It seems deeply unfair when genuinely talented bands get overlooked. Against all the odds, sometimes in spite of having the hits, albums don’t get the backing they deserve, bands disband before the blink-and-you’ll-miss it reporting style of music publications get a chance to focus their attention on them, or for many, the commitment and risk required to tour relentlessly gets old when you’re playing to 50 people in every other town and city. I am here today to showcase one of these bands that came from the UK and never really achieved the level of success that I believe they deserved. Today’s featured band is called Fastlane.
Fastlane were a five-piece British rock band disguised as a pop band by the saccharin-sweet vocals of their lead singer Ben Phillips and their seemingly effortless three-piece harmonies executed with the help of Matt O’Grady on lead guitar and Ian Maynard on bass. The band was filled out by Adam Biffen on rhythm guitar and Gary Tough on drums. My introduction to the band was the track “Dreaming” from their debut album New Start. The song itself is an aural assault; it is both a fast-paced and riff-based rock song at heart that rarely lasts five seconds without the introduction of another breathtaking harmony used to emphasize the poppy element that is the yin to their rocking yang. If ever there was a band taking full advantage of their opportunity to impress and hook you in the space of 4 minutes, Fastlane were up there with the best of them.
Their second album Overdrive was frankly more of the same, but it would be fair to say that they had noticeably smoothed off a few of their rougher, rockier edges. Even though the songs still featured those polyphonic guitar solos and heavy distorted backing, the production seems to hone in and showcase the vocals to the extent that the band’s non-vocal input seemed undervalued on the hit songs of the album, “Motion” and “Walk Away”. This time, the album was picked up by Punktastic Recordings in the UK as well as by Pyropit Records in Japan. Overdrive reached #4 in HMV Japan’s Pop Punk Chart and #283 in the overall HMV Music Chart. The record was successful in putting the band in front of a bigger audience abroad, but it did little on these shores that New Start hadn’t already done for them.
What made songs like “Dreaming” and “Elevator” so enjoyable for me was the realization that this was how the band sounded live too. I had the experience of listening to the band do a vocal warm-up before a show, and I was blown away by their range and by their execution. I can also say that I found them to be extremely personable, and well deserving of all of the success that they did manage to attain.
While they achieved some minor success in Japan with the help of Pyropit Records, their relentless touring schedule in the UK with the likes of Gratitude, New Found Glory and Zebrahead just never seemed to pay off. The band split up in 2007 citing the reason for this being that they all left to get full-time jobs. In turn, we all have to suffer the injustice of never truly hearing the band reach their peak.
Check out Fastlane – “Eyes Closed” from New Start
You can listen to more tracks at their MySpace page: