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In recent years, the beautiful Campania region in Italy, and mostly the city of Naples, have sadly made the news for the shameful waste management issue.
And yet that same land has given birth to one of the most creative Italian music bands of the 21st century, Capone & BungtBangt, who play instruments made of recycled materials and everyday tools. From an old broom that becomes an electric guitar, to a simple trowel and a tile, unexpected objects are turned into something completely different and capable of creating a captivating new sound.
Who are Capone & BungtBangt? And what is exactly “eco-music” or “junk music”? We asked the founder and lead vocalist, Maurizio Capone.
Since I was a child, I’ve been creating my own instruments with unconventional and recycled materials. I’ve discovered that many objects that we’re ready to throw away can still surprise us, if we understand the technique to play them.
In 1999, producer Umberto Massa encouraged me to do a percussion show called Bungt & Bangt. Thanks to my creativity as a percussionist, singer, songwriter, and recycled instruments maker, it soon became a band. The other members are Alessandro Paradiso (bass), Enzo Falco (keyboard), and Salvatore Zannella (drums).
Our music is modern and traditional at the same time, with a strong Neapolitan identity and ties to southern and tribal rhythms, combined with hip-hop, funk, techno, and reggae. Over the last 15 years, Capone & BungtBangt have been made a name for themselves as representatives of this peculiar genre. We’ve been invited to perform on many occasions, including the Sanremo Festival.
Do you think Italy and Campania region are finally out of the waste emergency?
Management and disposal is a global problem, which all countries are dealing with but won’t be solved if we don’t reduce the production of toxic waste. In Campania, corruption and illegal business practices have destroyed the national environment and, even if most citizens respect the rules and recycle, the waste issue remains a weapon in the hands of organized crime.
Capone & BungtBangt also organize educational workshops in schools, prisons, and rehab centers. Do you believe in the power of music to communicate with the young generations and to disseminate positive values?
Our activities and initiatives are based on the respect for the environment and legality. We are often invited to teach workshops on how to make recycled instruments in schools located in the slums, where dropout rates are higher. In particular, I’ve created a permanent lab in the neighborhood 219 in Pomigliano d’Arco, which has involved over 500 kids since 2001. Our music has helped many of them embark on a different, better path than what they were destined for. The focus is on self-discipline and self-confidence: a strong will is essential to become a musician, as well as to succeed in life.
How easy it was to be appreciated for your original music in Italy and abroad?
It wasn’t, because Italy is mainly open to innovations coming from outside the Country. Our music is international, and we’ve performed from Cuba to Brazil, from Tokyo to Il Cairo. The U.S. represents for us the next frontier, as we feel very close to the American folk music.
Are you guys working on a new album?
Our first live album “Spazza Music Live” was released in October, and we’re now working on the new record “Mozzarella Nigga” to come out in Fall. The title is inspired by one of the nicknames that Americans used to call Italian immigrants, and it was chosen for two different reasons. On the one hand, our music is a combination of Neapolitan and African rhythms; on the other hand, we want to remind our fellow Italians that we weren’t so different from today’s immigrants, who seek refuge in our Country and deserve our respect.
With this new album, we would like to give our unique contribution to make the contemporary Italian (and particularly Neapolitan) music tradition known worldwide. If we aim high but with humility, we could change the way people think and play music.
And, perhaps, through the important message of sustainability, ecology, and social responsibility conveyed by their music, Capone & BungtBangt could eventually change also the way we treat our planet and help create a better world for future generations.