6 quick questions with Fastball on their 6th album and 20+ years of catchy ’90s rock
Whether you grew up in the ‘90s or just appreciate all the amazing rock music that came out of that decade, songs by Fastball are certainly in your playlist. Hitting No. 1 on the Billboard chart, earning a Grammy nomination, and named one of the 100 Greatest Songs of the 1990s by VH1, “The Way” from the Texas band’s platinum-selling sophomore album “All the Pain Money Can Buy,” is probably their most recognizable single, but they’ve been producing great songs for over 20 years, releasing five albums along with a solo record in 2013 by singer/songwriter Tony Scalzo.
Now 52, Scalzo will be on the road for the next few months with Fastball promoting their anticipated sixth studio album, “Step Into Light.” They won’t reach the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre until Saturday, July 29, but NEPA Scene wanted to chat with him a bit before “Step Into Light” sees the light of day on Friday, May 19 to discuss the large gap between records, their latest music video, past experiences in Northeastern Pennsylvania, having the chorus of Fastball’s “Out of My Head” in a new hit single, and touring with Everclear again all these years later.
NEPA SCENE: It has been eight years since the release of Fastball’s last studio album, “Little White Lies.” What can we expect with your upcoming album?
TONY SCALZO: “Little White Lies” was a weird album to make. I think it’s great, but I didn’t have a blast making it. This new one, “Step Into Light,” was made in a short time with a bunch of great people, and it was fun for everyone involved. Positive energy was injected into the sessions by my old friend Chris Frenchie Smith. It shows in the recordings.
Any fan of Fastball would want to hear the hooks we’ve been known for in our music, and that’s just what you all can expect from “SIL.” Most of the songs are short, and there’s not a lot of fluff or fat. It really seems to go from song to song, with a good mix of different styles and instrumentation. We love it!
NS: The video for “I Will Never Let You Down” was directed by Nigel Dick, who has also directed award-winning music videos for Guns N’ Roses, Britney Spears, Def Leppard, Backstreet Boys, Nickelback, and countless other Grammy Award-winning artists. How was it working with Nigel? The video fits the song like a glove.
TS: It was great working with Nigel. Like an angel, he came to us in his car with all his equipment from Los Angeles to Austin. He produced and directed three videos in three days! The first one being the one you’ve seen for the single, “I Will Never Let You Down.” We have two more ready to come out around the time the record drops.
NS: You’re playing the Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre on July 29. Fastball are no strangers to performing in NEPA, having played the Scranton Cultural Center in 1998, the Catholic Youth Center in support of the Goo Goo Dolls in 1999, The Staircase Lounge in 2005, and the SteelStacks’ Musikfest in 2015. What can fans expect with Fastballs return to NEPA this summer?
TS: Fastball always has a good time playing in Northeast Pennsylvania! So many great folks, good beer… people seem to love rock ‘n’ roll out there!
We’re gonna play a lot of our songs from way back in the “Make Your Mama Proud” days right up to a bunch of songs from this new record. The band has been playing regularly for a while now with our bass player Bobby Daniel. All the stuff sounds better than ever right now.
NS: It is by no means uncommon to turn on the radio and hear songs like “The Way” and “Out of My Head” still in regular rotation. When you recorded 1998’s “All the Pain Money Can Buy,” did you have any idea that the singles from that album would pass the test of time so well?
TS: No idea. Yeah, we had no idea back in ‘98 that the songs we recorded the summer before would be doing anything! The fact was we were just trying to get in and make a record before we got dropped! Our first album, “Make Your Mama Proud,” had not done well. Plus, the record label was in a state of flux; they were changing staff, the future was unknown. It was almost like we snuck into the studio to make that album.
Once “The Way” started taking fire on radio, things moved very quickly. The next thing we knew, the label got their shit together and we were running around doing TV, going to Europe, going to Japan, going to Australia… that was a while back!
NS: Speaking of “Out of My Head,” a whole new generation is now singing its hooky chorus again in Machine Gun Kelly and Camila Cabello’s chart-topping single “Bad Things.” How rewarding is that?
TS: The MGK track has fallen right into our laps at a time when it just adds to the fire. We’re really excited to have a track like that on the radio, and knowing that it’s a Fastball tune really makes it feel like ‘98 all over again!
NS: With Fastball’s “All the Pain Money Can Buy” and Everclear’s “So Much for the Afterglow” both turning 20 years old, how did the upcoming tour with Everclear to support these milestone albums come about?
TS: Fastball had toured with Everclear when they had “So Much for the Afterglow” out. The other band was Marcy Playground. I’m stoked to do it; I wish Marcy Playground could be on the bill as well. We plan on doing something special for the 20th anniversary of “All the Pain Money Can Buy” next year, so look out for that!
by Corey Kime
Corey Kime graduated from Lackawanna College with a degree in communications and has played bass in local bands like ASHFALL.