Ron Gallo treads the line between two mindsets: 1. The world is completely fucked. and 2. The Universe is inside you.
On his New West debut HEAVY META he introduces a fearless, nervy rocker whose audacious songwriting and raw, relentless performance style resist easy categorization and impress on their own uncompromising terms. Gallo writes insistently catchy, punk-rooted tunes that cast an unflinching eye on the challenges and absurdities of contemporary life, and he and his band (bassist Joe Bisirri and drummer Dylan Sevey) play them with fiercely focused intensity.
Throughout HEAVY META, Gallo and company deliver raucous songcraft and barbed insight on such pointed numbers as "Young Lady, You're Scaring Me," "Put the Kids to Bed," "Kill the Medicine Man," "Why Do You Have Kids?" and "All the Punks Are Domesticated." Gallo recorded the songs in small batches without the initial intention of making an album, and without the support of a record label amidst a busy touring schedule. "They were written and recorded over the most intense and transformative years of my life," Gallo notes. "Coming out on the other side, I now look at my past as a hazy dream where I did not know myself or the world at all. I still don't know anything, but I am closer than before."
Gallo got his musical start during his eight-year stint as leader of the Philadelphia combo Toy Soldiers, which began as a guitar/drums duo before evolving into a sprawling 12-piece and eventually settling into a more manageable quintet format. "I consider that band my musical training wheels," Gallo says of his former band. "We barreled around the country many times, made many mistakes, had good times and eventually played our last show in August of 2014. Shortly thereafter, I started a label called American Diamond Recordings and put out a solo record called Ronny; the cover is my face with a slice of pizza on it and it sounds like an island vacation."
Now relocated to Nashville from his native Philadelphia, Gallo wrote most HEAVY META’s songs in the wake of a period of personal reawakening and musical rebirth. "These songs all come from a real place of experience or observation," Gallo explains. “It’s the first few findings from my guerilla treasure hunt for bullshit, both outside and within. Some of them are stories, but others stemmed from the spark of a single image I saw on the street or in a typical life situation, which spiraled into these elaborations on these moments and the feeling surrounding them.” "A lot of it," he explains, "comes from a place of humor as well. Moments of realization, or a lifting of the veil, are usually comical when you can see past the initial illusions of the world. It's about the immortalization of images, moments in this singular existence that seem to hold a more universal truth than what is taken at face value—be it the domestication of punks, or the time I saw a mother's cigarette ash falling onto her child's head in a stroller.”
Gallo's songs often demonstrate a sense of frustration with the human race, balanced by the underlying hopefulness of an idealistic realist. "I think that the human race has gone too far," he states. "The party has lasted too long, and we have gotten very far away from the point. The purpose of existing has gotten lost in this illusory reality we think to be real. We are here just to be, and to radiate light and love, and not to worry about paying bills, climbing ladders, killing each other or acquiring money or objects. This record comes from my frustration with humanity and myself, and from my wanting to shake us all. At my core, I’m compassionate for humanity and the sickness that we all live with, and from that comes something more constructive."
Gallo has already earned a reputation for rousing, uninhibited live shows, and is looking forward to take HEAVY META on the road. "I love touring," he says. "For me, the live show is the most alive and in-the-moment place on Earth. There is no time to overanalyze, and I just let things unfold in some sort of controlled chaos and surrender to what seems right in the present moment. There's a good deal of improvisation that occurs live and sometimes only ever happens once.”
"I like to mess with people, and I like being messed with," Gallo continues. "In this autopilot, low-attention-span, sensory-overloaded world, it is vital to me to toy with reality, even if it results in discomfort or confusion. I'd rather have someone be completely unsure of what they just saw and questioning their existence and mine than just enjoy a typical fun night out on the town. I'm not even sure what it will be sometimes; that’s how I stay in love with it. The songs and the music are the skeleton, and the energy and internal impact are what you buy a ticket to."
"I want to use music to reflect the times and challenge myself and talk about potentially heavy real-world things," Gallo concludes. "I am forever grateful for this life and for anyone who comes to a show, buys a record or wants to have a real conversation. I have no idea where things are going, but I know it's best to grow with them and be OK with whatever happens. As for right now, it seems like a great time to wake up, and put all of ourselves into it."