Fastball Biography

Based in Austin, Texas, USA, alternative rock trio Fastball comprises Miles Zuniga (10 September 1966; vocals/guitar), Tony Scalzo (b. 6 May 1964; vocals/bass) and Joey Shuffield (drums). Previously Shuffield and Zuniga had been members of pop/rock band Big Car, who released one album, Normal, for Giant Records in 1992. However, that band disintegrated owing to record company problems, and the duo began playing with Scalzo through their mutual membership of Austin singer-songwriter Beaver Nelson’s backing band. The trio originally adopted the name Magneto U.S.A., before changing their title to Fastball. A series of local gigs brought rave reviews in The Austin Chronicle, leading to Fastball dead-heating for the best pop band category at the 1995/6 Austin Music Awards. Enlisting the services of joint-manager Russell Carter (also in charge of Matthew Sweet and the Indigo Girls), they then signed a contract with Hollywood Records for the release of their debut album.

Make Your Mama Proud was produced by Jerry Finn, who had previously worked with Rancid and Green Day, and faithfully recreated a stage show that matched energy with melodicism. In particular, the dual singing and writing roles of Zuniga and Scalzo drew initial comparisons with Fugazi, though in truth Fastball are a much more commercially orientated proposition. This was reinforced with 1998’s exceptional All The Pain Money Can Buy. They had perfected the art of the snappy pop song, with every track bouncing along. Success came with ‘The Way’, a hypnotic track that created further interest when they reached the top of the alternative singles chart in the USA. The song also charted at number 21 in the UK in September 1998. The Harsh Light Of Day was another punchy album containing the best elements of Fastball, their chunky Cars -like guitar work and often glorious harmonies. It was some surprise when the album fell off the US chart after only 3 weeks in October 2000, as both ‘This Is Not My Life’ and ‘You’re An Ocean’ were as good as anything they had previously recorded. The fickle world of pop rears its ugly head once more.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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