Most teenagers who go to Webster Hall are there to see their favorite bands play. But Thomas Costa isn’t your average teenager.
When the Syosset resident and Adelphi University sophomore went to Webster Hall last Friday, he was there to play a show as the new bassist for the up-and-coming Long Island rock band Gabriel the Marine.
“It was absolutely incredible,” said Costa, who at 19 has already racked up an impressive resume that includes winning a local Battle of the Bands and a concert tour up and down the east coast.
Costa first started playing music in third grade when his mother bought him an acoustic guitar and he taught himself to play his favorite songs.
“It was a self-interest that I really took on,” Costa said. “All my friends loved music and I wanted to play be able to play with them. Besides baseball, music is how I met most of my friends.”
His favorite band growing up was Envy on the Coast, another Long Island alternative rock band. He went to as many shows as possible and befriended the band members. His dream was to be just like them.
By fourth grade, he had created the band Alternate Reality with friends from school. A few years later, Costa moved on to a band called Now or Never. They played at local bars like The Image Bar in Uniondale.
“We progressed a lot more than the older bands did,” Costa said. “It felt good to have people supporting us more than the guys that had been around for years.”
His career began to take off in the ninth grade when he started a band called The Mass and The Majesty. As the band gained support, they were given better time slots with more playing time at bars and music venues around Nassau County. After lineup changes and renaming the band Blue Wolf, Costa won battle of the bands in his junior year.
Despite the early taste of success, Costa knew just playing guitar might not be enough for him to make it big – after all, many kids grow up wanting to be a lead guitar player. So, he taught himself to play bass, keyboard and drums.
“I’ve always had such an interest in every instrument and I never wanted to limit myself,” Costa explained. “I kind of became a utility guy.”
Next up for Costa was a stint as the bassist for Alexa Carter. He took off the Spring 2010 semester from Adelphi to tour with the up-and-coming pop singer/songwriter from Wiggins, Miss.
“We met through our vocal coach, Melissa Cross,” Costa said. “Alexa needed a band to play with her so Melissa paired us together.”
Together they traveled to Tennessee, New Jersey, Texas, and Mississippi.
“I learned the business side of music,” Costa said. “I really learned the foundations of what makes a band sound good live.”
When the tour ended, Costa returned to Syosset to continue his studies in the fall. That summer, Costa heard some unfortunate news. His favorite band, Envy on the Coast, broke up. He bought tickets to see them one last time.
“It sucked,” Costa said of the break-up. “They were the biggest influence on me, musically.”
Little did he know at the time, the end of one good thing was just the beginning of something great.
His friend Dominick D'Agostino’s band, Gabriel the Marine, was Envy’s final opening act. A few months later, D’Agostino asked Costa to be the new bassist for Gabriel.
Costa accepted and began practicing with the band. After a few weeks of learning
the bass parts and harmonies, he was ready to play live. On Feb. 19, Costa played his first gig with Gabriel.
Less than a week later, Costa headlined a show at Webster Hall with Gabriel the Marine. His bass beats put butterflies in everyone’s stomach, but not as big as his own.
“It was my first big venue show with them, so I was overly anxious,” Costa said. “After I settled down, it felt great to be on stage with an old friend, and the crowd was definitely into it.”
For now, Costa is a part-time musician and full-time student at Adelphi with an undeclared major. That may change soon though as Gabriel the Marine continues to plan a fall tour in hopes of catching their big break.
“We also might do a full summer tour with some pretty well-known bands,” Costa said. “I can’t go into detail because nothing is confirmed yet, but it’s the opportunity of a life time. Keep your eyes open!”