You might not realize you know ’90s-era rockers Fastball, but, trust in your Entertainment Emissary, dear reader, you most certainly do. Remember “The Way?” How about, “Out of My Head?” Memory properly jogged? Excellent.
Now, then, on to the very exciting news that Fastball will return to Leesburg’s iconic Tally Ho Theater this Wednesday, Oct. 4! Don’t miss this chance to reacquaint yourself with Miles, Tony and Joey—they’ve so much more fantastic music to offer apart from the tunes we all know and love. Since their 1998 release, “All the Pain Money Can Buy”—which catapulted the Austin, TX-based rockers to fame when the aforementioned hits topped the charts—Fastball has produced
four additional albums, including the just-released “Step Into Light.” Wednesday’s show promises to showcase some of the band’s new stuff, while still giving fans the chance to sing along to the time-tested favorites. Doors open at 7 p.m.—tickets start at $30 with VIP options available for $60. Go to tallyhotheater.com to reserve your tickets or for additional details.
Full disclosure—this isn’t the first interaction your humble author has had with these fellas. Way back in 2013 I interviewed lead guitarist, singer and songwriter Miles Zuniga for an article published in the dearly departed Leesburg Today. Friends, it was one of the most memorable and subsequently life-changing articles I’ve ever had the pleasure to produce. It is included below, in its entirety. Happy readin’ and happy rockin’!
Austin Rockers Make Rare Appearance at Tally Ho Theatre
By Samantha Bartram
Leesburg Today | December, 2013
Talking with Miles Zuniga of Fastball, one senses the essence of a man for whom little would qualify as a “big deal.” A successful musician for the past 20 years or so, Zuniga is far removed from the late 90s salad days when the charts were burning up with his group’s still-popular hits, “The Way” and “Out of My Head.” To this day, he and bandmates Tony Scalzo and Joey Shuffield play to packed houses as Fastball, and while that’s a scene for which the trio is grateful, it’s no longer the center of their collective universe. These days, Fastball fans will find three gents fired in the crucible of popular music and seasoned for decades in the mélange of gigs and recording sessions required of today’s professional musician. This weekend, the group will appear at Leesburg’s Tally Ho Theater to thank fans for the years of support, plus give a taste of their more-recent songbook.
“We started out pretty intense, but things have mellowed out,” Zuniga said in a recent interview.
“When we started the band we were all in our 20s. The band was the only thing I lived for…then you go on that ride and all this great stuff happens, then you settle into a groove. We’ve got a more laid-back thing now. We know each other really well—actually, I think we’re better than we’ve ever been.”
Fastball tiptoed into the national consciousness, first releasing their 1996 record, “Make Your Mama Proud.” The album won some local awards, and in the hallowed ground of Austin, TX, music, Fastball was accepted as yet another small group of talented men who may or may not make the big-time.
Just two years later, that uncertainty was blown out of the water when Fastball’s sophomore album “All the Pain Money Can Buy” hit the shelves. The record’s aforementioned hits skyrocketed to the top of popular music charts, and suddenly Zuniga, Scalzo and Shuffield found themselves shooting music videos and appearing on late-night television to promote their album. This would mark the pinnacle of Fastball’s recording career to date, and the calcification of their place in popular culture. Today, one might assume some amount of resentment simmering within the group at being pigeonholed as one/two-hit wonders, but Zuniga sees the scene somewhat differently. “’The Way’ totally changed my life,” he said.
“Before [‘The Way’ and ‘Out of My Head’] I was always worried about what I was going to do for a living and life was really hard. After those songs, life got easier and gave me all these opportunities. There’s no way I can’t be grateful for what those songs did for me.”
So, while the fret positions and rhythms of those tunes might be as second nature to Fastball as breathing, there still exists a bemused wonder at their continued popularity. Zuniga gets it—he tells an anecdote about recently seeing Radiohead perform live, and feeling disappointed they failed to include some of his favorite songs. “I want to hear the hit song I want to hear,” he says, expertly shooting down the suggestion that maybe Fastball is sick of including their most popular tunes on today’s set lists. “[Radiohead was] kind of stingy with the big hit songs—stingy is what I call it,” Zuniga said.
“I appreciate you can compose material in all these crazy time signatures and how esoteric your music has become, but I want to hear the hits! Ladle them out! Throw me a bone! There has to be a balance. The only reason you’re [at a show] is because of those hits, and rubes like me coming to the show—we want to hear the hits! [Likewise] people want to hear ‘The Way’ and ‘Out of My Head’ and we will play them.”
That’s not to suggest Fastball hasn’t developed a wealth of material post-“All the Pain Money Can Buy.” From 2000 to the present, the band released three subsequent albums, “The Harsh Light of Day,” “Keep Your Wig On” and, lastly, in 2009, “Little White Lies.” But, while each member of the trio still lives in close proximity to one another, calling the Austin area home, they don’t often work, write or gig together as Fastball. “We’re all doing different things,” Zuniga said.
“And I’m interested in making sure of that. I’ve played with [Tony and Joey] a long time, and I sometimes want to do other things, make other sounds, go in a different direction. It’s no different than being in any relationship. Things can get pretty tough sometimes or drive you insane, or vice-versa. At this point all of us are happy working on other stuff. Otherwise, we would be [Fastball] full time.”
Zuniga admits it’s the occasional Fastball gig that pays the bills, but emphasizes wearing that particular musical hat isn’t always easy. “It’s never been easy to work together—if it was we’d have 10 or 12 albums, but we don’t have a tremendous output,” he said, acknowledging fan feedback would suggest another Fastball album would be very well received. At the time of this writing, there are no plans in the works for a new record—“We thought about it, we talked about it, but it just hasn’t happened…There are a lot of people who like to hear us play, so we do go out and play live, but it’s not so much us working on [new] stuff right now,” Zuniga said.
He encouraged the typical Fastball fan—for whom “The Way” and “Out of My Head” are likely burned in the brain as part of the soundtrack to their late high school/early college years—to check out the band’s last two records. “I think they’re better than the first three,” Zuniga said, adding, “and come see us live.”
“The way I feel about it is, you’re lucky to see us play because we don’t play that much…I’m always amazed people still know who we are and come to our shows. This band refuses to die!”
To keep up with Fastball’s comings and goings, check out www.fastballtheband.com.