Ron Gallo talks on his new record entitled HEAVY META, playing the big festival circuit, and preparing for his first European tour.
Your record HEAVY META was released in February and is your New West Records debut. How are the songs different from your previous release, RONNY?
I think HEAVY META is the most "me" thing I've ever done. That's the biggest difference. Everything I've made prior over the last decade maybe scratched the surface but was mostly me hiding or just not knowing what I was supposed to do with music. I guess I realized it's my vehicle for cutting through bullshit, both mine and the worlds and confronting some stuff - the death of any self-indulgence; not to mention, stylistically it's just about the opposite. RONNY was a more acoustic, weird island-country album and HEAVY META is aggressive, electric and in your face.
What inspired the songwriting for HEAVY META?
Confronting some worldly issues for the first time which resulting me facing myself for the first time because I am apart of it all and turns out it's pretty heavy but also hilarious.
You moved from Philadelphia to Nashville a few years ago. How did you make that decision? What parts of Nashville were intriguing? Was the departure from Philly a tough decision or a relief?
It started by needing to get the hell out of Philly, so the move was a relief. I was really drawn to the friends I had made in Nashville from coming here over the years. One of them reached out that happened to have a room open up in her house for the same price I was paying in Philly. The timing was impeccable so I jumped at it. It's been the best decision. The music scene here is unreal. All my friends are geniuses.
Even though New West isn't a "country" label, they seem to specialize in a folky/country/singer-songwriter vein of music releases. How do you fit into this mold and in what ways does that style of music influence your sound?
I definitely didn't fit into the traditional New West mold but I think that's a part of it. This is the beginning of a whole new wave at the label and it's exciting to cultivate something with the people there because they are genuine music people, they really care and I love them dearly.
Did you produce HEAVY META yourself? What was the recording and production process like? Where was it recorded?
Joe Bisirri (bassist) and I produced the record over the course of a couple of years in various studios, apartments and bedrooms in Philly/NYC area. We didn't have the intention to even make a record but just started recording songs and started to see something cohesive come together.
You're doing the festival circuit with appearances at SXSW, Governor's Ball, and Nelsonville Music Festival. Is this your first time playing bigger festivals? What are you looking forward to about those shows? Anything less desirable about the festival environments?
We've done a few festivals here and there (ACL and Bonnaroo last year). I think the most exciting part of festivals is connecting with and being able to see other bands you really like and it's a nice environment. I like playing outside. The only thing less desirable is we prefer/work best in the smaller clubs where there's no wall between band and crowd and that's often inevitable in festival setting.
You've announced some European dates as well. Have you played through Europe before? What is most exciting about that tour? Anywhere in particular you're looking to playing or visiting?
Never been to Europe, really excited that music is what's bringing us there. I hear constantly how the American band experience in Europe is incredible in terms of appreciation and hospitality. I think I've always romanticized Paris. I feel like it's going to be a whole different world and I'm ready for that.
What kind of stuff have you guys been listening to in the van lately?
"LULU" by Lou Reed and Metallica particularly the song "Pumping Blood", a lot of jazz, Jonathan Richman, Eckhart Tolle audiobooks, Mahalia Jackson, X-Ray Spex and very often our friends bands and bands we play with on the road who we trade records with.
As you're on the road for long stretches promoting the new record, do you find yourself inspired and writing more material? There were a little under 3 years between RONNY and HEAVY META. Do you feel motivated or pressured to shrink the amount of time between albums with the increase in popularity and acclaim for your art?
Yeah, I write constantly. It'a really what I am in it for - the writing/creative part. That timing is merely logistical, now that we have partnered up with a label it's an exciting prospect to catch up with the creative output and put out at least one record a year for the rest of time if not more.