Ron Gallo’s debut solo LP, Heavy Meta, was released in February of 2017. The album highlights Gallo’s embittered, open-highway garage rock and features strong threads of punk and roots music. Gallo has been featured on NPR, Noisey, and the Fader and has toured with Twin Peaks, Oh Sees, White Reaper, and more. WTBU DJ Sophie Sachar spoke with Gallo ahead of his show with Naked Giants and Gymshorts at ONCE Somerville on Nov. 17.
Sophie Sachar: You recently released two songs, “Temporary Slave” and “Am I Demon,” both of which I really dig. Are those outtakes from Heavy Meta or perhaps a hint of what’s to come?
Ron Gallo: Both are outtakes. “Temporary Slave” was recorded during the first “Heavy Meta” session over 3 years ago and the Danzig cover last year. Probably not too indicative of where we’re going musically, but bearable enough to put out there as a little bonus thing alongside some of my old child pictures.
SS: What’s your songwriting and recording process like? Is there a lot of stuff that you throw away?
RG: I write songs constantly; it’s my favorite thing. Probably 60% of them just get lost and forgotten and never see the light of day because I have an intensive volcanic rock triple layer hybrid filtration system that most things don’t make it through. I feel like they don’t actually exist until they get played with other people, so songs I bring to Joe and Dylan are usually the ones that we end up playing. And if we record a song it will usually get released at some point; we don’t record a ton of excess. Heavy Meta, as well as the recent singles and the upcoming EP, were all recorded at home.
SS: One thing I like a lot about Heavy Meta is how cohesive it is, lyrically, thematically and sonically—but it also has enough wiggle room to where each song is unique and surprising. Did the tracks in Heavy Meta all come together because of your headspace at the time of writing or did you go at it knowing the theme you wanted for the album?
RG: Definitely more the headspace and what was happening internally and externally. It started with no intention of even making an album or really trying to pursue anything, just me trying to be honest with myself for the first time and using music as the means. We would record a few songs then sit around, play some shows, then record a few more, repeat. Then eventually we had 11 songs that oddly seemed to fit together and that’s when the idea of an album presented itself.
SS: If there were anyone you could see perform live, living or dead, who would it be?
RG: Until a few weeks ago the #1 was Iggy Pop, then I saw him and it was even beyond what I thought it would be. Other than that, I would love to have seen John Coltrane, Mahalia Jackson, Jeff Buckley, and Andy Kaufman.
SS: What is your favorite part about performing your music live?
RG: Usually, the parts where we mess with people or incorporate bizarre bits whether planned or spontaneous, because it’s mostly me just entertaining myself and that keeps playing the songs less robotic and keeps everything more in the moment. I like when there is a feeling that everyone there is all doing something together and no wall between us and audience.
SS: Either in college or when you were younger, what was your most embarrassing music phase?
RG: Sophomore year of high school I exclusively listened to and played Dave Matthews Band. Shortly thereafter I was in a synth-screamo band and joined a straightedge group that put on emo/hardcore shows. So, probably my current music phase is my most embarrassing.