The Early Years...
The band was formed in late 1987 in the Reading, Pennsylvania area, as a cover band playing music of Genesis, Rush, Supertramp, Steely Dan, Pink Floyd, Kansas, Billy Joel, Elton John, Level 42, Earth Wind & Fire, Bruce Hornsby, Toto, etc. The original line-up included Jeff Miller (keyboards), Buzz Saylor (drums/vocals), Mark Ludwig (guitar), Kurt Manderbach (bass/vocals), Brad Weisman (lead vocals). The band also incorporated a 3-piece horn section on select gigs (Dave Miller - sax, Harry Stevenson - trumpet, Lou Zanine - trombone).
This initial version of the band was created by Buzz, who was previously a member of the popular area cover band, Arthur's Museum (who's guitarist was Richie Kotzen - Richie went on to become quite a well-known guitarist around the world). Also in that band was singer, Alisa Anderson, who would later become the singer for Simon Apple. After leaving Arthur's Museum, Buzz held auditions for a new cover band, contacting musicians who he thought would fit the bill. Jeff and Brad were in high school at the time, playing in their own band, Self Control. They opened for Arthur's Museum 1-2 times, and that was the initial connection with Buzz. Mark also went to the same high school as Brad and Jeff, but was 3 years older and out of school at the time. The auditions were somewhat pre-determined, as the number of auditionees was small, and Mark, Jeff, and Brad made the cut fairly quickly. Kurt was in a few fairly well-known Allentown area bands, and had a solid musical reputation - he was simply invited by Buzz to join.
This version of the band became quite successful as a cover band over the course of 2 years or so, but they also managed to write and record a few songs during this time. The very first song written was "In The Common Man's Shadow" (Saylor/Miller), which was performed live, but not recorded until later (beyond a home demo)...this song appears on the "Archives" CD in home demo form, and also a newly recorded version. The only other four songs written during this period were: Summertime, Living On A Subway, Nam, The Apprentice. These were recorded and released on a cassette titled, "Spot The Looney" (taken from a Monty Python sketch). The cassette has long since been out of print, but a re-worked version of "Living On A Subway" also appears on the "Archives" CD.
The band then went through a few personnel changes that included Alisa Anderson (vocals), and Warren Daugherty (bass) replacing Weisman & Manderbach. At the time, the horn section was dropped, but Dave Miller remained on sax as a feature on many Pink Floyd, Steely Dan, and Supertramp songs. This version of the band became even more popular, with a reputation of great musicianship and playing (non-Top 40) songs no (or few) other bands played at the time.
Around 1992, Saylor and Miller decided to stop performing as a cover band and pursue their own songs. The band invited Allentown area guitarist Eric Beebe to join. Simon Apple became a 3-piece, with additional players for live gigs, adding Stefon Pizzuto on bass, and Kevin Checket on drums, and occasionally adding Dave Miller on sax. Saylor became the lead vocalist at this time. This is the era found on the "Archives" CD's. This was a great period of writing & recording wood-shedding. Eric had an extensive home recording studio, and much was learned about recording during this time - especially for Jeff. This period lasted about 4 years. After failing to secure any serious record label interest, Saylor and Miller decided to re-vamp once again.
First, they searched for a new lead singer. This took quite some time, but they eventually came across singer/guitarist, John Feldmann, who resided in Wilmington, Delaware. John was the only guy who could sing Squonk (by Genesis) properly! This became the "Toybox" era.
The rest of the story picks up with the "Band History"...
*Footnote: As a side project, Jeff has been playing in a duo under the name Reminisce with original Apple singer Brad Weisman since 2008...simply playing fun cover songs (Billy Joel, Elton, Sinatra, John Mayer, Michael Buble, The Who, etc) around their hometown Reading area.