• About A Band: Ron Gallo

    Time is a social construct. Because of the communal behavior time inspires, we typically view the new year as an opportunity for change—if you want it. For Nashville musician Ron Gallo, transformation doesn’t really need a nice, clean date—he’s been doing it for the last two years. December 31st is unnecessary, anyhow.

    “We played this event in Raleigh, North Carolina. We played in an art museum. Bizarre, but fun,” Ron Gallo reveals of his band’s holiday plans. “If we didn’t do that, I usually like to sit at home, just be with near and dear people. I’m not into it.” 

    It makes sense—for a musician whose been in the game for nearly a decade, a single night of debauchery doesn’t seem too appealing. There are much bigger and better things to spend your energy doing, and Gallo is willing to put in the work. The musician first caught our eye in the popular Philadelphia country-rock band Toy Soldiers but, as he assured us over the phone, those days are over. Ron Gallo: Solo Artist is someone else entirely, and he’s worthy of your time. His latest LP, Heavy Meta, solidifies it.
    Photos by CJ Harvey, words by Maria Sherman

    You’ve been playing music for a while—it’s a lengthy chronology. 
    My whole thing with my musical history is that I look at it in two parts. The last year-and-a-half is chapter two. Pretty much everything in my life before that is chapter one. Part one: I got a guitar and didn’t know what to do with it so I learned a bunch of punk songs and started taking classes. I realized I was spending money to be taught something I could teach myself. I played in a couple shitty bands in high school. We played VFW halls in South Jersey.

    I started my former project, Toy Soldiers when I was in college. I was 19. That was an 8-year-long band. That was my first exercise in touring—my first time trying to have an actually legitimate musical project. We went through all the bullshit and made all the mistakes that bands do when trying to do everything on their own. The situation doesn’t get improve; you get better at handling it. 

    I really consider the beginning of my musical life as beginning two years ago after Toy Soldiers disbanded. I went through a lot of my own internal transformations. Now I see myself as a completely different person. Where I create from now, it’s a whole other realm. It took me a long time to get here.

    Eight years is a long time for any relationship, but especially for a young band. How did you sustain it for so long? When did you realize it was time to close that chapter?
    [Toy Soldiers] fluctuated between 20 different people. I was the only constant. I stayed with it because I didn’t know anything else. I worked pretty hard to establish something. I didn’t want to have to start over. I kept rolling with it because it had a little bit of steam. The inverse is that when things started going well—we were getting good shows, we were developing an audience, things were gaining momentum—is when I was unhappiest. We came back from a really challenging three-month tour and we decided to take some downtime. I took a trip out West, by myself, for a couple weeks. I played a few solo shows and roamed around, embraced the silence. I played these shows and I found myself having fun. They weren’t necessarily good but I found myself loving playing again. I got back and felt that there was more to myself that I was putting off [in Toy Soldiers.] I didn’t really identify with it anymore. The second I realized I was unhappy, that’s when it was time to put it to bed. We played our last show in July 2014 at Union Transfer in Philly. [Then], I made my first solo record just for fun and dug more into self-investigation which lead to making my new record, Heavy Meta

    There’s something to be said about the move from band to solo act—you no longer have anything to hide behind.
    That keeps me honest. In the band setting, I could get away with not being vulnerable, not saying what I need to say. I am about self-empowerment, about the power a human being has to change themselves and the world around them. That’s one of the biggest realizations I’ve had. Going solo wasn’t daunting—for me, it was an extension of living.

    Right around the time you went solo, you relocated from Philadelphia to Nashville. Why the move?
    I went to Temple [University in Philly] and stayed. I integrated with the city. I was there for 10 years. Philadelphia ran its course for me. I needed a change in scenery. Nashville was a natural step—I’ve been coming here for years. There’s such a great garage [rock] scene here. There’s the country thing it’s known for, but underneath it is this underbelly of weirdo rock 'n' roll. I was really drawn to it. 

    Toy Soldiers felt so much more country than the stuff you’re doing now—you’ve become less Southern when you moved to the South.
    In Toy Soldiers, we romanticized music made in the South being a band from Philadelphia. That’s the nonsensical thing of it all. I didn’t really know what spoke to me so we began by embracing American roots, folk and blues. I don’t really identify with that. Then I revisited old Stooges, Richard Hell, 70’s New York stuff, that’s the stuff I really identify with. It’s weird to be embracing these things upon leaving the place. Maybe that’s my natural tendency, to go against the grain.

    What’s the meaning behind your latest album, Heavy Meta?
    The humor is that it’s a pun on heavy metal. The topics the record covers are relatively “heavy.” There’s a certain darkness to it. The concept of “meta,” of being self-referential is a huge part of me and the band’s personality. 

    The heavy and humorous thing makes sense in the video for “Please Yourself.” You recite a poem and then perform in the back of a moving truck, drunk people dancing around you.

    The spoken word part of the video is taken from another song on the record, “All the Punks Are Domesticated.” 

    That’s pretty critical.
Thank you [laughs]! That song sums up a lot of my feelings about the world, society, culture, music, myself, the Internet…everything that’s very true to now. It’s my most honest comment. Reciting those words and then going on Broadway with the most oblivious, wasted people everywhere, to me, it’s hilarious. It’s the anti-environment for what I’m saying with the record, but it’s also kind of the point.

    Heavy Meta is out February 3rd via New West Records.

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