Miles Zuniga of Fastball Finds The Way

When they write the book on bizarre rock tales, theyíll cover the obovious: Van Halen and their brown M&Mís, Led Zeppelin and the baby shark, Ozzy Osbourne and the bat, and so on. Although it probably wonít make the first (or second) edition, the story about Fastball and the stolen guitar deserves a worthy mention somewhere. Guitarist Miles Zuniga recalls:

"We were playing a show in Austin, and halfway through a song called 'Human Torch,' the entire audience literally ran out the door. Every single one of them. We looked around at the empty club and thought, 'Geez, we must suck.'"

What Miles didnít know was that someone had entered the club through a door behind the stage, grabbed his red Gibson Chet Atkins Tennesseean, and split. The audience witnessed the crime, gave chase en masse, and caught the thief in an alley outside the club.

But thereís more. Deciding it was a story worth telling, Miles called the local paper the following day and rattled off the information to a beat reporter. "She loved the angle and arranged for a photographer to take shots of me reunited with my Gibson. The next morning I went to the store to pick up a paper, expecting the article to be stuck on the last page of the metro section. But, to my complete surprise, there was a huge picture of me and my guitar on the front page. I guess it was a slow news day."

Zuniga and his Fastball bandmates Tony Scalzo (bass) and Joey Shuffield (drums) are getting used to making headlines: the Austin trioís sophomore LP, All The Pain Money Can Buy, is rocketing up the charts at breakneck speed, thanks to the success of their hit single, "The Way."

Naturally, the fact that he never set out to be a guitarist makes Milesí good fortune more ironic than anything else. He started playing at age 11 only because guitarists in the church choir received all sorts of little perks. Laughs Zuniga, "While attending Catholic school, the nuns made me sing in the choir. I was really self-conscious and didnít like it at all. One day, I noticed that the guitarists in the choir didnít have to sing, or stand and kneel constantly like everyone else. They also got to receive communion first. I thought, 'These guys have got it made.'"

And though he didnít realize it at first, Miles had found both his calling and his saving grace. "I was scrawny and short and always getting picked on," he says. "I remember in particular how horrible the seventh grade was. One day I heard Cheap Trickís 'I Want You To Want Me' on the radio and thought, 'I bet the guy singing that song was a nerd once just like me. I bet he could never meet girls and was always getting beat up like I was.' It was then that I realized cool kids donít form rock bands. Cool kids end up getting married, with a real job and a mid-life crisis. Itís guys like me Ė guys that want to take revenge on the whole world for treating them like shit Ė that form rock bands. And let me tell you," he laughs, "Success is definitely the best revenge."

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