Instagram Soundcloud Spotify

Viva la Resistenza: Station To Station With Dirty Trainload, Italy’s Unstoppable Blues-Punk Locomotive

Written by:

I am a partisan, I am alive, I feel the pulse of the activity of the future city that those on my side are building is alive in their conscience. And in it, the social chain does not rest on a few; nothing of what happens in it is a matter of luck, nor the product of fate, but the intelligent work of the citizens. Nobody in it is looking from the window of the sacrifice and the drain of a few. Alive, I am a partisan. That is why I hate the ones that don’t take sides, I hate the indifferent.

― Antonio Gramsci

It’s contaminated and dirty. That’s how Dirty Trainload describes its “progressive blues.” The band’s authentic visceral sound, deep in traditional blues while inclined toward the lo-fi sensibility of garage and punk, was forged by sending the Delta Blues “along the voyages of punk innovators like Alan Vega and The Gun Club.

Dirty Trainload is the vision of guitarist Bob Cillo, who hails from Bari in the south of Italy, in the heel of the boot. In the fall of 2007 Dirty Trainload released its debut, Rising Rust (available from Bandcamp, as are all of Dirty Trainload’s albums), with Cillo working in a duo with harp player and vocalist Marco Del Noce; Fabio Magistrali produced the album, with cover art and design by Swiss illustrator Benjamin Guedel – both would reprise their roles on the next two Dirty Trainload projects. Rising Rust was the first “alternative blues” record recorded and produced in Italy.

From 2009 through 2011 Cillo was joined by Italo-American poly-instrumentalist and singer Livia Monteleone, who plays banjo, baritone guitar and percussion. Cillo and Monteleone co-wrote Dirty Trainload’s second album, Trashtown (also on Spotify), which was issued by Otium-CNI in 2011.

In the fall of 2011 Cillo assumed vocal duties for Dirty Trainload on “The Fatty Arbuckle Scandal” for a compilation, 50 Lepers, from free Internet record label Lepers Productions, which also featured songs from Black River Bluesman and Mike Watt, among others. Cillo also recorded two covers, “Commit a Crime” and “Special Rider Blues,” for which the band also made videos. For the band’s third album, A Place for Loitering (2014) Dirty Trainload was once again a duo of Cillo and drummer and percussionist Balzano. A Place for Loitering was issued on 12” vinyl, a first for the band.

In fall 2016 Monteleone returned to the fold, joining Cillo and Balzano in California to record a new song, “Freight Train,” and to film an accompanying video. The trio also recorded another song, “Too Far Gone,” for a Free Radio Santa Cruz compilation, Question Authority, a collection of songs which, taken together, is a thundering statement of political dissent.

In 2018 the trio recorded the band’s fourth album, Revolution and Crime, a concept album on which, over the course of 13 blistering songs, the band hammers out a scathing critique of the current state of social justice. The album was produced by Filippo Strang at VDSS Studio, with a cover by illustrator Claudio Losghi Ranieri. For the first time, Cillo and Monteleone share vocal duties on several songs.

Throughout its varied line-ups, Dirty Trainload has been devoted to playing live, and the band has undertaken cross-country Italian tours and performances in European cities, including Berlin, Brighton, Budapest, Copenhagen, Helsinki, London, Paris and Zurich (while touring England the band recorded two sessions for an American radio podcast, Breakthru Radio). Dirty Trainload has also toured the USA, with performances in California, Chicago and at the third edition of the Deep Blues Festival in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

If you hate indifference, Revolution and Crime should be your soundtrack. The album is alive with the fire and fury of The Alarm, Billy Bragg, The Clash, Gang of Youths, The Jam, Bob Marley, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, the first Pretenders album, Springsteen, early U2, X…The album feels live, spontaneous, a hint at what this masterful trio offers on stage. There’s a Sixties and Seventies sensibility here, in that the album is a direct response to our times, its story one of conviction, faith and outrage.

First track “Torture Dogs” opens with a squall of greasy guitar that puts Seventies ZZ Top to shame and wastes no time in drawing a demarcation line – you’re either with Dirty Trainload or against them.

Torture dogs are back

Barking near my bed

Barking in my head

Barking all night long

Fascist dogs are back

Shitting on my path

Pissing on my door

Snarling at my back

“Torture Dogs” is followed by the first of the album’s four covers, Dylan’s “Wanted Man,” a song originally slated for Nashville Skyline but left off the record – Johnny Cash would later play the song at a 1969 performance at San Quentin, and this concert behind bars would become Cash’s second live prison album, Johnny Cash at San Quentin. The song, about a wanted criminal, is recontextualized here as the story of an undocumented worker, torture dogs snarling at his back:

I might be in Colorado or Georgia by the sea

Working for some man who may not know at all who I might be

If you ever see me comin’ and if you know who I am

Don’t you breathe it to nobody ’cause you know I’m on the lam

“Wanted Man” and the other covers on Revolution and Crime are emblematic of the band’s love of American blues, folk and country, and punk – they underline the passion and scholarship that drive its music. Picasso used to spend days and days in the Louvre copying Delacroix, Ingres…At the Prado he became obsessed with Velazquez. if you visit the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, and you’ll find the Master’s Las Meninas Series:

In just five months of intense work, between 17th August and 30th December 1957, Picasso carried out an exhaustive analysis, reinterpretation and recreation of Las Meninas by Velázquez. The Suite of 58 works Picasso donated to the Museu Picasso in 1968 (includes) 44 interpretations inspired on Velázquez’s painting – studies of heads, detached figures, groups of characters and different interpretations of the ensemble…

This is the devotion and passion Dirty Trainload brings to its craft. This is American music performed with the ardor of the converted and the attention to detail of the fetishist (but without any fussiness to impede its performance). This is the sound of musicians who are in love with the music they are making, who are steeped in its history. You internalize your influences and celebrate them, build on them. It’s not duplication – it’s artistry.

Original “Too Far Gone” is built with a powerful shuffle and a buzz saw guitar riff and banjo fill, with Monteleone calling out her anti-war cri de cœur:

Once there was life, schools and houses

and now rubble, names on stones

ghosts of cities, drones and bombs

walls and cages, refugees

Walls and fences won’t stop people

who are running from a war

while young soldiers strap their boots on

have no reason to go fight yet another war

Are we too far gone? Are we too far gone?

Are we blind? Resigned and numb? Again?

Next is “Revolution and Crime,” the title track, a diatribe against ecocide, and here Monteleone’s steam engine voice erupts into a howl and pounces. She is a siren in both senses of the word, equal parts alarm and allure, and her battleship voice docks in your ears and drops its massive anchor.

From North Dakota to Azerbaijan

people stand to defend their land

Poisoned the water/poisoned the air

Dissent will get you/thrown into jail

“Revolution and Crime” is another example of the trio’s firepower and musicianship, one that calls to mind great rock trios like The Police, Rush and ZZ Top, groups capable of a noise as mighty as it is impeccable. A stomping cover of Alabama blueswoman Vera Hall’s “Another Man” follows: Monteleone takes the lead vocal here, creating a caryatid of traditional blues to stand beside the album’s ninth song, final cover and telamon, a joyous, rollicking version of Mose Allison’s “Parchman Farm.” The thick riffs on “Another Man” recall The Doors’ “People Are Strange” and “Love Me Two Times”: like everything else on Revolution and Crime it’s got a huge, infectious beat; like everything else on Revolution and Crime, in the hands of Dirty Trainload it’s a protest song, one replete with ripsnorter harmonica from Cillo:

I didn’t know his name

they killed him just the same

The album continues its coal-fired haul through “End of the Welfare State,” a garage rocker driven by a relentless guitar riff that calls to mind Joe Jackson’s Look Sharp, Billy Duffy of The Cult and the first two Clash albums. Revolution and Crime then stops to take a bittersweet pause, Buffy Sainte-Marie’s 1964 confessional, “Cod’ine,” about her recovery from Codeine addiction. Monteleone growls and howls, her singing punctuated by a soaring Cillo solo flavored with mid-Seventies Led Zeppelin/Lynyrd Skynyrd. “Cod’ine” is followed by “Slanted Houses,” a duet between Cillo and Monteleone which flirts with psychedelia and surf guitar. Track nine is the foot-tapping, head-bopping, air-guitar-and-drums roadhouse bliss of “Parchman Farm,” another name for the infamous Mississippi State Penitentiary, with Cillo singing his best billy goat gruff lead. Historian W. Ralph Eubanks recently wrote of the prison:

As historian David Oshinsky observed, Parchman is the quintessential prison farm, the closest thing to slavery that survived the Civil War. In the post-civil rights era, the meaning of Parchman has shifted, with the prison amplifying Mississippi’s systemic problems of racism, poverty and educational deprivation.

“Dry Throat” starts with some Led Zeppelin crunch, then Monteleone steps to the microphone to deliver her slinkiest vocal on the album. She’s a torch singer here, sexy and flammable, channeling Chrissie Hynde and Grace Slick and supported with another magnificent, stratospheric solo from Cillo. If you haven’t already, it’s at this point when you realize drummer and percussionist Balzano is so great it makes you giggle: the band’s John Henry, he keeps the engine running, and he’ll die with that hammer in his hand. “Improvised Robbery” follows, the story of an amateur holdup. The song is built atop the shuffle stomp of “Another Man” with a rare nod to prog and AOR with a gale of guitar solo through the final minute of the track that manages to reference both Fleetwood Mac and Floyd.

In a way the twelfth track, “Samir’s Letter,” is the heart of Revolution and Crime. A refugee’s tale, Monteleone used “a true letter from a boy fleeing across the Mediterranean for a better life” for the lyrics. The song opens with a decelerated version of the drumbeat that begins U2’s “Trip through Your Wires” and Cillo on slide guitar which, by the end of the song, becomes reminiscent of “When the Levee Breaks.” Monteleone sings the letter to us:

What I have done was for survival

I pray Allah to keep me safe

And if I live I swear to you love

To find some work, so you’ll join me

If you will read my letter, darling

It means that I’m alive and well

It means I’m well and we have a future

I love you dear, I’m forever yours

20 years old Samir from Egypt

Sicilian shores received him dead

His words were sealed in love and plastic

Remained forever on his chest

Is anyone else singing about the plight of illegal immigrants? The song is a thematic descendent of Los Lobos’ “A Matter of Time” and “Will the Wolf Survive?” from How Will the Wolf Survive?, Prefab Sprout’s “The Sound of Crying” and Springsteen’s “The Ghost of Tom Joad” and “Balboa Park” from The Ghost of Tom Joad.

Revolution and Crime pulls into its final station with “Fire Is Gonna Burn You,” the album’s “Her Majesty” or “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” – it clocks in at just a minute, in true punk spirit, a short blast reminiscent of Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” or Springsteen’s “You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch),” a sweet shot of hard rock outro.

No love songs, no ballads, just straight up punk blues coming at you like a stock car at full throttle with its brakes cut. It’s an incendiary album, each song another Molotov cocktail, velocity and ferocity driven by delight and reverence. These revolutionaries, they’ll stop at nothing. This is their blood. Viva la resistenza.

Stereo Embers Magazine (SEM): What’s the story behind the cover of Revolution and Crime?

Bob Cillo (BC): To brush up some Italian History, in the 19th century General Bava-Beccaris quelled, in blood, the widespread riots by starving Italians demanding dignified living conditions. In honor of the general’s brutal victory, King Umberto I bestowed a medal upon Bava-Baccaris “to reward the great service he rendered to civilization”. In 1900, the anarchist Gaetano Bresci killed King Umberto I to avenge the general’s victims. We have a dear friend, Claudio Losghi Ranieri, who is an outstanding artist. I saw his brilliant illustration of the assassination of King Umberto and thought it was a great starting point.

Why Revolution and Crime?

Livia Monteleone (LM): Most of the songs I have written in my life are critiques of what politically powerful people and their organizations do, which is usually a disservice to our race and to our planet. Thankfully, in Bob I have found a great ally, one whose political sensibilities travel on the same tracks as mine! And this train is rolling! On Revolution and Crime many of the problems that beleaguer our planet and cause so much anguish found their voice in our songs: “Revolution and Crime,” for example, is about the abuse of the lands for drilling and fracking and the suffering of the people who live there.

The album’s themes came together naturally and simply. We wrote about how desensitized we are to war and what this does to us as a civilization (“Too Far Gone”), about poverty and how it’s rendered our social fabric threadbare (“Welfare State”)…we are disgusted by the insane politics that do nothing than stuff the pockets of weapons manufacturers, private prisons, pharmaceutical companies…”Fire’s Gonna Burn You” attacks greed and war-mongering, while “Samir’s Letter” is about the thousands of refugees who have perished in the Mediterranean fleeing war, violence, hunger and poverty.

In addition to our own songs, we also enjoyed reinterpreting some beautiful songs, two about prisons, “Wanted Man,” which Bob Dylan wrote for Johnny Cash and Mose Allison’s “Parchman Farm,” and one about addiction, Buffy St. Marie’s “Cod’ine.”

BC: It’s a matter of justice vs. law, as in the riots during Umberto I’s reign.

SEM: What do you like about playing in a trio, as opposed to playing in a larger band? Compared to playing solo?

BC: With Dirty Trainload I’ve experienced several line-ups. Being a one-man band is a very stimulating and rewarding challenge, as you have to address the delivery of a full band but you can’t count on any fellow musicians – you can only count on your own energy, both for stage presence and sound. A solo performer has no filter for ideas or decisions, so you are potentially “purer” and maybe more productive? You can go on stage and live the mood of the moment with extreme flexibility – it’s your set list, and you can develop your show without compromise. Of course, as a solo performer you need much self-discipline for practicing, and it’s often a bit lonely when you’re travelling or waiting for showtime – not to mention when you must load down your backline!

Travelling with band mates can of course be a lot of fun, and performing live can be much easier than playing solo, as it leads to a more dynamic and articulated sound. Sometimes playing in a group can slow the creative process, since you have to consider everybody else’s personal needs or preferences. The duo is a great middle ground: your ideas evolve amid a stimulating and productive confrontation, one that usually leads to better results while still allowing a more agile work environment than a full band. Livia and I have managed to develop a very productive artistic collaboration wherein I think each of us is happy with the other’s contributions. We pretty much co-write our material.

LM: I like to play alone, in duos, trios, with 10 people…I’ve done it all, and I love it all. Playing solo gives you great freedom, fewer problems and more money, of course. But playing alone can also easily devolve into a continuous exercise of “who you are.” I prefer any combination of good musicians, which is for me an honor and a beautiful challenge. Certainly a band is like a part-time marriage of multiple partners, so of course the emotional balance can get tricky when egos, artistic preferences, etc., are involved. I love the balance and expression we have reached with Dirty Trainload. By now we have played together for quite a stretch, and it works so well for us. Bob is a star on the guitar, driving the blues like a soul on fire, while our drummer, Go Balzano, keeps us true and adds his magic. I love to work with Bob’s riffs and build from there with anything I can put my hands on that complements his guitar and the song, mostly the baritone guitar, but also the banjo and now even a theremin, which I introduced on Revolution and Crime. Sometimes I play the baritone guitar with one hand and the theremin with the other! It’s so fun, and I think it’s enriched our sound. Bob is also singing now, so things keep evolving, and the result feels quite powerful to me.

SEM: What differences do you notice about your audiences as you play around Europe?

LM: Interestingly enough, I feel the differences in audiences’ response doesn’t have as much to do with geography as the type of event. We might get a lot of interest and wonderful response at a blues festival, at some community or cultural event, or at some bar, but we often get to play in venues frequented by folks who are enthusiastic about out-of-the-ordinary sounds, the underground of music diversity, and also by folks who share our taste for a raw and dirty blues that ventures towards spontaneous expression. This kind of audience responds to Dirty Trainload like no others. These brothers and sisters feed our music as we play and sing – they’re with us note by note. Lucky for us we find these audiences everywhere, from the deep south of Italy to Finland.

BC: I have some kind of “Buddhist approach” about our live performances, so to say. I don’t really like to make assessments about audiences or music venues. I think the success of a show is almost entirely the artist’s responsibility. Every audience reacts or interacts in a quite different way, and a good musician should be able to relate accordingly. We play in venues that are our natural habitat, like festivals, clubs or squats, but we also happened to play by a merry-go-round on the seafront early in the afternoon: every different experience is a challenge a musician should learn to manage and turn positive. Playing in front of five people or in a packed square should make no difference as to the quality of the performance. That said, of course we aren’t robots, and when you have the feeling of being the right player, in the right band, on the right stage, in the right venue, in front of the right audience, then you really feel at home and something magical can certainly happen.

SEM: Can each of you talk about the song, album, show or moment that made you want to be in a band?

LM: I don’ t think I can pin down my great wish for being part of a band to a song or a specific artist – I was simply playing guitar and singing from a young age, then I got involved in a teenage rock band. Common story, right? I was sold. After that, I chased musical experiences in many forms and shapes. I must say that serving drinks for five years at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, during my youth, gave a tremendous boost to my “band hunger.” I got to meet stars Greg Allman, John Lee Hooker, Santana and one of my female heroes, Etta James! The band Phish came to play quite a few times, and I got to chat more than once with the amazing Trey Anastasio! I lived those concerts and those few minutes of personal encounters with heavyweight musicians as true fairy tales, and I felt a growing sense of belonging to that life, that universe made of music, one I share with people on and off the stage, anywhere and everywhere.

BC: I remember when I was twelve, I was accidentally locked in a room where my older brother had left a tape player with Lou Reed’s Rock ’n’ Roll Animal on it. This might have played a huge role, I think.

Livia’s Tales

SEM asked Livia to give us a Rand McNally sort of tour through her past few decades as a musician and activist. We asked her about the music she loves, Italian and otherwise, busking in Europe, moving to California and how her wayward genius led her to Dirty Trainload.

Italian Music

My love affair with Italian music was a very short one. After a couple of years of curiosity about a few Italian singers with a political or philosophical “feel,” I turned to British and American rock, mostly underground sounds and psychedelic rock. But I can mention a few names from Italian music whose work I truly value, including Paolo Conte and a great band, Area. Paolo Conti has the heart and mind of Tom Waits, but he’s an older gentleman, very classy, from an earlier era, with a strong penchant for jazz – he writes beautiful lyrics, plays a great piano, and his arrangements are original arrangements. Area was the beginning of Italian prog rock, in the ‘70s – they were a brilliant experimental group. This was when the underground in Italy began to surface and enter the mainstream It was the underground culture that surfaced onto mainstream. The leader of Area, Demetrio Stratos, was an accomplished throat-singer who could sing multiple notes simultaneously. In the ‘70s this was unheard of!

On the Road

I started busking around the time I began working in earnest on my jazz guitar chords. I was singing jazz standards in piano bars, and I would accompany myself on guitar. This was my great love for a few years. It was funny – I was more drawn to the “blues mamas” coming out of gospel than the chromatic perfection of soul singers, yet I was singing all the jazz standards.

I travelled for a long stretch with a fantastic sax player from California: I took him on my motorcycle, together with my guitar, his alto sax, two packs and a tent – a carload on a puny Honda 400! We broke a lot of spokes. We visited so many places and busked in most of them. We soon belonged to an amazing, mysterious underground nation of “street people.”

My partner, Jamison Smeltz, was a true a pro and an audience magnet. He had studied with Stan Getz! He was, and still is, phenomenal. He was the star and a fun partner for music, travel, adventure…when we got a busload of Americans or Japanese all ready with their cameras to take photographs, we would suddenly drop the music, grab our cameras and photograph the multitude of cameras in front of us! We all laughed. We felt at ease, and at home, anywhere in the world.

We did quite well in touristic places, like Firenze, Northern Italy and across the border. From there we’d travel to places where our expenses exceeded our earnings, like Spain and Morocco. It was a splendid time, thick with adventure, and we made lifetime friends: “good friends we found/good friends we lost/along the way” – this part of that life was significant. While we were on the road I met different people who lived outside of the societal norms I had known, relying on the most creative approach, on solidarity with fellow travelers, artists, musicians, artisans, performers of all kinds. I discovered genius, talent, virtue and freedom, all within the world of poverty and itinerant life.

Coming to America

When I moved to the USA, I lost confidence in my singing in my first week, the moment I heard these amazing women singing the Gospel in a church in Philadelphia! It took me a while to find my true voice. In San Francisco I started to shift toward electric guitar, funk rock…more aggressive sounds. I got lucky again – I found great musicians who liked to play my songs! I played in several groups, trios, duos, gigged in San Francisco and Santa Cruz and Bay Area towns…it was wonderful.

During my San Francisco days I supported my music projects by working at the best place for a musician, the Great American Music Hall, as a waitress. Etta James heard me play a song in a dressing room one day, and she yelled, “You go girl!” Who could forget that? I met a lot of big names and saw them live: Johnny Cash, Ani Di Franco, Albert King…I also saw some not-so-famous bands that made my life exciting, fulfilling and rich – at least for the three days a week I worked. It was inspiring. Heaven. Sometimes I would end the night “shooting the shit” with the likes of Trey Anastasio of Phish!

Many shows brought specific gifts to me. Etta James showed me what it means to be powerful. Johnny Cash showed me simple is better, that the best stories are unadorned. John Lee Hooker showed me what it means to let your true self surface. Some of the younger bands I saw in those days demonstrated how to let yourself go, how to channel all your energy into your performance.

Dirty Trainload

After about 15 years I grew tired of writing songs in my usual style. I left my beloved band and went traveling again. During a break from traveling, in my hometown of Bari, I started to collaborate with Bob Cillo. It all began from just jamming together, or while I was preparing a tune to play as a guest at one of his shows.

I was smitten with an album he had produced, a blues project different from any others I had heard from him. That was the first Dirty Trainload album. Soon our musical partnership blossomed, and for the second album, Trashtown, we were partners. I love Bob’s blues guitar! It’ s raw, gritty, gutsy, strong…he means, and feels, every note. He’s my favorite living bluesman, for sure.

We write very well together – even when we’re on opposite sides of the planet, we send each other MP3s and develop each other’s ideas. I lean on his tremendous experience in the blues realm, and he gets my instinctual approach towards strong rock expression. And we both write lyrics we care about. Every word has its place and importance – the lyrics aren’t just a medium for the delivery of our tunes.

Welcome to Trashtown

Trashtown was produced as a concept album, one about the “nasty part of town,” its places, situations and stories, its characters. “Trashtown” is where you find crime, poverty and unemployment, the low-paying jobs, drugs and prostitution…the places abandoned and forgotten by governments. The places the “nice people” avoid.

I unfortunately had a few setbacks, cancer and a serious motorcycle accident, and I had to leave Bob and our music for a while so I could heal. I came back to Dirty Trainload around 2017-2018. As we have always denounced cruelty, hypocrisy and poverty in politics and society, this was where we started, naturally, when I returned.

Revolution and Crime

While I was recovering, Bob began working with a new partner, Go Balzano, a tight, terrific drummer. It was also during this period that Bob had begun to sing! He realized he has a low and very powerful voice. With Bob on vocals, Dirty Trainload recorded a splendid vinyl album, A Place for Loitering. What a great record! Those two didn’t need me! But we all started to work together again, and we recorded “Revolution and Crime,” which we released at the end of April 2018. We are quite happy with the results of our collaboration! Revolution and Crime is a strong album: it makes very strong, opinionated statements, and we stand behind them. It describes “crime” as we see it, as perpetrated by governments.

What are these crimes, specifically? The power of lobbies over the lives of people. The industries and their government puppets killing nature, destroying crops, poisoning entire towns, even countries…abusing and disenfranchising the people wherever they have interests. The Keystone Pipeline, as well as the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, have been at the center of great protests on both sides of the world. We denounce the brutal assaults on protesters by police (“Torture Dogs”) and the unjust allegations made in courts against these protesters, many of whom have been denied their civil rights. Everywhere there are industries involved, we see the deployment of the scare tactics of the police state. In Europe, in the USA…everywhere.

Our lyrics on Revolution and Crime also denounce the ongoing refugee crisis (“Samir”), the industry of war (“Too Far Gone”) and incarceration and the treatment of inmates – we have three covers on the album, all about prison, and our renditions are very passionate and quite personal. We also sing about how poverty lead to isolation, substance abuse, dysfunctional families, schools that don’t educate children, and despair (“Cod’ine,” “Dry Throat”, “Slanted Houses”).

Marching On

Dirty Trainload isn’t a band with catchy political slogans, but we play with passion and we sing about what matters to us. What matters to us is we are blindly marching to the tune of governments lead by opportunists and unbelievable fools – by criminals! – who have aggregated themselves into powerful groups, into oligarchies. And they are buying, jailing and killing their way to more money, more power and more destruction.

I have always participated, since my youth, in fighting injustice. I will not permit my conscience to remain asleep. I can’t avoid what I see around me. I always join the groups that work for justice, for equality, for the welfare and interests of all the people and for our planet – we must educate ourselves. I am a programmer at Free Radio Santa Cruz, one of the oldest pirate radio stations in the USA (if not “the” oldest). We are socialists, and we broadcast real news in Spanish and English.

Un Cri de Coeur

I might have written a couple of love songs in my life, a few introspective songs, but most of my songs address the political situation as I see it. I believe we create our destiny – if we don’t, we should! We must transform ourselves and those around us from victims to dignified, respected human beings. I am so lucky I found in Bob Cillo a partner for this, as well as for music. He and I share the same indignation about the same grievances – we are fired up for the same battles. I don’t want this to sound like we’re on some kind of crusade, and we don’t have any affiliation: we let our ‘truths’ shape our words, and then we belt them out, unapologetically, on any stage willing to host Dirty Trainload.

Music is the expression of my existence, I think. I move and grow through music. My political agenda, my sensitivity for social issues expresses its life, its vibrancy, through my music. I sculpt the words carefully, as simple as they might be. I search for the melodic sentence that makes the song, I seek the rhythm that tells you the story before the words will, and then I surf the waves we create within the band’s sounds…it is a splendid life, the way I see it.

For a review of Revolution and Crime in Italian, you can find one here, from


(2007) Rising Dust

(2011) Trashtown

(2014) A Place for Loitering

(2018) Revolution and Crime

The entire Dirty Trainload discography is available on Bandcamp.

Live Performances and Videos Available on YouTube

 Dirty Trainload is putting together an anthology of prison songs. For information, please visit their Facebook page.