Today’s Feature – July 26-27: Bag Of Toys

July 27, 2008 at 6:53 pm (Today's Feature)

Whether you’re talking with em’, hanging with em’, or listening to em’, it’s hard not to have a good time with the gentleman of Bag of Toys. Yea that sounds corny – after all their name is “Bag of Toys” – but Robert Tait, Steve Cowgill, Joe Schewe and Robert Stadler know that playing a show or creating an album is more than just hard work – it’s a party. And what better setting than Northern California for this good time, and music “completely original, infectious and drenched in the sun and sand.”

Their latest offering “Afternooner,” much like their 2006 debut “Nooner,” contains “acoustic surf-rock that doesn’t suck,” garnering both great reviews and fan loyalty. The main difference here is that Nooner was recorded in Tait’s apartment for a small sum of cash – Afternooner was a little different. While their style is maintained, Bag of Toys took on a more collaborative approach in the record’s songwriting, assuring fans the new collection wouldn’t sound like “Nooner” on repeat. It was also record at Gadgetbox Studios in Santa Cruz, produced by Andy Zenczak and mastered by John Cuniberti (Dave Matthews, The Grateful Dead, Aerosmith). You’ll notice the influence from the new setting, “incorporating elements such as funk, country, and Latin rhythms.”

Like I said before, a live show with these guys is a party, so get out there to one. And it helps if you like beer. No doubt, Bag of Toys enjoys a brew or two. The new album is available now, so add it to your collection and get into the XXQ’s to learn more.

XXQs: Bag of Toys – Steve Cowgill (lead guitar) (PEV): As a band, has music always been a passion for you? How did you first form as a band?

Steve Cowgill: Music has been a huge part of my life as long as I can remember. We started as a band thru the musician’s section of Craigslist. Robert Tait (singer/guitar) and I met first and decided to start a band. Then we started auditioning bass players and drummers and were lucky enough to find Joe Schewe (bass) and Robert Stadler (drums). Then The Bag was at full power.

PEV: Now calling Northern California home, what kind of music were you listening to growing up?

SC: I’ve never really been into country or really hardcore stuff, but I have gone thru tons of different musical phases while I was growing up. The classic rock phase, the 80’s phase, the punk phase, the grunge phase, the hip hop phase, the indie rock phase, the surf rock phase, etc…

PEV: Tell us about the early days in the music business for you. What were your first performances like and what was it like working your way into gigs?

SC: Our first performances were actually really fun because the crowds were about 95% full of all of friends, so it was always like a big party every time. And having a built in crowd of friends made it pretty easy for us to get gigs when we first started. Then it was a matter of building an actual fan base so we weren’t reliant on our friends to pack the house.

PEV: Now, how has your style and stage presence changed from those first shows?

SC: I don’t think our style has changed all that much from our first shows but our stage presence has really improved over the years. Our stage presence was pretty freaking horrendous when we first started out, (and I still think we have a lot of room for improvement), but we’re definitely getting better.

PEV: Was there a certain point when you realized that music was going to become more than just a hobby? As a band, did you find it more comfortable to have a support of the group, when you decided to enter the music business?

SC: For me, I have always taken this band seriously from the very beginning. I felt like the songs we had were really something unique so I never really treated the band like a hobby. Although, as I type this, all four of us still have full time jobs so I suppose technically this is still a hobby. But things seem to be moving pretty fast right now so hopefully this new album takes off and we can do the music thing full time.

PEV: Who have you not collaborated with so far that you would like to?

SC: We really haven’t collaborated with anybody other than ourselves at this point but I know we’d love to do something with G. Love or the guys in Stoopid.

PEV: In all your travels, which city do you think offers the best scene for music?

SC: We haven’t been out on an extended tour yet, but we’ve done some mini-tours down to so-cal. And that’s a great scene for our music.

PEV: How has “life on the road” been for the band? Good parts? Bad parts?

SC: Since we’ve only taken mini-tours I can only comment on life on the mini-road, but it’s been great. Cruising around and playing music with your buddies is pretty damn fun. The only bad part I can think of right now is all the travel time. But I’d probably have more to bitch about if we went out on an extended 3 – 6 month tour instead of the mini-tours we’re doing now.

PEV: Any favorite spots along the road?

SC: San Diego. Sun, blue sky, gorgeous women and tons of good burrito spots and bars. Heaven…

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Bag of Toys performance?

SC: Hopefully a good ole fashion drunken rock show.

PEV: Is there an up and coming artist out right now that you think we should all be looking into?

SC: Check out an album by Sean Hayes called Big Black Hole and the Little Baby Star. Also, check out The Pat Jordan Band. Good stuff.

PEV: The group released their full-length debut album, “Nooner” in 2006. Which got great reviews and propelled the band into the next level of music. Did you expect the album to be so well received, and so fast?

SC: I was surprised and not surprised all at the same time. I really believed in the songs so I wasn’t all that surprised that other people seemed to like them as much as I did. But at the same time, we recorded that CD in Tait’s apartment for almost no money at all, so it was pretty surprising to see what was essentially a home recording getting such a great reaction.

PEV: Now set to release your second full-length album (July 1st) entitled “Afternooner,” what can fans expect from this? How is the music different from “Nooner”?

SC: Fans can expect more of what they liked from Nooner, but also some movement into some new styles and some new grooves. The songwriting on this album was much more collaborative on Afternooner, so it’s not just a repeat of Nooner. But we wanted to make sure that we grew as a band, but still stayed true to that vibe from Nooner that we loved so much.

PEV: What is one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of Bag of Toys?

SC: We hate jean shorts.

PEV: When you sit down to write, what kind of environment do you surround yourselves in?

SC: It’s usually either one of four things. Tait writing solo at his place. Me writing solo at my place. Tait and I writing together at my place. Or the full band jamming out at my place. Either way, there is usually some beer involved and some sports on the TV with the sound off.

PEV: Ten years from now, where will the band be?

SC: Not a clue. I’m not even sure where we’ll be in one year. Hopefully out on a national tour.

PEV: When you are not touring or performing, what can we find the members of Bag of Toys doing in their spare time?

SC: Since we all still work full time you’d be most likely to find us at our jobs. Or you’ll find Tait surfing.

PEV: Before a show, are there any pre-show rituals you do or is just go out there and perform?

SC: Is beer a ritual?

PEV: Playing so many shows and touring so much, there has to be some great live stories. Tell us, do you have any embarrassing or funny live performance stories?

SC: I don’t know if this is a great story of not but the first one that comes to mind is one time when we were waiting to go onstage and just kind of hanging out at our merch table while another band was playing. This guy walked up and started talking to us a bit and was checking out the merch. He was really excited and was clearly very into our band. He picked up a CD and he said “this is the band on stage right now, right?” So it became immediately apparent that he had no idea at all who we were and he was digging the band on stage and not us. He seemed pretty disappointed but for some reason he ended up buying one of our CDs anyway. I think the guy was just embarrassed.

PEV: In one word, describe Bag of Toys.

SC: Burpy.

PEV: So, what is next for Bag of Toys?

SC: Releasing after-nooner. Then hopefully some solid radio airplay and a national tour.

For more information on Bag Of Toys, check out


1 Comment

  1. Jennifer Lyneis said,

    I love my burpy boys!

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