Everything about Nashville's Ron Gallo is "utter": utterly chaotic; utterly fractured; and his bio describes a man who is not afraid to call utter bullshit on the most disappointing human norms. He shines bright despite being a sort of anti-rockstar.
Musically, Gallo — who fronted Philadelphia's Toy Soldiers before the band parted ways in 2014 — straps himself to a six-string muscle car, playing music that is somewhat related to garage rock in its roots-y fuzz and drive. The progressions he employs are refreshingly weird, but Gallo seems to know where it's all headed.
Gallo and his two bandmates, bassist Joe Bisirri and drummer Dylan Sevey, are on the road for a string of dates for the band's album, "Heavy Meta," released back in February. We here at CITY were curious, so we fired a few questions at Gallo, who fired right back. We discussed a world where Iggy Pop is king, Andy Kaufman as an influence, and change that's coming from within. An edited transcript follows.
CITY: Your music is unconventional yet very accessible. Is this something you try to do or does it just happen naturally?
Ron Gallo: It's just how it happens, being a hyperactive, probably pretty strange guy who also happens to like good songs and song structure.
Growing up what did you listen to?
Blink-182. Frank Sinatra.
In your world, who is king, musically?
I will say that Iggy Pop is a rare, untouchable force.
You've been quoted that you are more interested in the audience than the audience should be of you. What have you learned from that?
A show is a gathering of a bunch of people in a room all doing a thing together, and both parts are equally necessary to make the thing happen fully collaborative. Some bands, you feel there is a pedestal or wall between them and audience. I like it to all be one thing.
There's clearly garage rock in your sound, but what is an influence in there that isn't as obvious?
I listen to a lot of jazz; we incorporate some of it into the live show, and also there's the sense of improv or spontaneity. Andy Kaufman is also a big influence.
Explain the following quote a little, please: "I straddle the fence between two mindsets — 1. The world is completely fucked and 2. The universe is inside you."
The outside world is a reflection of the insides of the people that make it up. It's all one thing. People love to look outward and blame everything else for their suffering, but the truth is that a good portion of that suffering is self-inflicted, based on attachment or how we choose to see things.
Everything is everything. When you realize that, it causes someone to turn inward and find that the things that trouble them about the world actually only exist within them. It's a sense of personal responsibility for the world that I find liberating because that means if you want to change the world all you have to do is change yourself. It's all perspective.
What makes for a good Ron Gallo show?
For me, a carelessness that allows me to just be in the moment and have fun with it. People and decent sound help, too.
What do you offer musically, that nobody else does?
Evoking really fucked up sounds from the guitar as result of not really knowing how to play.
What do you do for fun?