Music interview: Leeds singer-songwriter Rob Galloway

Rob Galloway with Barbara Pugliese
Rob Galloway with Barbara Pugliese
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For the past decade Rob Galloway has been lead singer with Leeds punk rock ’n’ roll band The Yalla Yallas. This month he’s branching out with his first solo album, Reflections.

“It’s a side project,” says the 33-year-old. “I’ve always done acoustic shows alongside the punk shows but I wanted to do something different, something of a gentler, more serious nature than the punk rock, less political, more accessible.”

It also has a distinctly personal side. “It’s all right doing all the punk songs, being energetic, but I wanted to do something a bit more tender, a bit more honest, and a bit more reflective of who I am.”

The songs represent different people in Galloway’s life. “They represent friendships, relationships, past relationships, the idea of a relationship, looking forward.

“There are 11 songs on there and there are probably 50 or 60 people in there, looking at all the relationships I’ve been in, the decisions I’ve made, good and bad, and sort of getting it off my chest.”

The catalyst for this record, he says, was his divorce. “I came out of a marriage and I started looking back at everything, looking at past relationships and how I form new relationships, and I just started thinking about that more, writing these more reflective songs rather than the punk songs.

“There are about two or three songs that I’ve either done with The Yalla Yallas or I’m planning to cross over and do punk versions. I try to keep it separate but there are some songs that naturally cross over.”

Will Grinder from The Yalla Yallas plays guitar and banjo on Reflections and there a host of guest musicians from fellow Leeds bands.

“I’ve got Sam Thornton and Adam Richards from King Zepha – I went to school with Sam and I’ve known him all my life and he’s a lovely man. I wanted to get people I know to come in and do the job, who knew music and knew me and Sam and Adam are perfect for that. There’s many a time where one of us is doing a show in Leeds, whether it’s their band or my band, and we’ll all end up jamming and playing together. We’re no strangers in making music together, I had to get those guys involved.

“That’s the same with Keiran O’Malley on violin. He’s in about 30 Leeds bands, he plays in every band that he can get his hands on. I wanted people that could do me a favour.”

The lead single, Burned, is a duet with Barbara Pugliese from London gipsy-folk band Barbarella’s Bang Bang. The pair met at Glastonbury festival where they were both performing.

“We were both playing on the same stage and I was watching Barbara play before I went on,” says Galloway. “I was sat there with my friend and I was like, ‘Wow, have you heard her voice?’ I need to meet this woman. So I went and had a chat with her and we became friends. I went to see her band play in London and we were talking late into the night and I wrote this song for her and about her and about myself for us both to sing.

“We’ve both gone on and had separate relationships but both of us felt like we were in the same place at the same time and weren’t sure about being in relationships ever again. Most love songs are about unrequited love but I thought what if you’ve got two people who might work together but they’ve both been through the same past experiences and are thinking ‘I wish I could love you and you could love me too’, that Romeo and Juliet sort of scenario as well, and she was ideal for it.”

The album is available now on vinyl, CD and digital download from http://www.robgalloway.co.uk or from Jumbo and Crash Records in Leeds.

Galloway hopes to play a special show in Leeds later in the year with all the musicians who played on the record. “I think that’ll be a really nice event to do,” he says.

In the meantime The Yalla Yallas are playing at the relaunched Trapdoor rock night at Bradford University on Saturday May 28.

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