Ron Gallo has been going through a transformation. A few years ago, he was the lead singer of the Philadelphia act Toy Soldiers. Then he moved down to Nashville and he started going solo while writing music that evokes an electrifying rock style. He then formed a band and released his debut album Heavy Meta this past February. Ever since, he’s been touring non-stop.
Gallo and his band will be playing the lounge at Fete Music Hall on November 18 as part of their current tour with the Naked Giants from Seattle. Providence punks Gymshorts will be opening things up as well. Before the show, we had a talk about his debut album, weirdos in Nashville, how he still has faith in humanity and a few new releases that are on the horizon.
Rob Duguay: Heavy Meta marks a transition for you as an artist. The band that you were the lead singer of in Philadelphia, Toy Soldiers, broke up in 2014 and you moved down to Nashville a few months later. What was the shift like for you at first and was going solo something you had in mind for a long time?
Ron Gallo: It was pretty much one thing leading to another. I got to the point where I wasn’t identifying with the band as much and I wanted to. I felt myself shifting and I felt what I thought the point of music and its purpose for me in my life changing so I wanted to move into something where I could fully be myself. I started writing music that I thought it should be used for and that’s when I went off on my own.
RD: Toy Soldiers had this Americana soul blues thing going on while your solo material is a lot more garage rock and punk. When most people think of Nashville they think of Music Row and all of the pop country crap you hear on the radio. What’s your impression of the city and what made you want to move there in the first place?
RG: Country definitely gets associated with that and it is a primary part of it but not really to me. There’s an amazing weirdo rock & roll scene in East Nashville especially with people doing stuff that has nothing to do with country music. There’s plenty of that and there’s a really strong, tight knit scene going on right now. What drew me to the place was that and liking the landscape of the city and the quality of life being a lot better than Philadelphia. I needed a change.
RD: The rhythm section you play with has a Rhode Island connection with Wakefield native Dylan Sevey as your drummer.
RG: Oh yeah.
RD: How did you get Dylan involved in your band?
RG: The first time Dylan and I played together I gave him 24 hours notice because I had a drummer back out of a couple shows and I needed somebody to fill in. So I gave him literally one day’s notice and I said “Hey, do you want to play some songs with me tomorrow in Providence?” and he showed up to the practice space the day before the show and he learned those songs inside and out. Later that year, I gave him six days notice to do a three day weekend run up in the northeast, he somehow was available, we got together and he crushed it. I always remember that stuff and we did another tour together in March with Julie Rhodes and I shared a rhythm section and that was with Dylan as well. As time went on, later last year it got to a point where I could justify putting together a solid group and not this rotating band thing anymore.
There was enough going on with enough touring where I could make it a sustainable thing and actually propose something to somebody and put together a set band. It’s been almost two years since Bonnaroo when we played there, which was kind of like the beginning of as it is now. It’s been just the three of us with me, Dylan and our bassist Joe Bisirri.
RD: Dylan is a great kid. He’s very kind, very well kept together and has a level head.
RD: The songwriting you exhibit has a bit of social and political commentary. There’s a certain guy in the White House that has been the cause of a lot of division in this country and it seems like most people are stricken with a case of cognitive dissonance. How do you feel about what’s happening in our society these days and do you feel that writing songs is a release for you from all this?
RG: Personally, I am not really political at all. I’m way more interested in what individuals can do to empower themselves enough to go beyond this endless cycle of corruption and suffering that comes from allowing yourself to be controlled by the outside world as opposed to ignoring your inside world. That’s really what I am about, I am not political at all. I don’t give a shit, it’s something that I don’t have anything to do with. There’s nothing I can do about it.
To me, what’s happening is the biggest reminder that you cannot rely on any false sense of higher powers or leaders to comfort or take care of you. We’re all on our own and we’re all equally clueless and because of that it creates a sense of unity in my mind. We’re all in this together, there’s no one higher, there’s no one lower, it’s a sense of equality. In that, it’s when you stop succumbing to political leaders, celebrity and media. You start to realize your own inherent value and through that you can take personal responsibility for yourself and the world around you and the way you treat people.
That actually benefits the community around you if you do that as opposed to getting all caught up in a disaster. That’s my whole thing. I think what’s really going on is it’s the same thing with the human body. People don’t think to eat healthy or take care of themselves until they get sick. I would apply that same thing to society and America right now where because of the situation in the White House and all this division with hatred, assault and all these things that are coming out, it’s a really huge opportunity for humanity to heal itself like a purging or sorts. Only because things are in a negative place right now, people are actually going to do what it takes to change it where as if everything is just all good and all the negativity is buried then people get complacent. As bad as it may seem, I think that ultimately it’s the most surefire path to positivity in the future.
RD: I totally agree, it’s a very interesting analogy that you have but I get it. You’re currently on this tour with the Naked Giants so what are your plans for the rest of the year after this? Do you plan on going back into the studio? Do you plan on laying low?
RG: We actually have a concept EP coming out in the middle of January, which is already done. We’re planning on putting that out on top of next year and in December we’re going to start recording our second full length record which is going to come out next summer so that’s the plan.