Gallagher’s evolution: ‘Writes,’ ‘hooks’ and a lot of new music on the way
Since reaching the finals of “The Voice” in 2016 and moving to Nashville to chase his country music career, Josh Gallagher has picked up a whole new way of talking and working.
March is a big month for the 28-year-old Cresson native, who will perform ahead of country star Cole Swindell on March 13 at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial, then release a six-song EP two days later.
Gallagher has expanded his vocabulary – while generating lots of music – in a process he believes will give his fans a reason to get as excited as he is in 2019.
“I’ve been writing a lot over the past three years, and I was trying to eventually have enough songs to put out a record – music people haven’t heard,” Gallagher said from Nashville. “I need to put out some new music, give the fans what they want. People have been asking when I’m going to put out a new CD.”
That will happen in stages, he said. And rather than a full-length album, he will release a six-song extended-play set titled “Josh Gallagher” on March 15.
A second six-song EP titled “Boots Like Mine” will come out in the fall.
In between, his team will release three singles from the first EP – one in late spring, one in the summer and another in the early fall – then more singles after the second set is out.
Back in Cresson, Gallagher said, he wrote everything himself. Now in Nashville, he’s part of a team.
“When you write more, and when you write with better writers who you know are going to push you, that’s when you grow,” he said.
When Gallagher talks about songwriting, the lingo pours out:
• “Write” sessions – when collaborators get together in a room and share ideas with the goal of finding the pieces that will lead to a song.
“It’s such a cool process,” Gallagher said. “Sometimes you don’t know where it might go.
“You kind of sit there and (BS) back and forth and talk through the ideas. And nine times out of 10, when you’re busy (BS-ing), something will pop out of someone’s mouth, and someone else will say, ‘Hold on … What did you just say?’ ”
• “Hook book” – a “gigantic” list of song snippets and ideas that might turn into songs during those “Write” gatherings.
Gallagher’s “hook book” is saved on his phone.
Why “hook”? Gallagher said each small piece of a song needs to be good enough to hook the group, convince others that it should be saved and included.
He said when a quality “hook” emerges from the brainstorming, “you get some direction, maybe try to write the chorus.”
The process is sometimes a free-for-all that leads to consensus.
“We’ll work with guitar licks on the fly,” Gallagher said, “or guitar licks or chord progressions saved on the phone.”
• “Set-up” – a piece of an emerging song that guides the listener into the next passage.
He said these points become crucial to developing a song that flows – from verse to chorus, or chorus to bridge.
In one late-2018 “Write” session, Gallagher said, he started playing a series of notes on the guitar. That became a “hook,” and someone else suggested a “set-up” – and soon a song emerged.
Gallagher said that song will be on his second EP this year – “But I can’t tell you what it’s called. That’s a secret. Ha!”
Both sets of songs will be available for purchase on compact disc through Gallagher’s website – jgmusic.net – or on platforms such as iTunes, Spotify and Apple Music.
Gallagher said fans will hear his progression as a songwriter – and collaborator.
He often helps other artists create their own songs.
“When I got here, I had to learn how to be a good co-writer, learn how to read a room,” he said. “When you get into a room with a couple of writers, the room will tell you where to go with it. I’ve learned to listen to the others and adapt to different writing styles.
“I’ve been constantly learning – there’s new stuff every day.”
And when all of those “writes” and “hooks” and “set-ups” produce a collection of songs, Gallagher gets to experience his other passion: performing.
“It’s all about getting it done and out there for people,” he said, “so they can download it and hear it and come to our shows and be singing it right back at us.”