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Ron Gallo finds his authentic voice on 'Heavy Meta'

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After years of developing his voice and songcraft in his hometown of Philadelphia, Ron Gallo says everything is coming together after he moved to Nashville. Yet it’s not so much about Music City’s connections but rather how age and experience have brought him to an authentic place as an artist. On the heels of a killer new album release, we asked him about his growth and maturity and what it was like to stop Nashville’s busiest street for a music video.

You’re on the verge of a new release. What are the emotions right now?

I’m incredibly excited. I’ve been doing music-related things for the better part of the last decade. It’s super exciting to get to a place where you have people helping you out and things falling into place in a way. The ability to travel the country and the world and have this stuff reaching people, to be able to play for people and having that to look forward to is everything to me. I’ve been doing it regardless. For me, it’s pure excitement. I know it’ll be a lot, but it’s really not work because I’m just grateful to do it in this capacity and have people behind it at this point.

You moved to Nashville about a year ago, correct?

Yeah, almost to the day.

How has that move been? When you leave Philly, was it what you thought or hoped?

I didn’t really set any expectations for myself moving to Nashville. For me it was a personal thing. I wanted to get out of Philly. I wanted a change of scenery. Nashville just seemed obvious, because it’s a musical town. I have a larger friend base there, and I love the rock and roll, garage punk being made there. It just made sense to me and it can’t hurt musically to go there. It wasn’t the kind of thing where I thought, “I can’t wait to go to Nashville so I can make shit happen!”

It’s actually been crazy how everything has come about. I’ve spent a lot of time sitting in my place in Philly wondering what I’m doing with my life, thinking about how hard it is to get traction and get this record going. I came to Nashville and things just started to click. I started to figure out what I was about and putting it out into the world. Here we are a year later, I’m now with New West and we have support behind the record and touring on the horizon. It’s awesome. It’s crazy how it’s all lined up coordinating with the move.

So there’s a real sense that things are falling into place more than any other point in your career?

Absolutely. The way I look at it and always have is that once you get an inkling of what you’re about and what you’re trying to put out into the world, and you start creating from that place that you feel is where you are most yourself, that’s when it starts to click with people. Maybe people are more intuitive to bullshit than we think they are. But when I look back, I was never really digging too deep or facing stuff that I could. I didn’t exactly know my goals with music. I didn’t know they could be what they are now.

I guess that’s what has happened over these last couple years is that I’ve started to create from that place. It’s having something to stand for, a larger purpose for making music. I guess it’s just starting to resonate a little more and that’s keeping me honest with it. The no bullshit stuff, people can pick up on that, hopefully.

I want to ask about the music itself on the new album but I just can’t over the incredible video for “Please Yourself”. As someone who lived in Nashville, I love that you interrupted the tourist strip of lower Broadway.

Yes! We got really lucky with that. We just knew that we had one take to do it. It’s not like if I got on the truck and my guitar got out of tune, we could just run it back and start over. We knew that no matter what, we had one chance. It was super nervewracking but we got really lucky.

These new songs sound great. I want to connect the dots here, because you said you’re just now finding out who you are and your purpose for playing, so how does that play into the music you’re making on Heavy Meta?

It’s interesting because a lot of this record was made over the last two years, so even now, my worldview has changed since even these were written. But this was the beginning for me of turning inward, I think, and looking at myself and my own bullshit and issues and things and also how I see those things projected onto the world, the issues I have with the state of the world and society and culture. It’s looking at that, instead of ignoring it, and trying to confront all of that stuff.

I think that’s been the biggest thing. There are elements of me that always wrote from that place, but this is the first step in that direction of making music that I want to impact people. Not myself, because it’s not really self-indulgent, but if there’s any way to get people to turn inward or look at the world around them a different way or get people fired up to realize their own power, which I think to be limitless….

With everything that’s going on politically and culturally, it’s easy to look around and wonder, “Where can I even start? I’m just one person.” But that’s where you start. You start with yourself and try to get yourself right. You figure out what you’re about and it starts to resonate in the world around you. It’s really the only thing that you can do.

Is that a part of the title, then?

That title just kinda came out during one of the final sessions recording the record. I just said it out loud and Joe and I were like, “That’s thte title.” It uses the word “heavy” so that’s the topic of the record and even sonically, it’s heavy at times. But then you have the word “meta” and even the pun on heavy metal, it’s just this three-way thing that captures the essence of this heavy record sonically and thematically that has this undercurrent of sarcasm in the midst of it all.

I think as people, myself and the band, we’re not overly serious people. I think that if you use a bit of weirdness or humor when covering heavier topics, it makes it more digestible. That title really captured all of those elements for us.

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