Isolation. Conflagration. Tribulation. None of these roadblocks could slow down the Fastest Land Animal as the band raced to release its eponymous debut. How these resilient rockers overcame these trials to make their musical mark is a tale for another time. For now, let’s lift the veil on this enigmatic trio, one that’s hellbent on turning up and cutting loose, fate be damned.
Singer-guitarist Screamin’ Jack Novak was raised in rural England by his father, a nanny and two irascible rottweilers. At the tender age of 12, he left home for the greener pastures of Cleveland, where he slung burgers while saving up to buy a Hohner blues harp and a Radio Shack “Highball” microphone. He eventually sold the harmonica for a one-way bus ticket to Hollywood, where he worked as a bar back in exchange for cherished spots at open-mic gigs in many — if not all — of the live venues along the famed Sunset Strip. It was there that he met two likeminded delinquents and they hatched their plan to unleash the Fastest Land Animal.
The first was drummer Shark Samuels. Believed to have been raised by wild mastodons, Samuels was left a swaddled infant on the doorstep of his adoptive parents’ home in a quiet Pennsylvanian hamlet. Soon after his father’s untimely death from acute tinnitus, Samuels moved to New York City. There, his constant banging on pickle buckets earned him a loyal following along with a long list of noise citations. To avoid arrest, he packed up his buckets and moved to Hollywood, where his proclivity for disturbing the peace continued unabated.
Guitarist/bassist Alfonse Castillo completed the trio. Born into abject poverty in Três Corações, Brazil, Castillo dreamt of being the greatest footballer in the history of the game. Unfortunately, he could not afford a soccer ball, so he worked at local tea shops to save money to buy a grapefruit to use as a ball. Sadly, in a fit of insufferable hunger pangs, he ate it. Years later, while on his way to Hollywood, he bumped into the visibly inebriated American football legend Joe Namath and gave up his soccer dreams to focus on becoming the next great quarterback for the New York Jets. He abruptly abandoned his plans after watching one season of Jets football.
Today, the trio lives together in the basement of the Sunset Marquis Hotel and only comes out at night. The rest, as they say, is history.