Fastball guitarist talks two decades following breakthrough album
“I care so little about gear,” Fastball guitarist/vocalist Miles Zuniga announced in an October 2017 gear interview with Digital Tour Bus. “I could give a fuck. I just want it to turn on and work.” So who better to speak to Gearphoria about the upcoming 20th anniversary of the band’s sophomore and breakthrough album, All The Pain Money Can Buy.
“Gearphoria. Fantastic,” he deadpans. “There’s a scene in Spinal Tap … my favorite part is where they say to the manager, ‘It’s not your job to be as confused as Nigel.’ I live by that. I’m confused. You point me in the right direction and I’ll deliver the goods. My manager said, ‘Interview — 20th anniversary,’ and I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ That’s as far as it goes.”
Fastball — Zuniga, vocalist/bassist Tony Scalzo, and drummer Joey Shuffield — was formed in Austin, Texas, in 1995. Three years and two albums later, they were riding the crest of chart and radio success. All The Pain Money Can Buy, the follow-up to their Hollywood Records debut, Make Your Mama Proud , sold over a million copies within six months of its release and resulted in three hit singles: ‘The Way,’ ‘Out Of My Head,’ and ‘Fire Escape.’ The musicians that previously traveled in a van were now touring the world, earning two Grammy nominations and an MTV Music Awards nomination. More recordings followed — 2000’s The Harsh Light of Day, 2004’s Keep Your Wig On, and 2009’s Little White Lies — the first release on their own 33 1/3 label. Through it all, the tour dates never stopped. Last year, Fastball released their long-awaited sixth album, Step Into Light, and immediately returned to the road.
Over the course of two decades, Fastball continued hitting creative home runs, but the music industry kept changing, and so did Miles Zuniga. Music fulfilled him, but the extracurricular trappings of success and adulation didn’t, and so began years of personal and professional soul-searching, which he candidly detailed in a near 90-minute discussion.
GEARPHORIA: I thought we could do a “then and now” — recording then and now, gear then and now. “Then” being All The Pain Money Can Buy and “now” obviously being Step Into Light.
MILES: It’s a perfect kind of analogy, or perfectly fits with the way everybody’s lives have changed, I think. They used to spend more time, and stuff was more expensive and harder to do. It just was, because of technology. To make things sound a certain way you needed a lot of people who were skilled at what they did. Also the standards were different. Everything has changed. Today you literally can make records on your laptop, no problem, and people don’t really care. The sound — it’s hard to quantify. We’re all used to listening to MP3s, which to me sound like shit, but I listen to them too because they’re so convenient. I’m not going to stop listening to music or wait until I get home to listen to music. I love music, so I happily listen to Spotify and all these other things, even though the sound quality isn’t as good as vinyl. But it’s there in your pocket wherever you go. It’s fantastic.
So, in answer to your question, the difference was primarily one of money, and also I guess you’d say importance, or in our minds importance, because back then you had one shot. We had one shot and blew it. Then we had one more shot, and this really was it, and we were lucky to be there. We all knew it was a freak of nature that we got a second shot, because we should have been dropped. But it worked out that the president of the label got fired, so through some strange quirk of fate we dodged a bullet and had one more chance to have a music career…