Before Tampa Warped Tour appearance, LIMBS’ Chris Costanza talks religion, single parenthood and more

The band's new album, 'Father's Son,' is out now.

click to enlarge LIMBS, which plays Vans Warped Tour at MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa, Florida on August 4, 2018. - ELIO MARINI
Elio Marini
LIMBS, which plays Vans Warped Tour at MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa, Florida on August 4, 2018.

Chris Costanza’s most significant Warped Tour moment happened at the age of 18 when he saw Buffalo metalcore outfit Every Time I Die play for the first time.

“It absolutely blew me away,” the frontman for Bay area hardcore outfit LIMBS told CL. “I’m hoping we’ll make some sort of an impact on someone who hasn’t seen us before at this year’s Warped. I think that’s what I usually hope for, whenever we play.”

INTERVIEW
LIMBS’ Chris Costanza and Jordan Hunter talk national tour, staying true to fans and hometown love (2017)

Costanza’s band will get the chance on Saturday when it plays the last Warped Tour ever (yes, Every Time I Die is also on the bill) in support of its debut full-length, Father’s Son, which tackles a lot of the internal struggle and self-loathing Costanza experienced as he pondered the role that Catholicism played in his life. His parents — who never really pushed the faith on him — probably haven’t read Costanza’s lyrics, but some of his old friends from the very groups he criticizes on Father’s Son have given positive feedback to the deeply personal recording.

“I tend to look at me moving past that point in my life less like a split and more like necessary personal growth for me,” Costanza explained. “That doesn’t mean what they believe or where they’re at is wrong. I personally just didn’t feel it was the right path for me.”

His music’s path eventually led to LIMBS working with two producers on Father’s Son, — Underoath’s Tim McTague, who handled pre-production, and Saosin’s Beau Burchell, who handled recording.

“For me, Tim was an idea bouncer. I’d send him rough demos and we’d move things around and think of new ideas together,” Costanza said. “Beau was more of a sharpening stone, so to speak. We went to him with mostly fully fleshed-out songs, and he helped add the final touch. All in all, they were both great to work with. I don’t think the album would be what it is without both of their input.”

The result is one of the Bay area’s best local releases of 2018 and one that’s found LIMBS releasing the record via Melbourne, Australia label UNFND, which took LIMBS on as its first U.S.-based band. Costanza is hoping that a few tour dates Down Under are in order, but for now he’s enjoying a break from songwriting, focusing on Warped Tour and preparing for the balancing act that is being a single dad whose band is about to go on a run of tour dates with Seattle hardcore giants Emery.

“We’ve been touring for a little over three years, but I’ve only had full custody of my daughter for about a year,” Costanza said when discussing an already completed spring tour with Underoath. “The first thing I did was call my family, before we confirmed anything. I let them know that this could very well be the first tour of many. They’ve always been so incredibly supportive, and continue to be. What I’m doing wouldn’t be possible without them.” Read our full Q&A below.

Vans Warped Tour. Sat. Aug. 4, Gates at 11 a.m.. $45 & up. Mid Florida Credit Union Amphitheatre, 4802 US Highway 301 N., Tampa. vanswarpedtour.com.

Chris, do you remember your first Warped Tour? If so, what was it like, and what do you think it’s going to be like when LIMBS gets to play in front of a hometown crowd.

My first warped tour seems like forever ago, but I still remember it. I think the craziest memory was seeing Every Time I Die play for the first time. I was probably 18 then, and I hadn’t yet seen a band play with that much energy/intensity. It absolutely blew me away. I’m hoping we’ll make some sort of an impact on someone who hasn’t seen us before at this year’s Warped. I think that’s what I usually hope for, whenever we play.

You’re also going on a run with Emery. How is your family adjusting to this new approach to music that you’re currently living out?

Our upcoming run with Emery was a cool opportunity that came our way about a month ago. While this short tour wasn’t booked around us, touring is definitely interesting being a single dad. We’ve been touring for a little over 3 years now, but I’ve only had full custody of my daughter for about a year. Earlier this year (2018) we got the Underoath tour offer. The first thing I did was call my family, before we confirmed anything. I told them about the tour, but I also had a very real conversation about the future. I let them know that this could very well be the first tour of many. They’ve always been so incredibly supportive, and continue to be. What I’m doing wouldn’t be possible without them.

Have you figured out exactly how many pairs of socks it takes to get through a tour?

I stick to the two week rule for both socks and underwear. I never want to have to worry about doing laundry more often than every two weeks, especially on the road. So to answer your question, 28 socks (or 14 pairs).

Your parents took a casual approach to Catholicism and never forced it on you, but have they listened to Father’s Son? If so, what’s the feedback been like from them and/or old/current friends from the community whose set of beliefs you’re kind of addressing on the album? It seems like you were able to kind of split from that group that was chastising your for something as relatively innocent as premarital sex.

To be honest, I don’t think my parents have really read my lyrics. But, my relationship with them is a lot different than what it once was. I’m open with them about my life choices and my beliefs. They’re very respectful of my decisions, and probably just happy to see me happy. As far as groups that I’ve split from; I can’t say for sure. I’m by no means on bad terms with them, and I’ve gotten some positive feedback on the album from a few old friends as well. I tend to look at me moving past that point in my life less like a split and more like necessary personal growth for me. That doesn’t mean what they believe or where they’re at is wrong. I personally just didn’t feel it was the right path for me.

You’ve mentioned that you’re listening to music that’s different from what may have been on when LIMBS was writing Sleep. Some Radiohead is in there, but what are some of the other new sounds you’re enjoying? Do they influence the sound on Father’s Son at all?

What I listen to now compared to when the band started is vastly different. I feel like I’m almost playing a game of catch up, trying to grow this music project into something that reflects my present tastes more accurately. It sometimes feels constricting, having started as a very heavy band and almost growing out of that music style. But recently, I’ve come to appreciate how the stylistic restrictions that were laid down years ago can be huge creative aides when it comes to writing. It would be easy to write something I’d presently enjoy listening to. But how do I make something I enjoy listening to within the confines of LIMBS? I think the melding of what has been established in past releases and what my current tastes are can be much more interesting than what I’d do if I were given a clean slate.

As to what I’ve been listening to lately; I’ll try to keep it brief. I’ve been into a lot of newer hip-hop lately; J. Cole, Kevin Abstract, and Tyler the Creator. As far as other music, a few of my favorites this past year are Shame, Jim James, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Damien Jurado, and Jons.

Does this mean you don’t mope around to Say Anything anymore?

Hahaha. I definitely don’t mourn the loss of girlfriends to Say Anything nearly as often as I did when I was a teenager.

This album started out more conceptual than it came out, and moved in a religious/political direction as it went on and some of your experiences from growing up started to enter your mind. Do you remember the moment when you realized LIMBS wasn’t going to end up making the album it initially set out to? You became a dad about five years ago, so it couldn’t have been that, right? What does that shift in direction feel like as a creative person and did it make you worried about the feathers you were going to ruffle?

I don’t think there was a specific moment it happened. It was more of a gradual evolution towards what it became in the end. As much as being a father has affected me personally, I don’t think it affected this particular album very much. I used to be fearful of creative shifts. I very much grew up looking for security in music. Something familiar and something I could rely on. The older I get, the more appealing stepping outside of that box is. As far as ruffling feathers, I think I definitely worried a bit. We have members of the band who have different beliefs than my own and I wanted to make sure they felt comfortable with what they’d be playing. We’ve since talked about it, and everything is good. I think all of us in the band have a great deal of respect for one another’s personal beliefs.


Do you ever worry about what your daughter might think when she’s older and hears a song like “Black Thumb”?

Honestly, I don’t. I’ve done my best to be open with my daughter and raise her where everything is out in the open. I’m sure we’ll have tough conversations, and I’m sure she’ll ask questions at some point, but my goal is to create an environment safe enough for her to ask those questions.

Father’s Son is still conceptual though, and I’m sure there was stuff you had to leave off for the sake of how you wanted the record to be paced. What happens to that discarded material since it’s from a time/headspace that you may not be in anymore (you had mentioned being more compassionate, less angry these days)?

Lyrics usually tend to come last when writing a song, so most of the unused songs are just instrumentals. That being said, there are still plenty of songs that will probably never be released. I think editing yourself as an artist is almost as important as the art itself.

In many ways, Father’s Son is an exorcism of someone who was inside of you. Have you started writing new material yet? If so, what’s the tone of it since there was so much self-hatred, etc. on parts of the old material?

I’ve actually been on a bit of a writing hiatus since we finished recording Father’s Son, mostly due to technical problems. But I’m kind of thankful for that, as I’ve had a ton of time to reflect on the last album and start to form some plan on where I’d like to go next with the band. Moving forward, there will probably be a lot less self loathing, etc., mainly because that’s not me anymore. I think new music will be much more of an observation of issues I deal with or specific situations I’ve experienced. With the falling away of so much internal angst, I think the music will also change stylistically. We’ll see.

How is working with Beau different from the process with Tim?

Very different. They’re two very different people. Tim is more of an off the cuff guy. For me, Tim was an idea bouncer. I’d send him rough demos and we’d move things around and think of new ideas together. Beau was more of a sharpening stone, so to speak. We went to him with (mostly) fully fleshed out songs, and he helped add the final touch. There were a few songs we did go more in depth on with Beau, though. All in all, they were both great to work with. I don’t think the album would be what it is without both of their input.

Are there Australia dates in your future now that you’re an UNFD band?

None planned at the moment, but we’re sure hoping we’ll have some soon.

See even more of the Tampa Bay live music lineup by visiting cltampa.com/musicweek every Thursday morning.

About The Author

Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
Scroll to read more Local Music articles
Join the Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.

Newsletters

Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected]