Since the announcement of the end of Philly’s own, Toy Soldiers, and them performing their final show have you been wondering what lead singer, Ron Gallo, has been doing? Have you wanted to get inside his head? Well look no further my people!
I was lucky enough to catch Ron on some downtime between solo performances for a quicky interview to give the people what they want.. answers! Check it out below!
And make sure to give his solo project some love here!
How long has this idea of a break/break up been brewing?
I think it came about in early 2014. We went at it pretty hard for 2013 after “The Maybe Boys” record came out and we’re feeling a little burnt out from a 3 month tour that was really more like a 3 year tour and so we took a little break over the winter. That’s when i went out to the west coast for a couple weeks for some weird solo vacation. I realized I never did that before. Take a vacation, that is. Let alone solo. I played some shows and spent a lot of time thinking and wondering around aimlessly in this wild unfamiliar place where i didn’t know anyone and it made me start seeing things a little differently about what i was doing vs. what i wanted to/should be doing. I wasn’t playing some wildly successful packed shows but i was happy as shit to just be playing, and playing new songs that i cared about and that said a lot about how being in one band for 7 years can get to your head and create these expectations that take away from the most important part: having fun and loving what you’re doing.
How have the fans been reacting to this news?
There was a really heavy flow of emotionally charged facebook page comments that lasted about one day and that was about it. Lots of sad face smilies. Some with tears. Some without tears. Some slanty mouth faces. Some “nooooooooo”. Stuff like that. Really INTENSE stuff.
What is the one thing you are going to miss the most about being a part of Toy Soldiers/a band (for now at least)?
I love everyone in the band and have been/hope to continue playing with some of them. There is a lot of commradrie and memories in retrospect seem amazing.
Do you believe Toy Soldiers did what they were set out to do? Or do you think there is still more to give, that’s why this break up is left open ended?
I do believe that Toy Soldiers did what it set out to do. For me it was my musical 5k training session. Learning how to sing and play and write and work with people. I learned a ton about myself, people, the music business, touring, and made a ton of great friends, connections and planted a ton of little seeds that i hope I can now cultivate into something now without as many mistakes and I think we’re all just better than we were as individuals when the band started. It’s kind of nice to be able to start anew but take all the growth with you.
What is your proudest moment/greatest achievement as a band?
The coolest moments for the band were recording at SUN Studios in Memphis, being Wanda Jacksons backing band, somehow 5 guys traveling 10’s of thousands of miles and not dying.
What first got you into playing music?
I got an electric guitar for christmas when i was about 12 years old. Learned how to hold it properly, then some punk songs, had my first band in high school that was awful and by college time I started to find what I was really into and have been on that path for about 8 years now. Always changing.
How does your solo music differ from the sound of Toy Soldiers?
At heart, I’m a major weirdo and that got lost in the democratic setting of a band. Ideas-wise it was probably for the best because then all of our record covers would have had pizza on them and we would have been so scatter brained musically that no one would know what to do with us, and we probably would have done a lot less conventional things. But, solo I’m letting all of that hang out. Just being myself. The first record I call my “weirdo country” “troll pop” album, the next one might be really heavy dark psychadelic music, maybe i’ll make an album of jazz standards. The biggest difference is the solo thing is all of me and it’s always going to be unpredictable and true to who i am at any given time.
You released your album Ronny last month, what was the writing process like for these songs?
All of those songs we’re written sporadically over the last couple of years and I would pick one, go in, record voice and guitar or piano, then layer everything around it. After that was done, on to the next one. They weren’t written cohesively but kind of ended up working out that way. Writing for me is a constant thing, everyday, all day thinking about it. Each song happens entirely differently. Some over 5 minutes in the bathroom, some while riding a bike, some take a couple weeks of going back and adding. Some start with guitar chords, some a melody, some 2 pages of gibberish. With “Ronny” they are very sparse and a lot about the words and the nakedness of the song then anything else.
Do you have a favorite track off Ronny?
“If You Gotta Know” has some weird magic happening on it. It was the first song we recorded and I never tire of it. It’s very loose and careless and has those intangible things you always strive for but can’t really strive for on a record.
“Fine Diners & Finer Whiners” is probably the best “song” on the record.
“Started a War” has my favorite production on the record.
You’ve created American Diamond Recordings. Can you tell us who else is involved in that and tell us a little bit about the label?
Yes! American Diamond came about as result of an accident with a distribution deal for the Toy Soldiers “The Maybe Boys” record that lead to me acquiring a deal if I started a label. It’s named after the intersection where our studio is (the former Dr. Dog studio). It has since grown into a collective involving The Lawsuits, TJ Kong & The Atomic Bomb, Levee Drivers, Toy Soldiers (and it’s members) and Marley McNamara (who manages The Districts, Ali Wadsworth, Levee Drivers and Pine Barons).
The goal of American Diamond is to take all this incredible music, and very natural musical family stuff happening here in Philly and put a name on it and make it into something bigger than it’s parts. Having done a ton of traveling over the last few years, what is happening in Philly musically isn’t happening elsewhere. There is a certain commraderie, vibe, “be yourself” attitude to Philadelphia that is very unique and I think it deserves a very big place on the map.
How do you feel you’ve changed as a musician from when you started Toy Soldiers, to now, starting a solo project?
I feel I’ve grown exponentially as a musician, singer, writer, performer. At least I hope that’s what happened over time. Everyday I get more and more in tune with what I’m into, capable of doing, and more comfortable as a music making person. Toy Soldiers was my training wheels now I can take all of that in conjunction with a ton of musical/touring growth and start anew.
What else can we expect from Ron Gallo in the future?
Oh man, I don’t even know what to expect from him, if I did, it would probably ruin it for me. All i can say is it will be a ever-changing and constant flow of new music, solo shows, full band shows, banter, having fun, letting all the weirdness out, collaborations, traveling, novels, oil paintings, new fashion lines, “ron gallo” school binders, pencils, perfumes, rollerblades. I’m just gonna see where things take me and be making a lot of stuff a long the way and being in on some weird joke against the world with myself with friends old and new. Somebody pay me to make records and I will make a lot of them for you, always.