Billboard Music Awards

Fastball Premieres New Album 'Step Into Light': 'I Feel Like We're At the Peak of Our Powers Right Now'

Sandra Dahdah
Fastball

It took eight years for Fastball to release a new album, but only two weeks to actually record the 12-song set, which is premiering exclusively below.

Step Into Light is the Austin, Texas trio's first album since 2009's Little White Lies, a function of both time spent on other projects and of waiting to set up the group's own label (33 1/3 Records) and distribution. No time was wasted working in the studio, though, as Fastball produced itself.

"I just remember working for two weeks, 12 hours a day, and by the end of it I was just flat on my back in my bed, (saying) 'That was insane! Why did we do that?!'" singer-guitarist Miles Zuniga tells Billboard. "It was really just get up, go in and do what needs to be done; Tony (Scalzo) would be doing vocals upstairs, I'd be cutting guitars downstairs, or I'd be doing something upstairs and Tony would be doing keyboards downstairs. There wasn't any chin-scratching or any of things you'd typically do to take up time. It was a kind of golden age of rock n' roll type of scenario. Those guys would do records in a day. It had that urgency about it, and that urgency really does inform the music."

Variety is the most apt term for Step Into Light. The album has plenty of the group's trademark riffy, melodic rock -- including the first single, "I Will Never Let You Down" -- but Fastball stretches itself a bit on tracks such as the cosmopolitan "Lillian Gish" and the continental "Frenchy and the Punk," the latter taking part of its name from co-producer Chris "Frenchie" Smith. "I was amazed at (the diversity) myself," Zuniga acknowledges. "We've grown a lot as musicians. During the time off we’re not sitting around; We're all doing stuff and playing with other bands and doing all kinds of weird gigs as musicians. That stuff really gets in your bones; You start to play different styles of music and you get comfortable with different kinds of things. Your vocabulary grows and you're like, 'I know what this needs. This needs to be a surrealist little French pastiche' or 'This one needs to be a little droney waltz.' I feel like we're at the peak of our powers right now."

Fastball has joined Everclear for its just-started So Much For The Afterglow 20th Anniversary Tour, and timing is certainly working on the group's favor; Its 1999 hit "Out Of My Head" was used as the source material for the Machine Gun Kelly/Camila Cabello collaboration "Bad Things," which Zuniga says has sent listeners scurrying to check out Fastball's original on YouTube and other sites. 

"It's like pennies from heaven," Zuniga says. "(Machine Gun Kelly's) people called our people and our publisher. Tony wrote 'Out Of My Head,' so it was really his call. He signed off on it and I swear three weeks later it was on the radio. It came out and immediately blew up. Our videos on YouTube only get 5,000 views, 10,000, maybe 20,000, but 'Out Of My Head' has almost 200,000. So no doubt it's all coming from ('Bad Things'). You can't plan that stuff, but the timing couldn't be any better."

Rock out to Fastball's new album Step Into Light above.