Tony Costanza Interview by Craig Sternberg, questions typed by Author Marisa Williams…
Craig: Lets Start this off with some basic drumming questions. How long have you been drumming?
Tony: Who the fuck said I play drums? I'm just sick in the head. I just kill drummers, amputate their heads and limbs, so they'd never play again. Enough about that. Since I was little…
Craig: Did you ever get lessons? Were you in Drum Corps or Marching band of any kind during your school years?
Tony: I used to take jazz lessons from Buddy Rich's best friend Irv Kluger. He was a big band player who played with Tom Dorsey. He has a few books out. I couldn't afford the lessons, but he tended to like me, so he used to let me. Where we had to pay for the lessons was a separate building, and when I'd have to pay for the lessons, I'd never pay. Then it got to the point where I was comfortable with all my rudiments and theory, and he started …um, he started… what do you fucking call it? Introducing music notes and how to read music, right? I just felt like that was unnecessary to learn that with the style drumming I was going to be doing, not a studio musician or anything. So after him putting emphasis on the reading and writing part of the music, I discontinued classes, but I'll never forget him lending me Buddy Rich's
actual snare drum to play a gig with.
Craig: Who are your top influences when it comes to drumming?
Tony: I've never really had drummer influences. That's the wrong English. I've never really been influenced by a specific drummer. There's drummers that I totally appreciate and love their style and how they play, but I'm most intrigued with how they fit parts into a song. From shooting names out of the air, because I'm more into songwriting than actual musicianship, and over the years some drummers that I've loved are Gene Hoglan, Bill Ward, Dave Lombardo… I don't know. That's enough.
Craig: What 5 CD's are you currently listening to?
Tony: Full Blown Chaos, Papsmear Rough Mixes, lemme think if I was in LA, because I don't have my CDs here (in Las Vegas). Machine Head, Burn My Eyes, Marvin Gaye's Greatest Hits and Amy Winehouse – all her songs, everything. Marisa's blood clots.
Craig: How do you warm up before you play live?
Tony: I take a nap. I air drum the set using a total of three pairs of drum sticks. I stretch, I drink two beers or one shot, I get a few blowjobs, just kidding.
Craig: Can you remember a night where you played your best? If so when and where?
Tony: No. I try to play the same and have the same impact every night. Normally, I play the same no matter what size crowd or venue, always the same impact, same veracity.
Craig: What equipment are you using nowadays?
Tony: Nine millimeter semi-automatic. Just kidding. I gotta think,'cause I got so much shit back home. I use an old Gretch five-piece set with a Gibralter double-kick peddle in one project I do. I also use a $200 Pulse five-piece drum kit for punk bands that I play with, so I can kick shit over. I feel as long as you have the proper drumheads and hit the things right, it doesn't matter what you're using. I'm happy with the Pulse kit. I use an S and S Stinger's dual zone drum trigger five-piece pad set with a double stealth, like my cock in you and someone else in your ass, double bass trigger pads. I'm using a pro-export 7-piece kit in another project. My favorite and most prized possession that I use for studio and big tours only is a … let me think what year is this? 1900DW one, two, three, four, five, six, seven…um, burgundy, 1990s's burgundy stained wood finished 7-piece drum kit with extended toms and kickdrum. It sounds better than any fucking drums I've ever heard. Actually, Down was trying to rent that kit from me for the recording of the Down II record, because of the tones that come out of it. I used that drum kit on the Crowbar Sonic Excess in it's Purest Form record or CD or however you say it: Produced by Dave who played guitar for Ugly Kid Joe and went onto produce 13 Stones and Evanessence. Also, I have a Gibson Gothic Flying V, Audacity Recording Software, Boss Metal Zone Pedal, a Randall RG100 Solid State Head with two old Mesa Boogie cabinets, a Roland Doctor Rhythm drum machine, and a Zoom guitar pre-amp.
Craig: If you could give a piece of advice to kids just starting to drum, what would it be?
Tony: Stick to your own business and practice hard. Never give up your dreams, no matter what they are.
Craig: Who gave the best live performance you've ever seen?
Tony: The best band performance was Vio-lence, but the best drum performance was Terry Bozzio.
Craig: Ok Tony, For those who don't know who you are. Can you run down a quick list of bands you've played with and the recordings you were involved in?
Tony: If you don't know who I am, then go suck a cock. Man, fuck. I'm kidding. Papsmear vocals, 1986, Renaissance Records. (clears throat) 1993, first two Machine Head four-track recordings. Um, man, 199?… I don't know, 95, uh, Fear of God new song demos for Warner Brothers. 1997, Nation on Fire demos, guitar, drum programming, engineer, Def Jam. Also 97, Small Still Voice, vocals, drum programming, guitar, recording, engineer and producer, Columbia Records demos. Uh, 2000, Crisis, title track for Dee Snider's movie Strangeland, "Captain Howdy," TVT Records. 2003, Crowbar, "Sonic Excess in it's Purest Form," Candlelight Records. 2004, DropBox, three-song demo that got band signed to Universal Records, produced by Sully of Godsmack. 2008, Papsmear full record and DVD, vocals, M-Theory Records/Metal War Productions.
There's other ones I can't remember at the moment.
Craig: You were an original member of Machine Head, even contributed to writing a lot of songs on the legendary record 'Burn my Eyes'. Why did youleave? Do you have any regrets?
Tony: I left the band, because I was very young and new at playing drums, especially double bass. The band called for a lot of double bass. Basically, out of my own insecurities, I self-destructed. I wasn't secure playing double bass and was being introduced to a lot of Bay Area… what's a good name for that? Like a lot of bands that I looked up to. Music stars, such as Exodus, Metallica, Testament, Forbidden, Bay Area idols. Any regrets? I can't regret what was meant to be, but I'll never forget the opportunities. In life, when things aren't supposed to happen… I've suffered a lot from the loss and will never forget not playing in my favorite band ever, but I had to do what was healthy for me and the band at the time. I was even asked to rejoin, if I had certain parts very solid on the double bass aspect of it all, but I still felt I couldn't give the band what they needed. I'm still honored to this day that Robb Flynn and I still correspond.
Craig: What songs did you help contribute to off 'Burn my Eyes'?
Tony: A Thousand Lies, The Rage to Overcome, Death Church, A Nation on Fire, Blood for Blood, I'm Your God Now, and Block, originally titled "Fuck it All."
Craig: You played with Crisis for 3 years, and contributed to a song that was the theme for the movie Strangeland. Tell me what that experience was like writing a song for a movie?
Tony: It was an incredible experience, especially being able to play the movie premiere in New York City with Dee Snider actually introducing us as a band. It also felt great to go into a movie theatre in NYC and hear it being played over the actually movie being played. It was an honor, and Dee Snider treated us with the utmost respect; he's a great guy.
Craig: You recorded 'Sonic Excess in its Purest Form' with Crowbar. How different was drumming in a band like that compared to Machine Head/Crisis? Was it easy to adjust to slower tempos? Did it intimidate you at all?
Tony: Crisis has a lot of slower tempos and time changes as well, just like Crowbar, which kinda primed me up to deal with the tempos of Crowbar. I try to attack all intimidation from all levels of myself and conquer it. It wasn't that much of difference between Crisis and Crowbar, except for that Crowbar you play a lot more behind the beat, but then you still might remain going into the one on time. A lot of drummers have problems playing that kind of style, and it either comes naturally or it doesn't. To answer it all, no, I didn't have a hard time.
Craig: Tell me what it was like to play with the band 'Eyes of Fire' when they were then called Shiva. Was their sound similar to what was displayed in later albums by the band?
Tony: Yes, most of it was the same songs that I had played with the band. I loved playing with them, because they were very close friends of mine. But the lack of timeliness fashion of dealing with business mislead me. They were too relaxed about business options, so it made me not want to continue. When there's options involved, I like to attack them with every aspect and get the most from the band that I'm in.
Craig: How did you get to work with Debris Inc? What exactly did you do with them?
Tony: Ron Holzner from the band Trouble, is a huge fan of both Crisis and the NOLA scene and wanted me to play on the record. I was honored, because I was always into the band Trouble and the band St. Vitus, which David Handler plays guitar on. So, through mutual friends, Ron contacted me to play on the record, and I contributed to the writing of one song and the recording of probably about 8 out of 12 songs on the record, one including a cover of punk band Fear's "I Love Living in the City." I had one day to learn all the tracks, fly to Chicago and go into the studio to record, because I just got out of jail after the European Crowbar tour for having warrant's out for my arrest.
Craig: You were working with the rock band DropBox right before they hit big. Can you tell us the reasons for your firing from the band? Why didn't it work out and why aren't you reaping the benefits of their success?
Tony: First off, just so that everyone knows, it's the first band I was ever fired from. The reason is because Sully from Godsmack was producing us and influencing the naive members of the band, which were cockstruck by him. The reason for the firing was that Sully convinced the band that they'd save money if he played my drum parts on the record. Since they were so awestruck with having some rockstar involved, they believed to have him do that and betray me. Even though I recorded 14 songs we wrote on Pro-Tools in a garage and played drums on the three tracks that got the band signed, they still chose to stab me in the back. Karma gets people, and that's basically why you don't hear of them any more. They're dropped from Universal. As far as benefits, there are no benefits to reap from them and their shit. Sully is a snake in the grass fucking piece of shit that can't sing for nothing. Even while trying to produce us, he was admitting his lack of talent. See ya later DropBox Bitches.
Craig: You've worked with many bands of different styles, are you the type that can be fulfilled just playing with one band? Or do you purposely go from band to band, each band sounding different than the other, to help fulfill your musical needs?
Tony: No, my musical needs are always fulfilled with whatever band I'm in. I purposely don't go from band to band seeking anything more than what I feel is needed for my life. If I'm in a band and getting unhappy with a lot of certain conditions, even though I can handle it, doesn't mean I'll tolerate it. I will just move on.
Craig: Tell us what you are up to today, what projects you have going on, where the kids can keep up with you.
Tony: I'm recently going to school, the ex-president of Century Media Records started a new record label in Las Vegas, Nevada, and wants my first band Papsmear to be his first release. The band was legendary for their time. It was original 1985 thrash metal. It's finally getting what it deserved. We're coming out with a CD and also a full-length DVD within the next few months, but I always keep myself open with my other projects that I'm involved in. Basically, my new band out of Las Vegas is called Pain Compliance, and I also have a side project called Bastard. Please hit up the Papsmear Myspace page: www.myspace.com/papsmear1 and support our music. Also, if you ever want to chitchat or be a regular person to me, and keep in touch, feel free to hit me up at www.myspace.com/tonycostanza