Allow me to introduce to you Toy Soldiers. As if I wasn’t already impressed by their music, after this interview, I would love to sit around a bon fire in Pennsylvania somewhere and cook s’mores with these folks just to listen to their adventures, none the less, attend their concerts. And good thing! Toy Soldiers are playing in Asheville, NC at the Lexington Ave. Brewery on August 4, 2010.
Below is a few of the select question and summarized answers.
1. Could you give me a background on your band?
Basically, in short, the band began as just two of us (building caastleees in the skyyy). Me (Ron Gallo) and my long-time friend Mike Baurer. One day in September of 2007 we were just sitting around and decided to write some really inappropriate joke songs and record them on the internal microphone of my computer. It was around this same time I had started to delve really deep into American Roots music. We decided to give up the joking for a bit and try out a real song of mine. It was a sort of an odd take on a blues song, and all of the sudden, I was singing and playing the guitar in a way I never had before. We had this new door open up and we just ran with it, not focusing too much on the detail but just getting across. “Throw Me Down”. That was the second song we came up with and we wrote while riding bikes almost three years ago.
Time came to make a real album. It was during this time I had called a bunch of talented friends of mine to come in and basically write whatever parts they wanted and play them on the record. After the sessions, they sort of just stuck around and we played our first show all together on May 9, 2009 with the big band.
Since then some people have come and gone. I wasn’t crazy about having this new band have to push a record they weren’t even on, and we had new songs. So, the new lineup recorded those, subtracted four old tracks from the original album and added the four new ones. And that is “Whisper” as we know it today.
That was in no way, shape, or form the short version. Haha.
2. What is it like working as such a large musical group? Does one person tend to take charge when writing lyrics or composing the music?
A lot of people tend to focus on the fact that the band is large. Right now, Toy Soldiers is a five-piece (Me, Dan, Noah, Bennett and Tom) and occasionally we are joined by Kate Foust (vocals), Vinchelle Woods (vocals) Garrett Smith (Washboard, Tambourine Man), Dominic Billett (piano, percussion, singing). We also have occasional horn players, etc.
As far as songwriting. I have written most of the Toy Soldiers songs as we know them today. The way it has gone thus far is whoever you hear singing lead on a song has written the lyrics and composed all of the music for that song. We haven’t focused too much on a more collaborative songwriting effort just yet.
3. Is there one song on the album that is particularly more fun to perform live?
When we play “The Turnaround,” I sort of do this obnoxious let loose belting falsetto operatic kind of singing that everyone always laughs about, but it’s fun for me. “Loaded on Sunday” is a real banger in the live show; it’s just really dirty and raucous, just like Dan who sings the shit of that song. “Hard Times” has consistently been everyones favorite song to play live, it’s always really high energy and we’ve thrown in some little things here and there that make it unique to every show.
Toy Soldiers will be playing in Asheville, NC at the Lexington Ave. Brewery on August 4, 2010 at 8 p.m. For their full tour schedule, check out their MySpace and their Facebook . While you’re there, make sure you listen to a track or two—you won’t be disappointed. Also, listen for them (or request them!) on 88.1 WKNC.