We once played the 707 Club between Hamilton and Toronto, and four songs into the set they pulled the plugs on us."

Breau said they had a manager not afraid to say no to a gig. Any gig, even a high school prom.


"I remember the principal of the school coming in after our first set just begging us to tone it down a little bit, which we did not do," laughed Breau.

Integrity at a young age. Almost like they knew they had something but had no idea how to get it to ears that would understand.

Simply Saucer is often asked to define the sound that kept them far away from the mainstream. Think “early punk pre-cursors” with influences including VU, Iggy Pop & the Stooges. Or “krautrock” bands like Can, Neu, and early Kraftwerk. Throw in some U.K. prog/psych rock and with a jazz improvisational sensibility.

Ambitious for a young band. Did they know what they were doing?

"That’s a good question,” laughed Breau. “We thought we had something different for Hamilton, Ontario. There weren’t any Canadian bands doing what we were doing. But I think because we found it so difficult to make a go of it playing that music, when we crashed and burned in 1979, it took me a long while afterwards to dissociate the music from the lifestyle.”

As with many bands, the “substance abuse kind of party” got in the way of the music.

“It took me a long time to realize that what we had done in terms of my songwriting was something very cool artistically,” said Breau.

Simply Saucer’s lone album of recorded music during their seven years together is a mix of an aborted studio session from 1974 and a live show from the roof of a shopping mall in Hamilton a year later. Unfortunately "Cyborgs Revisited” was released 14 years after that live show, and 10 years after the band melted down in 1979. But sometimes the universe has a mind of its own. The album was immediately hailed as a lost Canadian classic and is today considered by many music magazines to be one of Canada’s greatest ever albums.

Breau has been back on the road with fellow founding member Kevin Christoff for a few years playing songs he wrote some four decades ago. Revisiting his original thought process in crafting those lyrics has helped him understand how to make them work in the 2010s.

“Some of it was from reading sci-fi and watching sci-fi movies,” Breau said.

He said understand his younger self helped. The dad who had now home-schooled five children said it was a long way mentally from his drug infested rock and roll lifestyle of the 70s.

“Sometimes I would see video of band that later on became big bands. And I would think, ‘Man, we were doing that in the 70s,’ and in a way we were even more ‘outsider’ than a lot of bands that later did very well,” said Breau.

Despite that tough look back, Breau said he's enjoying his time playing again with Simply Saucer. They've been getting great receptions on their U.S. tour.

“People are so excited to see a band they thought they’d never see live,” said Breau.

Simply Saucer plays Reverberation Vinyl in Bloomington on Saturday, Nov. 11. Showtime is 8 p.m.

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Jon Norton is the program director at WGLT and WCBU. He also is host of All Things Considered every weekday.