For those who have never been, SXSW is no walk in the park. While the conference has done its due diligence over the years making the process more easily navigable, the week still feels like sheer chaos no matter how many maps, apps, and information you have in advance. New experiences and shows crop up on random corners at all times of the day, and there are so many things to do and see and share that you truly can’t go wrong.

Ron Gallo was in Austin for their FIFTH SXSW experience this year, and we had the unique pleasure of having them take over our Instagram account for a short time that week. We also got to circle back with some questions about the 2023 SXSW experience, answered below.

an interview with ron gallo

imperfect Fifth (iF): What was the first song or album that you remember hearing, and does that work of art have any influence on how you approach your music today?

Ron Gallo (RG): The first CD I remember having in my possession as a kid was Coolio’s “Gangsters Paradise.” I’m not sure how it influences me directly now but I do gravitate towards listening to a lot of hip-hop from the era. Very nostalgic.

iF: Tell us a little bit about what got you started in music, and how this project came to be.

RG: I asked for a guitar when I was maybe 12, for no real reason. Took a few lessons, zero natural talent as a guitarist or singer. Then immediately started using it to write songs in high school when I started my first bands.

We were terrible. But I stuck with it. Then in my college years, I started my former band, which I think was when I started to figure out my voice and how to play half-decently. My “solo project” began in 2014 when I felt like my previous band was no longer in tune with where I wanted to go so I wanted to do my own thing that could perpetually evolve and grow and die with me.

Then came the first album in 2017, “HEAVY META” and that’s what started my actual touring professional music career which is still crazy to think about. Now, here I am still doing it. Not sure how.

iF: What a journey! Speaking of journeys, what did the road to SXSW look like for you, literally or figuratively?

RG: Woke up at 3:30 AM in Philadelphia on Wednesday 3/15, drove to the airport parking, took a shuttle to the terminal, went thru security, got on the plane, landed in Dallas at 9:30 AM, took another shuttle to the rental car, drove 3 hours to Austin, checked into the Airbnb, dropped off stuff, went to Waterloo Records and played our first show at 5 PM. Slept. Woke up at 5:30 AM the following morning to make pancakes for Chiara’s birthday then had to be out the door at 6:30 AM to go play live on air at KUTX at 8 AM. From there it was a relentless chain of play, pack up, go, rest, play, eat, pack up, go go go go go go go.

iF: Was this your first time at SXSW, or have you been to good ol’ ATX for the madness before?

RG: This was my 5th time!

iF: Not sure how you do it! Do you have a favorite go-to spot for food, bevs, or people-watching?

RG: Arlo’s Curbside! Amazing vegan burger. Also, love Jo’s Coffee/Tacos as well as Joann’s Fine Foods.

iF: Best showcase, besides your own?

RG: We didn’t see a single other show besides the ones we played because there was no time but I think my favorite show might have been a tie between Dr. Martens and Brooklyn Bowl/Consequence Party.

iF: So much to do, SO little time down there! What was the most magical thing you found in Austin?

RG: We found this taco truck oasis in some part of town that was off the beaten path where we had amazing food a bit of sun and warmth and a quiet moment.

iF: That sounds dope! What’s your absolute favorite word right now, and why?

RG: I like to call everyone BOSS, as a joke or by a random name that is not theirs.

iF: If you had the ability to tell the future, would you like it?

RG: I think the beauty of life is the not knowing.

iF: Insightful. And damn true! What’s coming up for you that you’d like us to tell everyone about?

RG: Just had a new album called “FOREGROUND MUSIC” come out a couple weeks ago and we are going to begin US and European touring in a couple weeks from now. Also going to be releasing our first book and a concert film we made very soon.

iF: Sounds like you’ve been busy! We absolutely can’t wait. Thank you so much for hanging out.

RG: Thanks for having us!!


Keep up with Ron Gallo here.

Meredith Schneider