May
13

Leroy Virgil of Hellbound Glory Talks “LV” EP & More

May 13, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  20 Comments

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Reno’s Hellbound Glory has just released a new 5-song EP called LV, named for the initials of lead singer and songwriter Leroy Virgil. The album was recorded in and partially inspired by Leroy’s hometown of Aberdeen, Washington, and marks the first new music from Leroy and Hellbound Glory in nearly three years.

On the occasion of the new release I gave Leroy a call and spoke to him about the new EP, another EP he has coming out July 3rd called Folk Hero, and what opening for Kid Rock on an arena tour did for his career.

“It’s about a hour-and-a-half outside of Reno on the Gardnerville side, through Gardnerville, then you take 88 up into the mountains,” Leroy tells me about the place he’s living now ouside of Reno. “Just a little town, out kinda in the middle of nowhere. I’ve got a really great view. Hardly anyone lives around me. Just a really secluded little place out in the woods, which is cool by me. I’ve lived up here for about a year.

“Obviously I spend a lot of time out on the road. But my wife and I moved up here to be closer to her family. Just wanted a place where my kid could play out in the woods. The area we can afford to live in Reno was getting a little bit rough. So this was good for the family. My boy is great. He’s a big boy. He knows my music, loves music in general. He’s my biggest fan, and I’m his biggest fan too. Since he’s been born I’ve been stealing material from him.”

Tell us about this new EP you’ve got out, LV.

Last Halloween I wrote this song called “Streets of Aberdeen”. It literally took me like a half hour to put it all together. I wrote it, and later that night I posted it on the internet to share it, and as I started playing it more, I thought, “this has some potential.” I got a hold of an old friend of mine back in Aberdeen that I used to record with when I was a teenager who has a studio there. I just said, “Hey, would you be interested in hitting the studio together?” He’d been out of commission for a while, but he got it all set up. If you’ve heard the song, the storyline’s about an infamous murderer back there in Aberdeen. And the place I recorded it—and this is completely random, none of this was on purpose—but the actual studio is an old union building where Billy Gohl murdered all these people at. That just happens to be where the studio happens to be. So I wrote this song, and I kind of knew in the back of my mind that the studio was in the same place, but the song is about it, and it’s recorded right there. I don’t know, I just thought it was something kind of cool. I’d always heard the story when I was a kid and it was stuck in my brain. It makes for a good story at the very least.

hellbound-glory-lvThe EP is all tape, all analog studio, and he hadn’t been recording for about ten years or so. So it’s old tape equipment before they started using Pro Tools and stuff. There’s no computers in the whole entire office. And I went there and did a couple of songs with Adam whose playing bass for me, and Marty Chandler who plays guitar for the Supersuckers. They play on a few of the songs, and then the rest of the songs I just did by myself as kind of a one man band.

The “Streets of Aberdeen” song, I tried to get it recorded for a couple of sessions, and it just wasn’t coming together. It got to be one of the last days, and I knew Bryan [the engineer] had to head off to some dance thing for his wife. It got to about four o’clock and he had to be gone by five, so I just tuned the guitar down and started strumming something and I came up with this chord. And after a bunch of tries earlier, I found the right chord, I found the right tempo, and I recorded everything on the song in about an hour.

Tell us about your history with Aberdeen. Hellboud Glory is so synonymous with Reno, but I know that’s the area you’re from.

My mom moved to Aberdeen when I was about three. She met my step dad out there and I lived out there for the most part, with the exception of a couple months here and there when I would visit my real father who lived in Sun Valley, right outside of Reno. So I bounced back and forth between the two places quite a bit. At about 21, I decided to move out of Aberdeen because I wanted to go to Reno to become a big star (laughing). That’s a joke. Nobody moves to Reno to become a big star. But I moved to Reno to pursue music a little bit, and to get to know my dad. But yeah, I grew up in Aberdeen. I grew up on an oyster farm just outside of town, but I also spent a lot of time hanging out in the downtown area with street kids.

And Aberdeen is a strange town because I don’t know that traditionally you would call it a music town, but there’s all this musical history swirling around the area out there.

Metal Church is from out there, which actually Brian Smith who recorded this EP has some ties to. The Melvins are from out there. And of course Nirvana and Kurt Cobain are from Aberdeen as well. There’s definitely something in the water out there I’d say.

So why release a 5-song EP now instead of a full album a later? Do you consider this somewhat of a concept album because it’s so tied to this location?

There would be more songs if I had more songs that I’d recorded. I’ve got to say that LV is the first thing I’ve put out where I’m happy with every single one of the songs. The versions are definitive versions of these songs. Some of the past projects, I’d put twelve songs on it and there would be three or four songs where it was a good song, but I just wasn’t quite happy with the way it turned out, but I put it on there just because I wanted to get the song out. This was the first time I didn’t make concessions to time or anything.

I’ve got another 5-song EP in the can that I’ll be putting out July 3rd. It’s going to be called Folk Hero. It’s going to be a political album. A lot of the songs people have probably heard and there’s a couple of cover songs. It’s more electric than the stuff I have doing with the Aberdeen sessions. It’s a little bit more like what our live show is going to be like. It was recorded out in Detroit.

The “LV” of the EP is for your initials. How much is this LV EP Hellbound Glory, and how much of it is it Leroy Virgil?

I started Hellbound Glory more than ten years ago back in Reno. Hellbound Glory has always been my thing. It’s always been less of a band, and more of a gang. People come and people go, and people come back. Because I recorded this EP back in Aberdeen, and I recorded a lot of it by myself, it is a little bit more of a pure expression of just me. I really put a lot of myself onto the tape with it. Just trying to capture more where I’m from as opposed to where the band is from.

Have you thought about just going under the Leroy Virgil name?

I’ve actually considered it a lot. We’ve talked about it, but there’s so much momentum going with Hellbound Glory and I’ve got so many years of work into it. Within a week or two of moving to Reno, I’d written the song and turned it into a band name. So it’s been something I’m stuck with. Part of me would like a change. But it’s a great band name when you think about it. It’s good and evil, heaven and hell. As I’ve changed lineups, I’ve always called the band something different. For a while we were the Excavators, for a while I was calling it the Damaged Good Ol’ Boys, for a while to was the Damn Seagulls, so it’s always kind of changing up for me. I could see a day when it is called Leroy & Hellbound Glory, or whatever. I have no shortage of good band names. I want people to connect with the songs rather than the band name.

Every time I bring up Hellbound Glory, people ask me what’s going on with those Shooter Jennings sessions that you did out in Nashville. Is it coming in the future, is it sort of in limbo?

You know, I’d say it will probably be out someday. To be honest with you, I didn’t really bring it to the recording sessions. A lot of the songs I hadn’t finished yet, I don’t think. And we were just really limited on time. I’ve heard them, and Shooter did a great job, it was just I didn’t do that great of a job. We drove three days and showed up at noon and started playing. We really partied pretty hard. And you know, I don’t regret doing it because it made the songs better. But I just wasn’t too stoked about what got laid to tape. I love Shooter to death and I wish it would have worked out, but the songs weren’t done yet. There were lyrics on it that were half cooked. I didn’t sing all that great. But I’m looking forward to working with Shooter again. We’ve actually talked about getting back into this studio in Aberdeen.

How much does it concern you that you have songs out there that you’ve created, and maybe you get tired of them, or maybe you’re working on them, and that maybe they’ll get lost?

I’m not afraid of that at all. I like my songs. I’ve got five new ones that I’m polishing up right now. For me, I don’t want to force it in the studio. All of those songs I recorded with Shooter, they’re not off the table. I’m not going to put them out until I’ve got the right groove for them. I’m going to keep on trying. I’m always working on them. I’m still planning to get them out because I like them. I think they’re great songs.

What kind of impact did the Kid Rock tour have on your career?

It put me on stage in front of a bunch of people, and I learned a whole shitload just being around the guy. I don’t know. My life has completely changed since I went on that tour. People may not be able to see it. We’re not selling out big places or nothing. But I’ve got a nice new van, recording in a nice studio. I’ve got a really good booking agent. I don’t know. Every interaction I had with Kid Rock, I learned something. He didn’t make me an overnight sensation, but he definitely put me on the radar.

Preview & Purchase Tracks to Hellbound Glory’s LV

20 Comments to “Leroy Virgil of Hellbound Glory Talks “LV” EP & More”

  • Really liking ‘Streets Of Aberdeen’ and it’s cool that they shot at least some of the video there as well. It’s great that Leroy Virgil seems to have positive feeling about the harbor as opposed to Cobain who hated it and made no secret about it.

    Growing up on the Harbor as many locals call it (Aberdeen is on Grays Harbor) in the seventies and eighties like I did we could have never imagined the impact that it would make in the music world and it’s still bizarre to me that it has.

    Looking forward to listening to the rest of LV.

       3 likes

  • Thanks for that. Got the new EP today, not sure how I feel about it as a whole yet, other than I wish it were longer haha..

    I know I read on here somewhere you don’t review EPs, you think you might bend the rules for this one?

       0 likes

    • I’m planning to do a review for this seeing my history of covering Hellbound Glory, and because I feel like Leroy is one of the most important songwriters of our generation.

         7 likes

  • Leroy seems different after the kid rock tour. Sure don’t sound like that hellbound glory in some beat up old honky tonk anymore. Maybe he needs the old band still or maybe he seems like a burnt out guy still holding on to that faded worn out piece of a memory. Good kid rock tried to help him out but I still missed it when kid rock didn’t influence him .

       3 likes

    • I hear absolutely nothing indicative of Kid Rock on this EP. In fact, it’s stripped down nature could be argued is a polar opposite of Kid Rock. Blaming Kid Rock for the sound of Hellbound Glory just because they were on tour with him for a while is kind of like blaming the President because you lost your job. You can’t take one big copy point and apply it globally to everything Hellbound Glory does henceforth. Each show, song, album, and band lineup deserves to be judged on their own merit. Just because Jamey Johnson wrote “Honky Tonk Badonka Donk” doesn’t mean “In Color” wasn’t badass.

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      • I was referring to his live performances not this recent EP. The last three i seen. Seems very different like it was influenced by someone else. I just put 2 to 2 together and figure it has to be his Kid Rock experience. Like dancing on stage and playing tasteless Nirvana covers. I heard only one new song material that was worthy of his last album. Im not hatting on him about it. It’s just a let down for me. He is just on a differ stage on his journey. I feel his new songs may sound differ with the same full band behind him too.

           1 likes

        • Hey, if there were some recent live performances that you felt weren’t up to snuff, that’s your opinion and I can respect that. Maybe Leroy didn’t feel they were up to snuff either because he was dealing with different players coming and going and was just trying to hold the thing together, I don’t know. The matter at hand though and what this entire interview was centered around was this EP, and so offering up opinions about a live show you didn’t like and dragging Kid Rock’s name into it when in all likelihood it has no reflection on this material seems a little unfair to me. Not that you opinions aren’t valid, I just would rather hear what you have to say about this EP, or at least the song and video that’s included.

          You said that he’s been playing Nirvana songs. Well as we find out in this interview Leroy is from the same small 17,000-person town as Kurt Cobain is. This year is also the 20th Anniversary of Cobain’s death. This is the type of insight that allows us to connect to these artists and understand them.

             1 likes

          • I like the song. Very deep lyrics. I was just reflecting that Leroy seems to be drifting farther from the original Hellbound Glory from the first 2 albums. It was some of the best outlaw country work ever. After watching Leroy perform 3 times in the last 6 months, I felt his music is drifting from that vision. That dude is one hell of a sponge when it comes to influences and I felt that the kid rock experience may lean him toward a rockin side rather than a country side. Not that he is becoming more like kid rock but that he is leaning toward a more rock hybrid country that I dont favor as much. I may just be paranoid but that’s the pattern i see. Leroy is leroy and has one hell of a story to tell. I just hate to see him tell it from a differ path than the one i been a fan of.

               2 likes

  • I like the fact he puts new music out when he thinks it sounds right instead of just putting it out to put new shit out.

       3 likes

  • Good interview, always like to hear what Leroy is doing and what’s next with Hellbound Glory. He is definitely one of my favorites.

    That July EP has me a little nervous though. If its a political album like he says that’s almost certainly going to derail his momentum. You have to be a rock solid established artist before you can start telling us common folk how we’re stupid and doing things wrong.

       0 likes

    • I have not heard the EP so I can’t say for sure, but when he says “political” you have to understand, this is Leroy’s definition of political. He’s got a couple of songs that touch on politics that I’ve heard, and really they should be characterized more as apolitical, badmouthing both sides in bouts of heady humor. IN fact one of Leroy’s songs inspired me to write an article called “Apolitical Country Songs To Help Survive The Political Season”

      http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/apolitical-country-songs-to-help-survive-the-political-season

         1 likes

  • Badass. I praise him for how he releases his music. Release the song to your own standards; make sure you’re pleased before doing so. Improves the quality of music. We would all prefer 6 badass songs over 6 badass 3 good and 3 questionable songs. I still want to believe that he will cross over and save country music. Will more than likely happen with his writing skills.

       0 likes

  • Good points made about releasing music HE deems worthy. A lot of guys in his shoes would fart into a microphone and release it if Shooter Jennings’ name could be attached to it.

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  • Thanks for the great interview. Love everything about Hellbound and Leroy. He is an amazing songwriter. We go see them every time They hit Ohio or Michigan. The first time I saw them was In Defiance, Ohio. Before the show Leroy and the guys stood out in front of the bar talking to Me and my friends for good amount of time. And from that point on he always makes it a point to hang out after every show. Which to me shows the character of this group, good guys doing what they love.

       1 likes

    • Before I even knew much about his music, that was what I like about Hank III. I saw him when he first started and he told the crowd to come over and talk to him after the show. He was signing stuff and I BS’d with him for 20 minutes.

         1 likes

  • Great interview. I’m glad to finally hear some new Hellbound Glory material after something like 3 years with only random singles and covers. Not that those weren’t good but I’m stoked that Leroy is putting out more full releases. I’m particularly interested to hear the political EP. I don’t know if it counts as a “political” song but “World Coming To An End” (at least that’s what I think it’s called) is one hell of a song.

       0 likes

  • Just a question…I thought Leroy and had another lp of ‘political’ songs ready to be released this summer. Any idea what happened?

       0 likes

    • I don’t know anything definite, but I think there will be some Hellbound Glory news coming pretty soon.

         0 likes

  • Trigger…
    Just saw this on Hellbound’s homepage “Hellbound Glory RIP 10-31-2014″

    Any ideas–is it the end of the band? a show, a publicity stunt???

    Wondering if you have any more info….

       0 likes

    • I will probably address this at some point, but I also want to respect the band’s desire to make whatever announcement they want to make on their timetable and not jump the gun just to be first. I can tell you that I have talked to Leroy Virgil about it, and though I may have a little more insight into what’s going on, I really don’t have the full story, and sort of don’t want to know until they’re ready to tell it. I have been assured however that nobody’s died and everyone is fine.

         0 likes

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