‘All of the freaks have gone to bed…’: A conversation with Ron Gallo
It’s about time.
It’s about time someone kicked us all in the ass when it comes to the power and swagger (and social responsibility) of rock music. It’s been awhile since I came across a melodic entity that truly made me immediately blurt out, “Who in the hell in this? And why am I just hearing about this right now?”
Ron Gallo knocked me on my ass. Just when I’m growing weary of day-in-day-out rock acts wandering down the same well-worn paths of song themes and live performance antics, Gallo’s (already) infamous “Please Yourself” YouTube video documents a guerilla attack of hard rock and 1970s New York punk attitude.
In the short film, the singer wanders down an alley in downtown Nashville (Lower Broadway) doing spoken word, only to jump onto the back of a moving pickup truck (already filled with his band mates) as the power trio stops and performs in the middle of a busy intersection to shock and awe John and Jane Q. Public.
And what remains are the lyrics, which is where Gallo truly shines. In that spoken word video intro (aka the song “All the Punks are Domesticated”), that talent and aptitude comes to the forefront, “I will be forgotten in two generations/What will have been my big mark?/A couple little tears dangling in the dark/An impressive collection of digital remarks/An apple falls at the park/Where your body lay/Deep within the clay/It’s just another day/Where all of the punks are domesticated, all the freaks have gone to bed…”
There is such a sense of urgency and honesty in his work, one might surmise that in the coming years it will only become more apparent that Ron Gallo is a torch bearer of rock-n-roll, and all of what that entails — social change through artistic performance, valuing art at a cerebral level, and, most importantly, never forgetting the beauty and potential of the face in the mirror.
Garret K. Woodward: What I first heard your music, it felt like the instruments weren’t the only things plugged into the electricity. You and the band were as well. Where does that emotion and passion come from? What are you channeling?
Ron Gallo: Music is just an outlet for the truths that I want to live by. That allows every song and performance to come from that same place. For a lot of my musical pursuit, I didn’t always live or create with intent, but when I realized that was a thing, I started to feel like I was finally channeling myself — and that’s all you can do.
GKW: How do you want to contribute to the music industry, or be different from it in your approach?
RG: I want to see the freaks get recognition. I want to see all the money and power and freedom return to the most honest, fearless, weird, love-filled, contributing humans. We all know them. Basically, I want to start a hot new trend where the world is not completely backwards.
GKW: Where do you draw inspiration from for a song?
RG: Observation of myself and taking small scenes or occurrences that I witness in passing, and seeing what they say about the world that we live in. I’m interested in making songs that expose and talk about things that people know exist, but don’t necessarily acknowledge, and finding the humor in it. Songs that might make people turn inward and take responsibility for the world around them, ones that empower, or liberate, but in a lighthearted, digestible way.
GKW: What are you seeing out there these days when you take a gander at the landscape of the music industry? Everything is changing so rapidly, for good or ill. Where are we at, and where are we going?
RG: I spent way too much time trying to figure out how to navigate it, and the conclusion I made was to surrender to it and focus on what you make and nothing else. The music industry is a joke. How much illusion and game playing goes into creating a career out of your “art,” people need to see something validated by internet numbers before they will buy in to it, there needs to be some mythology or story — branding — it’s weird and the opposite of the point. If you look at what is most popular today, it confirms one thing — that world is ill. I’m not interested in playing any those games or creating illusions. I think that’s been a huge part of the music industry, and the world, for quite some time now, and somehow just being ourselves and frankly not giving a shit about the industry might very well be the reason it starts to pay attention to what we do, and that’s a beautiful and funny thing. It’s time for a mass wake up, and I think it’s the artists’ responsibility to do so.
GKW: What has all that touring and recording shown you about your music, your philosophy, your goals in music?
RG: It has been incredible to see any response that this music has affected or touched someone, inspired them to think or live a certain way, to empower themselves, to be their weird self, to examine their innards, to feel rejuvenated or excited for the future, to be fearless or think they see truth in it. When someone genuinely was impacted by what you do, it is the only thing that matters outside of the love for creating it. That is what I do it for. This is not for my own ego, personal gain or personal enjoyment even, it feels like a mission and one I am grateful to be on with great people.
GKW: What has a life playing and creating music taught you about what it means to be a human being?
RG: That the only point of life is to remember what you really are and it’s none of this. So, music for me has been a way to align my inner and outer purpose in life, figure out what I am and [what the] music [is, and] to try and do that all together.
Want to go?
Nashville hard rocker Ron Gallo will hit the stage at 9:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 30, at The Mothlight in West Asheville. The Nude Party and The All Arounders will also be performing. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 day of show. 828.252.5433 or www.themothlight.com.
Gallo’s latest album, “Heavy Meta,” will be released on Feb. 3 on New West Records. You can find the record and other information on his music at www.rongallomusic.com.