Sony Music Nashville newcomer Ben Gallaher likely looks at a can of chicken noodle soup a little bit different than other musicians. The Pennsylvania native tells Sounds Like Nashville that the iconic red and white Campbell’s Soup cans rank pretty high in his first musical memories.
“I started playing drums before I started playing guitar. I started on Campbell’s Soup Cans,” the singer said with a smile. “I’d sit on the counter, just going away on them, so my folks got me a drum set. At about five or six, I turned to the guitar. It just fit me, there was something about it. I feel like I didn’t have a choice. I was just going to play music. It was the perfect fit for me, and that was it. I grew up on 90s country, so from an early age, I got the bug – and was hooked.”
His love of that style of country is very apparent when listening to his debut five-song EP, available now. Gallaher had over one hundred and fifty songs from which to choose for his first project, including some collaborations with top tunesmiths such as Jimmy Yeary, Ben Hayslip, and Brett Beavers. He says that getting to learn his craft from some of the format’s finest has been a blessing.
“I have so much respect for the entire Nashville writing community of songwriters. It all starts with a song. The writing community has been so good to me. I’ve learned so much by writing with these guys. I grew up listening to their songs, and we have become friends. Just from being in the same room with those guys, you learn so much each time that you go in. I’ve had a blast getting to write with them and get to know them. They have been very good to me, especially in writing for this project.”
The singer says that getting to hear some of the stories that inspired them to write hits for the artists who inspired him has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“I can vividly remember different situations or things that I was going through when I would listen to their songs. That’s the craziest thing. I could tell you several examples of the first time I heard many of their songs or a song helped me get through this or that. Take Neil Thrasher, who’s written a lot of the Jason Aldean songs. I can remember periods of my life where I would be playing these songs over and over again. To meet him, write with him, become friends, and get to hang – that’s a really cool thing.”
One of the highlight tracks on the EP is “American Angel,” which Gallaher says was inspired by someone very special to him. “When I was writing that one, I was thinking about my wife. She’s got a white bandana, sunglasses, and the whole deal. I was definitely pulling from a personal side there. When I write songs, I pull from a lot of personal stuff, but also some things that I may not be going through at that exact time, but I try to put myself in that situation as if I was going through that.”
The anthem “Good Guys Win” was one track from the EP that he didn’t have a hand in writing, but admits he was hooked immediately. “The first time I heard it, it just drew me in. Its about the underdog. Every now and then, the good guys win. I’m from Pennsylvania, and it talks about a steel mill worker in the first verse, so I was hooked right there.” He’s quick to point out, however, that there is more to his state than large cities and manufacturing plants – there is a lot of rural area in the Keystone State. “There’s a lot of big country up in Pennsylvania. You have the mountains. It’s not all Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Its really beautiful – especially this time of year.”
Gallaher is out on the road, bringing his music to a larger audience. He’s played several dates as of late with Southern Rock giants Lynyrd Skynyrd. “We’ve been out with them a handful of times, and it’s been really cool. It all goes together. The EP is rock and roll country – very guitar driven and heavy in that sense. We’re having a blast out on the road, that’s for sure.”
He’s also enjoying being the latest signee of Randy Goodman to the Sony family, though he is still getting used to the idea. “To be honest with you, that feeling is still sinking in. Sony, of course, has the best genes. I’m blessed to be working with such a wonderful team over there, and there is such a great energy about it. There’s no place I’d rather be.”