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Fastball singer talks collaborations and a solo record before Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

Brian T. Atkinson
In this 1998 photo, Tony Scalzo, band member of the Austin rock group Fastball, poses as Santa Claus holding their CD "All the Pain That Money Can Buy", which went Platinum.

Fastball’s breakthrough hits from 1998’s “All the Pain Money Can Buy” (“The Way,” “Out of My Head”) remain pop radio staples today. Fifteen years and three albums on, the trio’s singer Tony Scalzo branches out with the new solo record “My Favorite Year” (due in March).

“Joe Blaney engineered,” the longtime Austin resident says. “Joe engineered (the Clash’s 1982 album) ‘Combat Rock.’ He’s very detail-oriented. The album came out great because of it.”

Fastball performs Dec. 16 at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, which opens Wednesday.

American-Statesman: Have you and (Fastball guitarist) Miles (Zuniga) been writing?

Tony Scalzo: Yeah, we actually have. Miles and I have been writing here and there over the last couple years. As far as plans for a record, (nothing) really solid. He just put out a solo record in the early part of this year and I have (mine) coming out the early part of next year. Eventually, I think we’ll do some recording (as Fastball). It may be an EP package.

Talk about your solo album.

OK. I started it in May of 2011 with a Kickstarter program. I recorded it here in Austin and it’s produced by Stephen Belans, who’s the drummer on the record. We’ve been at it little by little, carving it gradually over the last year and a half.

Did you write the songs yourself?

Actually, some of the songs are co-writes with Miles. Two were supposed to be Fastball songs a long time ago and they ended up falling off the cart. I resurrected those and I wrote one with Britt Daniel from Spoon and one with Chris Stills.

Tell the story behind the one you wrote with Britt.

It’s called “It’s a Free World After All.” We never even really spoke or saw each other. I sent him an email and said I had this song and I gave him an MP3 of the track with some of my lyrics that were already completed and then a little bit of “la-la-la-la-la” and he threw some words in there. He gave me multiple lines that I could cut and paste and I threw the ones I liked in the holes and it came out really good.

What’s the greatest challenge releasing records independently?

Here’s the thing: We have more power and control, but the downside is that it’s all nonmusical, day job (stuff). You have to come up with concepts and do all this footwork and run to the post office. The biggest challenge is being a damn record company when all you wanted to do is make music and record and perform.

(San Marcos songwriter) Terri Hendrix has been doing that for two decades.

Yeah, I love her. She’s been total DIY from Day One. She had a thing that I don’t think a lot of mainstream industry was interested in at that time. She had no choice. Her audience was selective. She found the folk thing, and that was good, and now she’s done it virtually on her own.

Is Kickstarter essential to most indie artists at this point?

It’s important to find those people who are really interested in what you do, and they’ll show up if you put out the call. I noticed that Kat Edmonson did really well on hers. For a relatively unknown artist to get that much funding and support is pretty awesome. Matt the Electrician got three times as much as he asked for! I got a thousand dollars more than I asked for. That was pretty great.

The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar