Marc Antonio

Marc Antonio is Velvet Chain's keyboard player and resident music guru. It was through the acting world that Marc was first introduced to Velvet Chain. He went to see a friend in a modern production of Macbeth, and that night, ended up meeting Erika Amato, who was also in the cast.

As fate would have it, Velvet Chain was looking for a new keyboard player, so Erika's ears perked up when she overheard Marc talking about how he missed playing in a band. He said that he just needed to find the right band, and was having some difficulty finding itÍ Erika, who was already on the prowl for a new keyboardist started asking questions... what kind of music was he into, etc. Marc said he liked what he called "art rock"-- bands like, Pink Floyd, Radiohead & Portishead. The rest is history.


Marc Antonio was born in Washington D.C. Like most kids, his first exposure to music was in grade school. He really took to it and much to his parents chagrin practiced night and day.

When Marc was eight, his mother passed away, and music became less like a hobby and more like an escape. Marc became that introverted little boy who spent hours alone in his room, rather than going outside to play. He was playing music, and preferred it that way.

One day at a summer recreation session, Marc was sitting on the steps playing the recorder while the other kids were playing dodge ball. One of the kids came over, snatched the recorder from Marc's hands and smashed it on the steps crying out "That thing's stupid!!". Needless to say, Marc was inconsolable. The counselors spent all day searching for a store that carried recorders.

When Marc reached fourth grade, he moved up to the clarinet. He also made his acting debut in the school production of the "Golden Goose" where he played a musician (a strong bit of foreshadowing). It was not long after this that Marc fell in love with the piano. He had joined the school chorus and was fascinated by the complexity of the piano accompaniment.

Marc had grown up on instruments that could only play one note at a time so the piano was really a big deal. He asked his step mom and father repeatedly for a piano and piano lessons. They assumed that it was a phase and said no. Besides they had just shelled out a lot of money for a clarinet that they figured would be gathering dust any second.

Determined, Marc kept trying to find a way. One time, Marc was attending a cub scout event over at a friend's house and there was a piano there. Several parents and a few kids were taking turns playing it. When he had his chance Marc went up and tried his best to reproduce some of what he had heard. Seeing his determination, one of the parents asked if he was taking piano lessons. Marc said no, but that he could read music. He asked what notes were what on the piano. Smiling, she pointed out middle-C and explained the black keys and their relation to the rest of the keyboard. Marc said "Oh," and immediately started playing some of the songs he knew on clarinet. That day the doors were flung open, and Marc was a piano player.

By the time Marc reached high school a lot had happened. A custody change had moved Marc out of Metro D.C. and into southern Georgia (a massive culture shock). A year after the move, his grandmother (and new guardian) passed away and Marc found himself living on his own at the age of 15. He had the social security check (from his birth mother's passing), sent to his best friends parents. They cashed it, gave it to Marc and he paid his rent and bills with it. He also worked at a local pizza place. This in no way changed his love of the arts. He had since become highly proficient at piano and had learned to play the saxophone, among other instruments. He was involved in the school marching band, music program, and various other musical activities.

Marc also played percussion, mostly timpani and snare. He also found himself continually cast in school plays and ultimately joined the Thespian Society in high school. As much as music helped Marc to get through the turbulent times of his life, it was acting that pulled him out of his shell. This, in turn, helped Marc to find his third love, martial arts. Marc was also a member of the school chorus and used the choral room after school to play the piano.

By high school, Marc had learned several advanced pieces of music. As you can imagine, there are not many young, male piano players in rural Georgia, so when the high school was looking for someone to represent them in regional competition, Marc was not too hard to miss. "Hey, what about that kid playing piano in the choral room every day..."

They recruited Marc to represent the school, and every year one of the faculty members coached him on the chosen piece. For the record, he always seemed to place 3rd, with the exception of his senior year when he placed 2nd, lost to some well-off kid who had been taking lessons since birth.

Senior year, Marc was sent to a music camp at the University of Georgia. This camp really changed Marc's life. All day long there was nothing but music. Marc was in heaven. He had always dreamed of going to a school of the arts and this was as close as he had ever been to it. The camp began with each student playing for a panel of teachers. Marc remembers being very nervous, but determined to do a good job. He played the 'Minute Waltz' by Chopin, and Sonata K545 by Mozart.

He remembers one teacher, Ivan Frasier, listening very intently to his performance. He kept staring at Marc's fingers curiously, and then would turn away and listen. Marc finished his final piece and looked up to see his response. The teacher smiled and said, "You've never had a piano lesson in your life, have you?" Not knowing quite how to take that, Marc told him that he was mostly self-taught. The teacher smiled again and explained that he thought Marc had done quite well with his two pieces. He was amazed that Marc could have come so far without formal training. He also explained that Marc's piano fingerings were intuitive and therefore grossly inefficient. He told Marc that he was making both of his pieces way more difficult than they had to be and that if he took the time to straighten out his fingerings he could learn to play some of the most difficult pieces in the repertoire. He told Marc that if he moved to Athens, he would give him free piano lessons and teach him what he needed to know to pass the audition for the school of music.

This was the break Marc needed to take him to next level. Fast forward a few years, and Marc is a double major in music and drama at the University of Georgia.

On the acting side, Marc was cast in numerous plays and student films in college. He was also a national MTV Public Service Announcement called 'Project Unity' that is still running on some channels. In high school, Marc had been a founding member of a garage band called "Overdrive," where he learned to play pretty much every keyboard rock song ever.. Journey, Whitesnake, Van Halen, Deep Purple and Heart are just a few examples. He also learned rhythm guitar for those songs that didn't have keyboards in them. Needless to say, there is a lot of blackmail material in the form of video and audio tapes floating around out there.

Mark worked on classical music in school and performed with his rock band at night. It was the best of both worlds. Marc was also progressing very quickly in his third love, martial arts. During his senior year of high school he won a series of tournaments that qualified him to compete in the Junior Olympics. In college he had qualified to compete in the World Games 7, an international martial arts tournament featuring fighters from 23 countries. Marc came in as an unranked wildcard and fought his way to 5th place. It was this achievement that caused Marc to think about his future. He felt that eventually he was going to have to make a choice as to what life he was going to live. How could a person simultaneously pursue a career in music, acting and martial arts? But on the other hand he couldn't be happy unless he was working on everything he loved at the same time.



One of his acting teachers would give him the answer. She explained to him that he was a very talented actor and that was the key. It was the only profession where all his abilities came together. A talented actor was one thing, but a talented actor who could sing, play an assortment of instruments, and who was proficient in martial arts & fencing was invaluable. At her advice, he changed his music major to composition, something he always loved, and began to learn the art of film scoring. He also started to train in stage combat and stunt fighting.

This was the first bit of real focus he had ever had and would ultimately lead him to the biggest move of his life, Los Angeles. Marc Antonio had been living in Los Angeles for two years before joining Velvet Chain. He was making his living just as he had planned -- a mixture of music, acting and combat. He had performed in various theater productions, appeared on television shows, and had performed with the Los Angeles Opera and Opera Pacific (Marc is also an opera singer.) Marc had also composed music for numerous independent films, and had become a respected and well-known fiight coordinator, working both on stage and in film.

In the mean time, there was this serious aching to be in a rock band again. None of his other endeavors could take the place of this. However, it seemed like every band he came into contact with sucked. So when Velvet Chain came along and wanted to audition him, he jumped on it.

Photos by Billy