D’Antonio is most known as part of Marin County’s Americana band, San Geronimo. His first solo record is a refreshing breath of fresh air in a time of fires, lockdown, pandemic hell, economic collapse, and political upheaval, yet has nothing to do with any of that. It’s a journey unto itself that helps one forget the woes of the world for a while. For D’Antonio, Spinnin’ Wheels is a detour from San Geronimo’s sound in many ways, taking a healthy dose of Country and mixing it in with D’Antonio’s hard-hitting songwriting.
“I never intended to write a country song or have a ‘country vibe’. I actually mostly listen to old soul music,” states D’Antonio. “Only recently have I dug into some of the ’60s and 70’s country classics, mostly because people assume I know all that music and request me to play it live. I think any music that is honest is good; you can immediately hear the difference. I grew up in New Mexico and Colorado, and I guess there is something about that landscape or the blue-collar lifestyle that comes out in what I do.”
“Lyrics stem from feelings more than physical experiences. A feeling can make you experience a thousand different emotions without ever physically doing anything. I think this allows me to write about scenarios that have happened in my head but not in the physical realm,” D’Antonio states on his songwriting. “I know a lot of people write a story and put down the words first, but I usually start with a feeling. I get so deep that it is hard to be around others, and I am able to dive down pretty far and extract what is most honest about whatever “funk” I am in. From this usually comes a melody and the words follow.”
“Vinyl is a different listening experience. It is tactile, from opening the sleeve and looking at the liner notes, to dropping the needle on the first song. The experience is totally different than signing on to Spotify or Apple Music. I was able to press the records to clear “Coke Bottle Blue” vinyl, and it’s absolutely beautiful. There is a feeling you get when the first note drops, and the record is spinning that you could never get from an mp3 or from a CD for that matter”, states D’Antonio. “The last song “Crawlin’ Out of my Skin” was recorded in my living room on a 388 Tascam ¼” 8 track tape machine. I love how timeless the simple way of 8 track recording sounds. The limitations are golden.”
D’Antonio, an incredible singer and guitarist in his own right, crafted the album using a “who’s who” of country musicians, including drummer Jim Christie (Buck Owens), bassist Lindsey Brown, steel guitarist Jay Dee Maness (Buck Owens), and Eugene Moles (Merle Haggard), as well as local Bay Area players that include drummer Rob Hooper (Carolyn Wonderland), steel guitarist Barry Sless (Dave Nelson Band, Green Leaf Rustlers), bassist Joe Kyle Jr. (Howell Devine), keys players Phil Ferlino (New Monsoon) and backing singers Jessica DeNicola, Jen Korte and San Geronimo cohort, Darren Nelson.
The five-song album opens with “Sad and Blue”, a truly “old school country” kind of song, with stellar steel slide, tinkling keys, and D’Antonio bringing in the twang with his vocals like his Country forefathers. John Prine’s “Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness” was an appropriate choice for a cover, as it fits in with the aesthetic of the album beautifully. The title track “Spinnin’ Wheels” speaks of the feelings of loneliness one can have within a relationship while keeping love alive. “Heaven Knows” is all heartbreak and wishing for something better “The sun goes down, and I get high, and nothing seems to change”. The album ends with “Crawlin’ Out Of My Skin”, a slow groove of a song that lets you feel the deep longing for a lost love.
“Playing solo is harder than doing the San Geronimo thing. San Geronimo was such an easy gig; I’d strap my guitar on, set up my mic, and the rest was autopilot. However, it is definitely easier to steer the ship solo,” states D’Antonio. “The dynamic in a band setting is much more democratic and can be hard to get things done. It is also easy to point the finger in a band setting if things aren’t going the way you’d like them to. When you are solo, you only have you to blame.”
It’s doubtful that D’Antonio will ever run out of songs or lyrical ideas. “I don’t really feel I have a choice in the matter,” he states. “It is my path. Good or bad. It is what it is” In my opinion, he is a songwriting machine. His songs are magic and filled with emotional rivers that run right through your mind. They make you have an authentic sonic experience that hits the heart in all the right ways.
Plus check out the gorgeous video for "Spinnin' Wheels"