Taking the stage in Brooklyn on Thursday (at Baby’s All Right) is an artist who is as well-rounded of a modern artist as he is an outspoken counter-culture creative.
On a scale of one to 10, singer/songwriter Ron Gallo’s cool meter just struck 11. He’s always been the epitome of cool – especially with his rock and roll debut Heavy Meta (2017) – but now he’s on the edge of something different, something bigger. The experimental rocker has a book and a movie coming out on April 18 to go along with his already-released new album, Foreground Music.
His evolution since Meta has been a grand one, growing to half a million fans and counting, but his career hadn’t fully come to fruition for him until recent. “I have probably done a full circle. I have experimented a lot in very different corners of music since [the debut]. 2018’s Stardust Birthday Party went in the eighties/new wave/post punk realm, while Heavy Meta was a little bit lo-fi, and 2021’s Peacemeal was more of a lo-fi pop record with not a lot of guitars on it,” the singer explains to us
“Now, I’m back five minutes from where I made Heavy Meta in Philadelphia. I feel very similar to when I made that record. I feel this new album is sort of a return to a way of that, but informed by the things that happened in the middle.
The Aquarian sat down with the singer via Zoom to talk about that album, the side quests along the way, and what the future of rock and roll holds.
Your new album is called Foreground Music. Why name it as such?
People always ask me what kind of music I make. One day, I said, “Foreground music would be a good genre for me.” It’s the opposite of background music – it’s very in your face, kind of intense, kind of unavoidable in a way. It started as a genre term. I ended up applying it to the record because it’s a return to that urgent, intense music from the first record and it lyrically addresses what is going on in the world right now. It just seemed to fit.
Your songwriting seems anti-government… thoughts?
I’m against things that are problematic, that are not out to serve a sense of humanity, and are against the greater good to push things forward. I’m against people who try to hold [life] back, that are self-preservationists, in a way, that think about themselves. I am against people using hatred and fear to govern. It is ultimately political, but there is a severe lack of humanity, and that is my bigger issue.
What do you want the public to get out of your music and songwriting?
I guess to feel less alone if they feel anxious, when having a meltdown in recent years with the state of the world. Feeling empowered – it’s ok to stand up for things that do not serve you. I think those things can go together. If you can listen to a song that describes how you are feeling, that could be a very empowering thing. That would be a success for me.
Your book, Social Meteor, arrives April 18. Do you think it’s a good time for it?
Yes, it’s a good companion piece to the album. It seems to be a good thing to have them go together. It’s for people who like the record and want to go deeper. The book is about a bunch of stuff I wrote while making the record in late 2021 and early 2022. It gets into a lot of the topics on Foreground, but deeper. It’s a bunch of essays and rantings and what not.
Then Before the Building Goes Up is the first film you put together. Can you tell us more about it?
We filmed it in the end of May 2022, in my neighborhood in Fishtown, Philadelphia. There’s an open lot with a mural welcoming people to Fishtown. We found that the open lot was going to be changed into a major development site. This project was going to block the mural that welcomes people to Fishtown and change the face of Frankford Avenue completely. I decided to get the band together and play the new record there and we made a film out of the performance before anything happened.
The “Foreground Music” video is quite original. Where did you get the idea for it?
I can’t take credit for the idea. Ryan Bender, the director, reached out to me and said he had the idea that this person’s house gets robbed while in the virtual reality world. He thought it was right up my alley with my sense of humor. It was a great idea on his part.
Kills Rock Star – is that a good record label to be on?
It’s amazing! So many artists that I grew up on were signed to that label and to be a part of that legacy is amazing. All these year later to be working with them is a cool thing. Great label, great team, great people. Super artist friendly… it feels good to be on the label.
Where do you see the future of rock and roll going?
I hope it has no form. All the kind of barriers can be done with in terms of who makes what type of music. I sort of struggle with the rock umbrella because it’s such a watered-down term at this point unless you are talking about the alternative or indie or post punk scene, which I find to be very interesting. I hope it becomes intelligent, creative, and innovative again. I think all the innovation in music has been in hip-hop and pop. I’m trying to push the genre forward to where it’s interesting again.
Are you excited about your upcoming tour? How does this tour differ from other tours you were on?
Nervous and excited. It’s different because the world is different. Things are still a little off after the pandemic. The internet and disconnection and isolation of it all – I think me and the band just want to play in person now. That’s where we belong and where this new record belongs, as well.
YOU CAN PRE-ORDER RON GALLO’S BOOK HERE! FOR MORE ON HIS HAPPENINGS AND RELEASES, VISIT HIS WEBSITE!