the band
detailed bio

PREFACE: This bio was written by the Black Rain webmaster. It includes information partially interpreted from facts and information found on other internet sites and resources. As such it most likely contains errors. If you know of any errors, or wish to contribute any information to the bio, please e-mail me.

1994 to 1995 - Magneto USA and the deal 'Eater'

Magneto USAMiles Zuniga moved back to Austin in the summer of 1994. He was introduced to Tony Scalzo one night at the Electric Lounge by friend Paul Minor. The two hit if off and later that night went out to see local band Horsies live. Miles and Tony began playing music, and quickly brought in fellow friend Joey Shuffield to play drums. Within a week the guys were on stage playing their first show. They decided to call themselves Magneto USA, adding USA to help stifle confusion with a Mexican band named Magneto. Along with original songs, they also played a popular cover of the Horsies song "I'm Glad" which was played in a sped up punk style (a la Green Day).

The band soon began recording several demos. In 1994 they released a 6-song cassette tape, that featured 4 original songs and covers of the Horsies' "I'm Glad" and Tommy Tutone's "Jenny (867-5309)." The demo tape came to be known as the 'Eater' tape. In May '95, the band released a 7" green vinyl single featuring two of the 'Eater' tape recordings.

In 1995, one of Magneto's demo tapes landed in the hands of Rob Seidenberg, an A&R rep. for Hollywood Records. Rob really liked the band and pressed hard to get them a recording contract. Despite skepticism by some upper level execs. Rob eventually won out and got the band a record deal. The label's only real contention was with the band's name. The band went through several suggestions including the names Starchy and Star 69, eventually settling on the name Fastball. Soon there after, the newly christened Fastball, set about to record their debut album.

1996 to 1997 - Please draw your attention...

Recorded in late 1995, Fastball's debut was comprised of energetic punk/pop songs, reflective of the band's live performances. Dubbed, 'Make Your Mama Proud' after one of its songs, Fastball's debut album was released in April 1996, backed by the single "Are You Ready For The Fallout?" Despite the recent popularity of punk/pop bands like Green Day, Fastball's debut album seemed to fall on deaf ears. As mainstream radio was in a transgression away from the punk/rock/grunge sound to a more pop/alternative, the album could not find a strong footing for support. Even the lead single, which was more light and poppy than the album in general could not find any support with disc jockeys.

The album would go on to sell less than 2,000 copies initially. The band was obviously disappointed with the outcome and response to the album. They were also concerned of how Hollywood Records would react to the album's response. Concerned that the label might decide to drop the band in response to the album's poor outcome, the band decided to concentrate their efforts into writing material for their second album. Tony and Miles began to further explore their individual musical styles, moving away from the styles and sounds associated more with their prior musical groups, and the style of their debut album. While writing, Tony read a newspaper article about a missing elderly couple. While thinking about the article, he began to write a song around the tragic story. Calling the song "The Way" after a line in the chorus, it would go on to become the band's first and biggest single.

1998 to 1999 - Starlets on "the way"

By late 1997, Fastball's sophomore album, 'All the Pain Money can Buy' was ready for release. However, hesitant over the results of the band's prior outing, the label sat one the album for six months, until one of the label promoters started playing "The Way" for some radio stations across the country. The song found a quick niche on mainstream radio, going into heavy rotation worldwide, and quickly on it's way to becoming one of the years best and most popular songs.

Released in March of 1998, 'All The Pain Money Can Buy' flew from record store shelves, due to the huge response to "The Way." The album received numerous critical reviews and accolades from music critics and publications like Rolling Stone. In addition to press, the band was also featured in several television spots across late night talk shows, music television channels, and more. The band and album won several music awards and the band also won the 'Best Long-form Video' award for their mini documentary 'They Wanted The Highway.'

After the initial success of "The Way" and the album, the band members quit their day jobs to head out on the road in support of their album. Fastball embarked on arena and stadium tours, opening for or co-headlining with several big name bands of the time, including Everclear, Blues Traveler and Barenaked Ladies.

'All The Pain Money Can Buy' spawned two more singles, the Miles penned "Fire Escape," and the short Tony ballad "Out of My Head." While the subsequent singles didn't top the success of "The Way," they each did well on the charts.

With the sales and overall success of the album and its singles, Fastball also began to see sales of their first album appear again as well. Hollywood Records, also reeling on the success of the band, signed on for another two album contract, and provided the band with generous funds and access to equipment to create it.

2000 to 2001 - A Harsh Light revealed

In 2000, the band began organizing a new set of songs, and with the new availability of funds and equipment began to experiment with different sounds and textures. Released in September 2000, 'The Harsh Light of Day', aimed to be a strikingly mature, melodic and expressive set of thoughts and musical expressions. The lead single was the upbeat "You're An Ocean," which featured the renowned Billy Preston on piano. The single easily found it's place on pop radio, and with desiring music fans. This, however, was the height of 'Harsh Light's' commercial success. A change in musical environment was underway at that time, which likely played some part to the album's meager commercial success.

Despite receiving outstanding reviews and being hailed by many music critics, the album was eventually seen as a failure. The album's downfall was not only due to poor radio impact but also due to poor support from the band's label. Toward the end of 2000, Hollywood Records was in the beginning stages of upper management changes during which  many of the bands supporters within the label were let go. Neither the band or album received much in the way of television or radio spots to promote the album. Poor sales and poor radio response further tarnished the label's opinion of the band.

Fastball did a small intimate club tour prior to the album's release, and a larger headlining/co-headlining stadium tour with Collective Soul following the release. After touring, the band took time off to spend with their families and recollect their musical inspirations.

During the first half of 2001 Fastball recorded classic songs by the Kinks and the Who for tribute albums. During the summer, Miles relocated to Nashville to work on his personal music. Toward fall 2001, the band re-grouped, and began writing songs for a new album. During this time Miles and Tony began collaborating on songs, with Joey joining in on occasion as well. Also during the fall, non-album track "Every Time She Walks" was featured in the soundtrack for the movie 'Summer Catch.'

Toward the end of 2001 the band was fronted money to record demos of their recent material. In December 2001, Hollywood Records, unpleased with the how the demos were sounding, and coupled with the outcome of the band's last album, decided to drop Fastball from the label. The band was not surprised by the label's decision and were somewhat relieved to be free from Hollywood Records. The break up was generally on good terms, and Hollywood provided the band with the funding to finish the demos they were in process of recording.

2002 to 2003 - It's high-low, I'm still reeling

During early 2002, while writing material and looking for a new record label, the guys also busied themselves with side music projects. Miles was busy with his personal music in Nashville, and Tony and Joey both joined local rock band Young Heart Attack. In May, Tony and Joey cut a cover of the Elvis Costello tune "Busy Bodies"  under the Fastball name for a tribute compilation. In June 2002 it was announced that Miles had decided to leave the band and pursue his own music career in Nashville. Miles' leaving was, however, on good terms, and he even allowed Tony and Joey free use of the Fastball name.

In mid summer 2002 Tony and Joey tried to arrange a small club tour before finding a suitable replacement guitarist, but the tour never made it off the ground. They decided to put Fastball on hold and concentrate on Young Heart Attack project, which was gaining recognition in the UK. In August, Hollywood released 'Painting the Corners,' a best-of Fastball collection. The band was only involved in the song selections for the release was.

At some point during the fall Miles and Tony began corresponding and writing again, trying to strengthen the friendship between them in the process. They decided to organize a small intimate acoustic tour. In December, the guys played as part of a celebration for their management company. What was supposed to be an acoustic show ended up being a full band show, one which Miles said had some of the best vibes they've gotten.

For the 2003 acoustic tour, the guys wanted to have a new CD to sell at the shows. For this the guys turned to friends and recorded an intimate acoustic show at a local record store. The independent live CD captured the band at their most cohesive and best performance wise, and became a quick favorite with fans. The reaction to the live CD and the success of the acoustic shows helped to refresh both Miles and Tony musically.

Over the summer the band continued writing and working on new music. They entered into a local studio in early November to record what would be their fourth studio album. The band was picked up by Rykodisc Records, with the help of friend and A&R rep Rob Seidenberg. By the end of December the recording was finished and the album was scheduled to be mixed in early 2004.

2004 to 2005 - "Rip out the trees and plant your flag"

By early February the new album was mixed, and the first signs of news and info. were appearing on the Ryko website. After heading back to Texas, Fastball began prepping their live show, readying up for the year's South by Southwest and a stateside tour. Also, liking contributions he made to some of the album recordings, the band added friend Jeff Groves to their touring lineup to play sax and bass. This freed Tony up to focus on guitar and keys, and also helped to beef up their live show.

During the spring, the album title 'Keep Your Wig On' was announced to eager fans, along with the release date, and teasers of several album cuts, including a full studio version of the song "Airstream."  Miles and Tony also embarked on a small acoustic tour, while Joey finished out his rounds as the drummer for Young Heart Attack. 'Keep Your Wig On' was released in early June 2004. The album received many positive reviews for its fresh sound and eclectic styles. The album featured many songs co-authored by Miles and Tony, songs which most fans noted as highlights of the album.

In August the guys went out on a moderate co-headlining tour of the US. Along the way, each band took turns headlining in the cities that they typically brought out the bigger crowd. While the tour was reasonably decent, the band was generally disappointed with its outcome. The crowds were moderate, and promotion of the shows was meek. The band's label, in the months prior, had collected volunteers for a Street Team effort, but did little with this or in general to help promote the tour.

Ryko's efforts to support Fastball were very limited. The album's primary single "Drifting Away," along with the UK single "Lou-ee, Lou-ee" received very little airplay outside of the local Texas region. Portions of the songs "Til I Get It Right" and "Airstream" were sampled in a couple TV shows, but the band had no featured television appearance. After the close of the early fall tour, the band had promised fans another round of tour dates later in the fall; however, the guys were not given any funding or support for further touring, and the shows fans on the west coast were expecting never materialized.

Disenchanted with how everything was going over the end of 2004, the guys took time apart and decided to busy themselves with other projects. In 2005, Tony spent a lot of time in the studio writing and recording music for solo releases and touring. He put out 2 EPs, one of which included a re-recording of the sought after song "Regretfully." He went out on a club tour across the states as a solo acoustic act  and played a few full band shows here and there with his band the Tony Scalzo Machine, featuring Joey on drums. Tony also put together a full album's worth of material, but the album was never released as Tony had no luck shopping it to labels.

Miles started rock/lounge act the Small Stars, an all-star band with Jeff Groves, and many other prominent Austin area musicians. The group hit the stage hard playing an onslaught of shows, and gaining a strong live following. They recorded and released independently, an album of live favorites and staples. The album sold well, and the group saw an unexpected regional radio single with their song "Otra Vez." The Stars continued to write more music and develop their live show, playing shows constantly through the end of 2005.

Aside from playing with Tony's band, Joey busied himself at the drum kit for several other area groups in 2005. He joined Rock Bottom Choir, an all-star Christian rock band. The band released an album together, but were lacking for many live shows. He briefly rejoined former band Young Heart Attack; however, the band broke up a few months later while in process of writing material for a new album. Around the same time he found stability after joining Austin band the Rite Flyers. The band spent a lot of time on the stage for their own shows and opening for other artists.

There was not much activity out of Fastball in 2005. The band played occasional shows throughout the year, the most notable being a 3 show tour of Spain opening for another artist.

2006 to 2007 - A light at the end of the tunnel.

2006 started out as a tumultuous year. The Small Stars continued with their flurry of live shows, also writing and recording new music for an expected late 2006 sophomore release. Live show attendees were already familiar with many of the album's songs, but a few studio recordings were posted on various pages in the Spring, giving fans outside the Texas area a hint at the sound of the new material. Miles also spent time working with other artists, like co-writing two songs with Courtney Taylor for the Dandy Warhols album 'Odditorium or Warlords of Mars.'

Tony spent much of the Spring undergoing a treatment regiment for Hepatitis C. The treatments took their toll on Tony, leaving him in a more frail and weakened state. Because of this Tony spent most of his time at home and was unable to play many live shows. Following the completion of his treatments, Tony recovered fairly quickly and was soon back to work recording new material. He released his 'I'm Gone' EP through his site like the other 2 before it. The EP was well received and sold out of its limited quantity quickly. Tony also followed suit with several acoustic and full band shows.

Spring 2006 also brought out some newer Fastball music. Miles took to the web, opening a MySpace page for himself and Fastball. On his page he posted a demo of 'Jupiter' favorite "Life" and a demo of 'Wig' era leftover "New Orleans 65." The fastball MySpace featured several rough demos of a few 'MYMP' songs and a demo of 'MYMP' era outtake "I Can't Wait Until I'm Cool." These demos and outtakes helped to wet eager fans' whistles for new Fastball material, along with a posting stating there would be "new music in 2006." Mid year saw the release of a previously unreleased song called "The Modern World," a track apparently recorded during one of Miles and Tony's acoustic tours. The band opened a new official site called Fastball The Band, which featured a downloadable concert DVD, the first readily available concert video of the band.

At the close of 2006, most Fastball fans were disappointed that no significant new music surfaced from the band as promised. However, Fastball fans had a new Small Stars record, and the likelihood of new Tony songs to look forward to in early 2007.

In early 2007, the Small Stars released their sophomore album 'Tijuana Dreams.' The album was again well received by fans and quickly sold out initially from online retail shelves. The Stars continued with their fury of live shows in support of the album, promising a larger tour of the US to come. Tony was busying himself writing and recording new solo material, releasing several new songs via his websites.

There were further postings on Tony and Fastball's websites and MySpace pages that only helped to fuel rumors and confusion over whether Fastball would be recording new material. The question of new Fastball material was put to rest when a posting appeared on Fastball The Band that Miles and Tony had been out writing and recording in California. Further reports of recording and songwriting have continued to appear in postings to various band related websites.

In October 2007, Miles and Tony started a podcast called Moderately Priced Winos, aimed at drinking wine and discussing wine and music. The have also used their podcast as a platform to play new or rare music, which so far has included an acoustic performance of new song All I Was Looking For Was You" and the debut of a studio demo of the song "White Noise." After four episodes the guys put the show on hold briefly to stay focused on their writing and recording.

So far things are looking good, with more to come...


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