“It was just circumstance,” Tony Scalzo says of the eight-year recording gap that preceded the new Fastball album, Step Into Light. “We’ve always been active, and we’ve never really gone a year without doing a bunch of Fastball shows. But things are really picking up now, and things are rolling like crazy.”
The 12-song Step Into Light, on the band’s own 33 1/3 label, embodies all of the qualities that have endeared Fastball to listeners during the trio’s twenty-year-plus career. Such catchy, compelling new tunes as “We’re On Our Way,” “Behind The Sun,” “Best Friend,” “Love Comes In Waves” and “I Will Never Let You Down” continue the band’s longstanding legacy of infectious songcraft and pointed lyrics, as well as playfully inventive arrangements that lend additional depth and resonance to Scalzo and Miles Zuniga’s distinctive songwriting.
“My favorite kind of songs,” Zuniga says, “are the ones that have hope in the face of hopelessness. Songs that say ‘Life sucks and everything’s against me, but I’m gonna smile and survive anyway.’ That’s the essence of rock ‘n’ roll music for me, and I think there’s a fair amount of that on this album.”
Fastball recorded Step Into Light in its hometown of Austin, Texas, with the three bandmates co-producing with longtime friend Chris “Frenchie” Smith (Slayer, Meat Puppets, …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead) at Smith’s studio, The Bubble. The album was mixed by legendary engineer Bob Clearmountain, who also handled mixing duties on two prior Fastball albums.
“We consciously decided to make this record in a short period of time, so we just went in and knocked it out,” Zuniga explains. “I really liked working that way, and I think the fact that we recorded it in under two weeks made it a better record. We didn’t have the luxury of getting too precious about things, so we gave ourselves a hard deadline and pretended it was the 1950s—the record light’s on, let’s do it! It also helped that we’ve grown a lot as musicians, so we have the ability now to get things right pretty quickly.”
“We had a great time making this record,” asserts Shuffield. “Working fast was really positive for us, because we had a lot of adrenaline going and there was no wasted time. A lot of the stuff we did was one or two takes of all three of us playing together in the same room. You can’t really do that as a new band, but the fact that we’ve been together so long creates a certain unspoken communication that saves a lot of time.”
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