Sit-down with Sammy Gallo of Brooklyn’s Industries of the Blind
Sammy Gallo has composed film scores, commercials, and currently spearheads Brooklyn’s up-and-coming post rock goliath, Industries of the Blind. Sammy’s flagship musical project is a nine-piece ensemble featuring a range of sounds from post rock to contemporary classical.
Industries of the Blind Presents: a Special Night of Music and Film will be their next performance at The Knitting Factory this Friday, December 21st at 8pm.
It started in Greensboro, NC, about nine years ago. It was a very different lineup then. Jamaal (violist) and myself are the only original members. We had a rotating cast of characters while we were there. Then we moved to New York in 2005 or 2006 with about half the band. It’s funny, we started adding more people to the band and we ended up getting a lot of people from North Carolina who happened to live here. Even now, one of the violinists who is playing in the show is the sixth violinist we’ve had. It’s hard to nail them down.
How did it grow to nine members?
I knew in the beginning that I wanted a string trio and guitar/bass/drums. So I had like five or six in mind. I was constantly looking for people to fill the quartet to create one big, massive sound. And then it went from one guitar/bass to two guitars to three guitars. Then we started adding keys just because – why not? In the beginning I wanted that many people for volume, and it has grown into more timbre and dynamics, anyhow. We still get insanely loud, but we have a lot of options to play with theme.
Your first release, Chapter 1, is presented as a narrative. Despite choosing not to include vocals or lyrics in this release, is there still a message, story, or theme that you try to communicate?
There is definitely an emotional arc or narrative, but I don’t want it to be a story that I am necessarily telling. I think more than anything else, we are trying to provide an arc that more people can identify with. Pop songs that are on the radio tell a lot about relationships and people say: “Oh, yeah, I can totally relate to that,” because they can hear the story. But they are relating to someone else’s story. I think without any words, if you create a powerful enough emotional arc and people can attach their own stories to it. Then it becomes more about what they have gone through instead of attaching themselves to fit whatever story I was going through when I wrote this. The audience can feel a stronger sense of ownership through the music.
On seeing Industries of the Blind live, I noticed the audience didn’t wait until the end of the song to cheer or applaud you. Has that been a pattern?
I guess so. That is sort of a new-ish thing. We have tried to set it up so that we are paying for some silence before we get to the end of the set, because there are some parts that really need quiet after some really loud parts. I think the people who come to our shows regularly know that.
Do you see an advantage in not having a front man for the audience to focus on?
Yeah, I feel like it is super important to not be a band of faces. I want them to not think about us and to think of the music itself. We have this lighting rig that I bought and have been rigging up. It’s like this old, 1940s movie lighting rig made of 300-400 watt bulbs. It’s insanely bright. I want to set up with the volume pedal and have us fully silhouetted. I still desire some sort of visual stimulation in our shows.
Industries of the Blind Presents: a Special Night of Music and Film is not only a concert, but a film screening. How did this come about?
I wanted to do a show like this for a while. And I had my eye on Glory at Sea because it is not only my favorite short film but easily one of my favorite pieces of film in general. A friend of mine who knew the film team gave me their contact information and they emailed me back immediately saying they were on-board for this project. This was before Beasts of the Southern Wild had a buzz, and a few weeks before it won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.
Do you consider yourself a movie buff or have a background in film?
I certainly have a love for film, having done film scores for friends in college. In general, I have a deep interest for storytelling. I think film and music are essentially part of the same thing when it comes to that.
You have composed two of the film scores that you will be playing at The Knitting Factory this Friday. Is the film-scoring process much different from creating a stand-alone musical composition?
Definitely, yes. With film-scoring, I have to try to figure out what the filmmaker was communicating and what the characters are going through. With writing my own music, the process is much more personal. Obviously your aesthetic and tendencies will show in a film score, but you are definitely stepping into elements outside of yourself.
Has vocalism in any form been ruled out for further Chapters?
Not entirely ruled out. I definitely don’t want lyrics, but I would love to do some sort of choir set up like Braveyoung & The Body.
Do you and many other members of the band share the same tastes in music?
The tastes of the band are wide and varied, but there are some common denominators. The usual indie rock and indie pop stuff; same goes for classical and post rock. Everyone has a lot of the same aesthetic tendencies.
Do you plan on doing any more film-related projects with Industries of the Blind?
Yeah, I am hoping the show goes well, and gets the attention of larger venues. We would like to do something like this again in a bigger theater.
Photo: Jenn De La Vega
For more information on Industries of the Blind Presents: a Special Night of Music and Film click here.
For more information on the band itself click here.