MACHINE HEAD frontman Robb Flynn has paid tribute to the band's original drummer, Tony Costanza, who died on Tuesday (August 4). He was 52 years old.
Costanza was the singer of the Las Vegas metal band PAPSMEAR before relocating to the San Francisco Bay Area and joining MACHINE HEAD in 1992. He sat behind the kit for MACHINE HEAD's first three shows — a punk rock house party on Woolsey Street in Oakland on August 15, 1992; at The Huntridge Theater in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 29, 1992; and at Los Angeles Metalfest at Gazarri's in Hollywood, California on October 4, 1992. He left MACHINE HEAD in October 1992 and was replaced by Chris Kontos, who made his live debut with the group the following month.
Flynn said that "a big chunk" of the band's classic debut album, "Burn My Eyes", was written with Costanza, who stepped in because Kontos — Robb's first choice and then still a member of ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT and GRINCH — didn't have time to devote to MACHINE HEAD.
Writing in the latest installment of his online blog, "The General Journals: Diary Of A Frontman... And Other Ramblings", Flynn said: "So sad to hear about Tony Costanza passing away today.
"The first 6 month of MACHINE HEAD's existence happened because he joined.
"I began talking to Tony around March 1992 for the first time. I can't exactly remember how we got in touch, he was from Las Vegas and this was before the Internet, before cell phones, it's possible that a guy who used to work for VIO-LENCE name Joey Copobianco put me in touch with him.
"We started talking on the phone about MACHINE HEAD, and eventually he relocated to the Bay Area. It seemed in a lot of ways, he was ready to start a new life, he has been the singer for the early-Grindcore band PAPSMEAR and I had actually met him the year prior with Mitch from NAPALM DEATH when Mitch, Shane and him came up to a show in the Bay Area
"It's a little foggy, but I want to say he might've moved in with me for the first few weeks he was up here. One hilarious memory I have, is of him staying the night at Genevra's [Robb's now-wife] apartment, we all got super drunk on purple Kool-Aid and fucking MOONSHINE, and apparently he had eaten some kind of Chinese squid-based dish earlier that night, later on, hammered out of his mind, threw up purple squid all over her carpet. Genevra was pissed for a minute, but we couldn't help laugh hysterically about it later on, it was just so funny to see all these little purple squids all over the floor.
"I had already fleshed out a couple of the early MH songs on the drums with my friend Gary, and then later on a whirlwind 2 day jam with Chris Kontos, but that was the only time that we had heard the songs played as a band.
"So to have Tony there, regularly jamming 'Death Church', 'Blood For Blood' and 'Fuck It All' at the Emeryville warehouse in a room we shared with 6 other punk rock bands was pretty thrilling… Some of the songs that he worked out with us from-the-start would've been 'A Thousand Lies', 'I'm Your God Now', 'Nation on Fire' and 'Rage to Overcome', and even part of a 'Davidian' riff.
"Tony was a character, funny, kind of a fabulous disaster, but a good guy with a great heart. He didn't click with one of the band guys though, so there was always like a weird tension when he was around. But we played our first few shows with him at Mike Scum's Woolsey house in Oakland, which ended up being MACHINE HEAD's first kegger party/show. We also played our first official club show with him at the Huntridge Theater in Las Vegas, filmed our very first video for the song 'Fuck It All', recorded part of a rehearsal tape/demo with Eric Wong at LAUGHING DEAD's studio, and we also played the LA metal fest at Gazarri's in Hollywood which was notable for the fact that we played twice, to 20 people each time, but the 2nd time, Dino from FEAR FACTORY was there, Igor from SEPULTURA, the BIOHAZARD dudes were all there, and Rick Hunolt from EXODUS (all in town for a Foundations Forum), along with our friends Andy and Gary.
"Chris Kontos was originally my first choice to be in MACHINE HEAD, but at the time he was pretty busy with multiple bands (ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT, GRINCH, and VERBAL ABUSE) and it looked like one of them (VA) had a real shot at getting signed. So Chris went away for a while, and in that time we got Tony. After a minute, Chris came back into the picture and volunteered to be Tony's drum tech, (though truth be told, Chris had his eye on getting IN MACHINE HEAD more than actually helping Tony out), and basically confessed as much to Rick / EXODUS while he was doing our lights at the metal fest. Later that night when Chris told us he was up to join MH at our friends Gary's house, it was kind of a no-brainer. Tony saw the writing on the wall, and quit soon after.
"It was only a short 6 months that he was with us, but in many ways he helped form so many of the songs on 'Burn My Eyes' into what they would become. I was always grateful for everything that he did.
"Tony was also a member of CROWBAR during the early 2000s, and appeared on the band's 2001 album 'Sonic Excess In Its Purest Form'. He played with the band CRISIS and I'd like to thank Azfaal for letting me know about Tony [passing away]. To see him still rockin' a MACHINE HEAD shirt in that photo meant a lot.
"We maintained a friendship throughout the 27 years since he was in the band. We talked a couple times a year, he definitely had more than a few health problems, and he did enjoy his partying… He was a stubborn son of a bitch. He would tell me later on that 'he regretted the decision, but that it was always an honor to play in his 'favorite band ever'.'
"It chokes me up to write those words…
"Afzaal has set up a GoFundMe to help with his funeral expenses… If anybody would like to donate both Tony's family and I would appreciate it.
"Rest In Peace Costanza"