Expert Music Career Advice For DIY Musicians

Emerging Artist Feature & Video: Toy Soldiers


Oct 7, 2011 02:47 PM

Tess Cychosz

I recently got the opportunity to catch up with Ron Gallo, the front man to Philly band Toy Soldiers. Toy Soliders are the winners of an Independent Music Award for "Best Blues Song" and also had a great gig at The Living Room in NYC for a showcase with the IMAs. With a string of successes, I wanted to learn a little more about the band. (Oh and don't forget, the deadline to submit to this year’s IMAs is creeping up on October 14th.) 

Tell me a little bit about your history. When did you guys start making/writing music together?

A short history: Started the band in September 2007, as a duo between my old drummer friend and I, when we went to make our first album I recruited a big 10 piece band to record on it, and following shortly after most of them were in the live band. In August, 2010 that phase of the band crumbled and since then we're where we are now. The current and definitive band have been playing together for about a year now, our first show with current lineup was a CMJ show last year in Brooklyn.

What do you hope listeners will get from your music?

I think ideally as a live band we want people to dance their asses off and just have a really good time, like some hurricane came through a room and left it behind. As a studio band, we want to try and recreate that live energy (which we're still figuring out). We want people to take from our music the same thing we take from the music we love. We all hear (or feel) something in the blues and rock n' roll music that is undeniable, we want people to feel whatever that is, and also maybe some people will discover our older influences from our music and we'd hope to introduce folks to things they may not be familiar with.

So, Toy Soldiers is the 10th IMAs Blues Song Winner and recently you had a successful night in NYC at The Living Room with an IMA showcase. How have those experiences with the IMAs helped you in your career?

Having won the award is a nice thing to have under the belt. We're all very heavy into blues and such, so having done something notable on any scale within that vein is something we're happy about. It hasn't had any major impact as of yet or anything but we wholeheartedly appreciate the appreciation!

In your experience, what’s the most challenging thing about being an emerging artist?

The most challenging part is the beginning, the part where you have to "pay your dues". Most artists go years before ever seeing anything come their way as a result of what they're making. Whether it be financial, recognition or just getting gigs it takes a long time in the world we live in to get to a relatively comfortable place where you start seeing some kind of light. It goes both ways though, the grind isn't easy when you're struggling and broke and scrapping to keep on keeping on, but the love for what you do overshadows all of that and when things start coming your way it's nice to have earned every piece of it. It's surely the most obvious but if we had a a money tree things would always have been way easier, maybe too easy?

What’s coming next from you that we should be on the look-out for? Tours, videos, new albums?

We've been going hard for a few months on the touring and show schedule. The six month plan is to do a small handful of special hometown and regional shows, and make our next record starting in november which we're insanely excited about. Being that the band has changed so much, we all feel it's finally where it should've always been and we're going to treat this like our first real record. We're going to take a lot of time to make the absolute best thing we can and see where we can go with it. In March will be our next big tour, connected to SXSW, with a bunch of southeastern and possibly midwest dates. We're also starting a video series, where every sunday afternoon we'll be releasing a song from a live in-studio session we did last week, some will be old songs, some will be new, some will be in the studio, some will be on the street. But we're going to have these "episodes" during our whole record making process to keep getting new things coming out every week.