Fastball Scores

Local Boys Hit the Big Time

We caught up with Fastball as soon as they arrived in town after their appearance on the Tonight Show. Miles Zuniga (guitar/vocals), Tony Scalzo (bass/vocals), and Joey Shuffield (drums) were all smiles as a hometown Austin TV crew peppered them with questions. When the interview ended, the reporter asked the band to say hi to his 10-year-old daughter (seems she ranked Fastball up there with the Spice Girls). Zuniga waved and deadpanned, "Hi from Baby Spice."

The huge success of the single "The Way" hasn't changed the band's down-to-earth attitude, yet. Fastball's latest album, "All The Pain Money Can Buy," is brimming with 13 well-crafted, melodic pop songs. The songwriting duties were shared by Scalzo (who penned "The Way") and Zuniga (who wrote the single "Fire Escape").

Were you surprised that "The Way" hit such a home run with fans of all ages, especially the young crowd? How does all this instant success feel?

Scalzo: We had no idea it would take off like this. It's all really cool and hey, whatever, Tiger Beat here we come. I feel like Grampa Hanson or something (laughing). I write for myself, as does Miles, but when people of all ages and walks of life accept your work and say that they like it...I've never known that kind of gratification in my life. It's truly awesome.

How did it feel to perform on the Jay Leno show?

Scalzo: It was pretty fun, but I honestly don't remember those first few minutes--it was like having a baby. It's real quiet back there and all I remember is hearing a muffled voice say, 'here's Fastball' and then the curtain went up. We've done a lot of television lately, which usually entails getting up early. It's always freezing cold in the studios because no one wants to sweat with makeup on.

How does it feel to be back on your home turf as the conquering heroes?

Zuniga: Even though I don't live here anymore, the rest of the band does and all my family and friends still live here. Austin is our spiritual home and we will always "be" from Austin, Texas. It's a great place to live and to play. But it's been real important to us that, not only do we go over like gangbusters at home, but elsewhere in the country too.

What's been the hardest thing to adjust to about your grueling non-stop schedule?

Scalzo: Not having any time to do what I want and having to be somewhere all the time. Not being able to watch the bands you're playing with, not being able to be a part of what's happening around you, because people are grabbing at you from all directions. It's always 'what next?'

So much for the freewheeling days of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Do you think that this is a result of the increased commercialization of the record and radio business?

Scalzo: It's not even rock and roll anymore! There are still some great rock and roll bands, such as Nashville Pussy and the Brian Jones Town Massacre, even Motorhead's new album rocks. There are still bands out there doing it, it just isn't popular with the masses.

How do you define pop music?

Scalzo: Songs that are less abrasive and more melodically pleasing to the ear. "The Way" isn't really a rock and roll song at all--it's just a catchy pop song.

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