Upstate Beat: Local Band Saucer Finds Family in Music; Releases New Album “Not Until Four”
Many of the world’s most famous bands contain siblings or other close family members, from The Beach Boys and AC/DC to Devo and The Kinks. There’s something about family ties that can power a common musical language and a strong, intuitive bond among bandmates – as well as fuel great music.
Poestenkill guitarist and songwriter Jim Crawley forged this musical bond for decades with his twin brother Joe, a hard-hitting drummer who performed with him in the Capital Region rock bands Private Plain, Crawdad and Blue Factory in the ‘80s, ‘90s and 2000s. Joe Crawley passed away suddenly in 2020.
Today, Crawley finds a similar intuitive musical connection by playing in the band Saucer with his 25-year-old son Evan, a drummer and guitarist, and bassist Jim Temple, a decades-long friend who also played in Private Plain and Blue Factory.
“Joe was really good at understanding what a song required. And he was a great song arranger. He was a force,” said Jim Crawley. “Even though we were twins, we were very different. But I wouldn’t have changed that in a million years. I thought it was great because we always kept each other on our toes.”
“Joe challenged me a lot. He challenged me personally. He challenged me musically. And he was one of the nicest people. And strong willed, opinionated,” added Jim Temple.
Saucer just released a new album, “Not Until Four,” the band’s second, and celebrated with a well-attended show at the Hangar on the Hudson in Troy last weekend. The two Crawleys and Temple all sing and write songs, and the new album contains vital tracks such as the nostalgic “Brown Sound,” the garage tune “Jump” and the politically minded “Catatonic,” which brim with shimmering melodies and forceful guitars.
It’s good, honest rock and roll.
The trio recorded the album DIY-style by themselves in an upstairs bedroom, turned into a music studio and practice room, in Temple’s Averill Park home. Evan Crawley, who works by day in the computer field, engineered the album on a computer that he configured, and he recorded the drums on a red Yamaha set that once belonged to his uncle Joe. A closet served as both an amp room and a vocal booth.
“When it comes to music, we don’t have to discuss much of it in the same way that I didn’t have to discuss it with Joe,” said Jim Crawley of his musical connection with his son. “We get more into language when we’re talking about the nuts and bolts of recording. I think that requires language, but the music is pretty intuitive. We know each other and what we like.”
Evan Crawley, who Temple calls an “old soul,” grew up listening to music made by his father and uncle, and early on he shared his father’s love for the indie-rock band Guided by Voices. Largely self-taught, Evan Crawley learned several musical instruments by soaking in the atmosphere of his family members and by tinkering on his computer with programs like GarageBand.
Temple and Crawley have known each other since attending college together at SUNY Oneonta in the 1980s. Temple – a Hyde Park, New York, native – moved to Albany in 1988 after Jim Crawley urged him to start a band.
As Private Plain with Jim Caringi on guitar and Jim Temple on bass (and later Eric Katz), the well-regarded Albany guitar-rock band built up a strong following in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. The band’s 1990 album, “Godwatching,” is a pivotal album of the period.
The band called it quits after relentless touring and efforts to get signed grew stale. The Crawley brothers later formed Crawdad, a staple of Albany venues such as Valentine’s in the early 2000s.
“When we brought [the music] back to a local level and decided to do it on our own terms and just have a lot of fun with it, then all the egos went out the window,” said Jim Crawley. “We became more focused on the real stuff, and that’s the music. And we’ve been like that ever since. This band is great because there are no egos. We play for each other.”
Evan Crawley also records on his own and plays with a talented local collective of young musicians in Albany led by groups such as Dan Carr and the Cure for Asthma, Canella and Cheesy Snacks, who share a label and home studio called Tummy Rub Records.
But Evan Crawley isn’t afraid to tell people how much he enjoys making music with his father and Temple. “When I started really getting serious about the drums, these guys were like, ‘Do you want to start a new project?’ I just have a really good time playing with my dad,” he said.
“It was something that I always wanted to do,” Evan Crawley added. “I always knew I was going to play with these guys at some point. And it’s been the best. It’s like the coolest thing in the world. And I do feel proud to tell people that I play with my dad.”
“When I step back and think about it, I think it’s weird as hell,” said Jim Crawley of the father-son musical connection. “But pinch me, man. I love it. There is nothing like this.”
The future goal? Play more shows.
“Watching Jim let loose [on guitar] is just one of the great joys of my life,” said Jim Temple. “And it’s just fun. If it wasn’t for Evan, I don’t think I’d still be doing this. Honestly, I feel 17 still, and I love that.”
The Week Ahead
Each song and storytelling program by Lost Radio Rounders is unique. Tonight at the Voorheesville Public Library, the group presents good folk songs inspired by bad people, including liars, cheats, thieves, murderers and more. Free. 6:30 p.m.
Brooklyn’s Razor Braids combine the vulnerable self-awareness of indie rock with dynamic instrumentation anchored in a ‘90s ethos. Catch the four-piece at No Fun in Troy tonight with powerhouse local groups Candy Ambulance and Canella. 7 p.m.
The Interactive Beatles Experience, anchored by brothers Billy, Matthew and Ryan McGuigan, allows the audience to choose the setlist for the Yesterday & Today performance at Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs on Saturday. 7:30 p.m.
The Beach Boys, as led by co-founder Mike Love and longtime member Bruce Johnston, bring their “America’s Band” tour, iconic California style and half-century legacy of music to Proctors for a matinee show on Sunday. 3 p.m.
Contact Kirsten Ferguson at [email protected].