Miles Zuniga and Tony Scalzo, founding members of the highly acclaimed band Fastball, have become fast friends of the Expo, making numerous appearances. Their infectious, "Beatlesque" (and just as hip) songs and sound are a hit everywhere. Tony has written with a couple of our song contest winners, Alissa Moreno and Richard Harris, as one of the prizes of that annual contest.
These guys are genuine in every way, and funny as heck! Check out some of the after-hours stuff we've done with them in the videos below:
In 1994, Tony Scalzo, Joey Shuffield, and Miles Zuniga, formed Fastball in Austin, Texas. Shuffield and Zuniga first played together in a band called Big Car. After a stint with another group called Wild Seeds, Shuffield introduced Zuniga to Scalzo, who had played in a band called the Goods in Orange County, California. The trio decided to form their own band, and began playing around the Austin area.
When they first started out, the band tried out several names, such as Star 69, Magneto, Magneto USA, and Starchy, before finally deciding to adopt the name Fastball. They share the name with the group's favorite pornographic film. "It's a typical porno movie," Zuniga told Rob Brunner in Entertainment Weekly, "but it's about baseball. It's like a really raunchy Bull Durham."
Fastball quickly built a strong following in the Austin area, and created a regional buzz. As a result, a local journalist spotted them, and suggested that Hollywood Records check them out. They did, and Fastball soon signed a record contract. Scalzo and Zuniga took turns singing and writing the songs, while Shuffield backed them up on drums. In 1996, Make Your Mama Proud arrived in stores. The album didn't sell very well, but it did win the "Best Pop Band" category at the Austin Music Awards. The following year, the members of Fastball were unsure of their future.
The members of Fastball still had side jobs as late as January of 1998. Tony Scalzo worked the graveyard shift at The Bagel Manufactory in Austin. Little did he know at the time that he, Shuffield, and Zuniga would be on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Night with Conan O'Brien just four months later.
Fastball's second album, All the Pain Money Can Buy, was released on Hollywood Records. Within just six months, it had sold more than a million copies.
The single "The Way" stayed on top of Billboard's Modern Rock chart for seven weeks, and was a top five hit on Billboard's Top 40 chart. Scalzo was inspired to write the song in 1997, after reading a news article about an elderly couple who had disappeared in Texas. The couple was on their way to a family reunion when they disappeared. Scalzo imagined that they began reminiscing and decided to take off on their own romantic trip; however, the true story didn't have such a happy ending. The real-life couple had veered off the road in their RV and were found dead at the bottom of a canyon.
Fastball followed up "The Way" with a second single called "Out of My Head," which quickly joined its chart-topping predecessor. "Out of My Head" reached the top ten on Billboard's Top 40 chart and was a top ten hit on the Adult Top 40 chart for 29 weeks. The band followed up their album release with a tour that also featured Marcy Playground and Everclear. After that, they landed a spot on the H.O.R.D.E. tour.
In 1999, Fastball received two Grammy Award nominations as a result of All the Pain Money Can Buy. One was for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, and the other was Best Long Form Video for They Wanted the Highway. They also received an MTV Award nomination for Best New Artist.