Showing posts with label Hellbound Glory. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hellbound Glory. Show all posts

Nov 23, 2022

Planes, Trains, & Automobiles Country Reaction Gifs 3

 Someday someone will make another good Thanksgiving movie, right?


Mom, why can't I wear my Dan + Shay t-shirt to school?

Cop: So you say it's a Whiskey Myers song's fault you were driving over the speed limit?

Before I hit play on a Lori McKenna song

I knew I shouldn't have played 49 Winchester when you handed me the aux cord

Still better than going to a Walker Hayes concert

The lyrics to a Hellbound Glory song, probably

Luke Combs, amazed he can keep putting out the same songs over and over and still get richer

When the bartender won't turn off the Luke Bryan

Oct 29, 2020

The Quirky Demise of Hellbound Glory

By Kevin Broughton

The report of my death was an exaggeration.

-- Samuel Clemens, May 31, 1897, London

We are mere journalists. We acted in good faith, relying on the reportage of one of the finest country music blogs, which sounded the alarm: Hellbound Glory is doomed yet again. Neon Leon is killing off this..whatever-it-is thing, and once more on Halloween. Just six years after he’d done it the first time.

The notion seemed so unfair. Hellbound Glory had just put out two stellar albums, with the help of Shooter Jennings’s picture-perfect production. Could this be happening again? We’ve chatted up the enigmatic Leroy Virgil twice, here and here, so surely we can clear this up. Right?

Yeah, sure. 

The suspect was last seen in Aberdeen, Wash., bound for Reno, Nev. Contact this site’s publisher with any clues. 

Okay, so you’ve done this once before. What gives, with snuffing out this band name again? 

Well, um, I didn’t really say we were snuffing out the band name; it’s more of a ritualistic killing of the Hellbound Glory myth. (Laughs)


Whatever “Hellbound Glory” is. 

So, “whatever it is” and “soon-to-be was” will be no more?

Well…I don’t know. We killed it off once, and it didn’t go anywhere. I don’t even know, man. I don’t have a plan, and I don’t even know what’s going to happen.

Um, okay. Let’s flesh this out with a few questions…

I’m making it up as I go along.

Fancy that.

Last time around, you even dumped your assumed name, Leroy, for your given one, Leon. At least for a little while. In fact, what should I be calling you right now? Do I have to change your contact info in my phone? 

(Laughs, hard) Well, I don’t know what your contact info says.

It says, “Leroy Virgil.”

Yeah, well, I’ve always liked “Leroy.” I picked that name. It’s a good one. I like “Virgil.” That was a name that was picked for me. And…my last name is “Bowers.”

I know. I remember all the sh*t you’ve said to me. I’ve recorded all of it, then written it down. 

For both Pinball and Pure Scum, “Hellbound Glory” was essentially you, a steel player sometimes named Rico, and Shooter’s band. Was that configuration just not getting it done, or is it just something about the name?

Well, you know, Rico had to go; he had a baby, and…

Yeah, he “knocked some chick up,” as you said last time…

…yeah, he had to go take care of that, and I’m not sure where he is right now. I did give him a van to live in. The Hellbound Glory van, in fact. I hope he’s doing okay; I haven’t heard from that dude in a long, long time. Last time I saw him, he was in Reno, trying to get out near Salt Lake City. 

Okay, but I don’t understand what it is you’re putting to death this time. Is it the “Hellbound Glory” name? Are you not gonna play with Shooter’s band anymore? 

Oh, no! I’m getting ready to make a record with Shooter’s band, just as soon as I can get in the studio. It’s the Hellbound Glory myth, or the Hellbound Glory spirit…whatever it is, we’re gonna kill it off on Halloween. And it’ll be back. Hellbound Glory will outlive all of them…All the big names in country music you hear about now, Hellbound Glory will be around long after they’re gone.

Um, okay. I’m trying to stick to my script here, which is always a bitch when I’m talking to you…

But we’re having fun, right? 

Oh, absolutely. Play a song for me.

Okay. I’ve been writing songs every day!

[Actually plays song.]

That’s pretty good. Your songwriting and vocal chops are right up there with your status as an agent of chaos and confusion. Care to comment?

Well, thank you very much. I put a lot of work into the last album, trying to get the vocals just right. I wasn’t born with the natural gift of a great voice, so I’ve really tried to work on it as much as I could…uh…yeah. I’m very proud of it. Thank you for saying that. 

But you do like to sow chaos and confusion? You’ve said as much before when we’ve talked. 

I just like to have fun. Always just smiling, and always having a good time. 

Uh-huh. So, when you say you’re going into the studio with Shooter’s band to make another record…can you just sorta tease out for us what the name will be on the album? Not the title of the album, but the name of the artist who’s making the record? 

(giggles) Hellbound Glory.

[Again, feeling like he’s been punk’d.] But you’re killing it off! 

It’ll be called “The Immortal Hellbound Glory.”

[Is quite sure of it, now.] Oooohhhh. Okay. 

Are you doing a ceremony again, with a coffin and sh*t, like last time? 

I don’t think…I don’t know. I might head up to Olympia (Wash.) Some friends up there are building a coffin. We might set it on fire, with a puppet in it. I haven’t decided yet; I don’t know. 

Kind of a spontaneous thing, I guess.  

So looking ahead to a 2021 we hope will be better than the current year, what’s next for Leroy Virgil/Leon V. Bowers/Neon Romilar?

Well, I think I want to get a podcast going. A Hellbound Glory podcast.


Yeah. Seems like a good medium to get into. 

All the cool kids are doing it. 

Yeah, you know. Talk about the band; talk about Hellbound Glory. The Hellbound Glory Podcast.

I’d listen. Of course, it might puzzle some people, what with the band name/myth getting snuffed Saturday night…

You know, I don’t mean to be confusing or conceited. It’s all in good fun. 


But I will tell you a story. Have I ever told you about where the name “Hellbound Glory” came from?

I’m quite sure you haven’t.

About two months before I moved to Reno, I had a dream. It was about a hell-bound train, and the train was called “Hellbound Glory.” Isn’t that great?

The story’s a little shorter than I anticipated, but I can absolutely see a big, coal-huffing train with the name “Hellbound Glory” painted across the engine, spewing black smoke. 

It’s great, right?


Damn right, it’s great, Leon. Sorry to hear about your soon-to-be-dead band. We only mentioned it eleventeen thousand times. Hellbound Glory is Dead. Long Live Hellbound Glory. 

Jun 1, 2020

Buckle Up: Time for a chat with Leroy Virgil

By Kevin Broughton

If Hellbound Glory’s Leroy Virgil were a pop-culture figure from the 1970s, he’d be Kool-Aid Man, bursting through brick walls or backyard fences and spreading his own weird brand of merriment. In the 2000s, he’d be a different LEEroy, sowing chaos and damning the consequences. In the 2010s, he’s the famous Honey Badger, because he just doesn’t give a…care.

And it’s precisely that “ZFG” attitude that makes him immune from convention and all its strictures, allowing him – along with alter-ego and producer Shooter Jennings – to make one of the best pure country music albums in years.

Following 2017’s Pinball, Virgil already had his next record (a “concept album,” though as we’ll see it’s a loose thing with him) in mind. In fact, Bird Dog was more than halfway written when Virgil and Jennings decided on a course correction spurred by Jennings’ hearing a demo for “Neon Leon.” Bird Dog would go to the back burner. It would take several more months of waiting on the producer’s schedule to free up, but the seeds of Pure Scum were germinating.

Even so, the time window would be tight. Like, three days, tight. They did it in two.

“Leroy’s diligence and patience are the biggest reasons,” Jennings says. “He waited to cut the record. We were planning to do it at the end of 2018, but he had to wait because I had all these other records and projects that were on deadline. We ended up not doing it until April (of last year), and because he had all this material, he just sat around singing and playing it. Just being Leroy.”

The result of Virgil’s just being himself is an album at times rollicking, other times poignant but always genuine and faithful to any objective standards of country music. His vocals continue to impress.

“In my opinion, he’s one of the greatest singers and songwriters in all of country music and has been for a long time,” says Jennings. “Leroy has stayed true to country music the whole f*cking way. I love the guy; he’s one of my best friends in the whole world. And honestly, he’s like MY hero. He’s what I wish I could be as a singer and a songwriter.”

High praise from country royalty. Let’s hear from the artist himself.

Ladies and gentlemen, Leroy Jenkins.

I mean VIRGIL Leroy Virgil…

Pure Scum is a really catchy title for your new album. I guess “Corona Virus” was taken?

Haha! That’s funny. Perfect timing, huh? I gave it that title about a year and a half or two years ago. But yeah, Haha. It just came to me: pure scum, old highs, new lows, damaged goods, hellbound glory.

“Ragged But Alright” is a nice sort of manifesto to kick the record off. The protagonist describes himself, among other things, as a degenerate gambler who’s drunk every night, a scumbag and a braggart. So how’s your self-esteem these days?

Oh, I’m finding new ways of being humble every day. I actually stole that song, to make it even more scummy.

Oh, really?

Yeah, it’s from the 1920s.

You’re making this sh*t up.

No, really. It’s an old hillbilly song that’s in the public domain, so I took it and re-wrote it. It’s fine.

Who did it originally?

Everybody. Jerry Lee did it. George Jones did it. I forget the guy’s name who did it originally. Who cares who wrote the song; it’s just one of those that’s out there.

How biographical is this album, and did your mom really call you “Neon Leon?”

Uh, yeah…believe it or not, my name was gonna be “Neon Romilar.”

Neon what??

Neon Romilar. It’s a kind of cough syrup.

Okay…did Mom sober up before she signed the birth certificate?

I’m not sure. It depends on who you talk to.

Um, so the album: Autobiographical?

Oh! Yeah, without a doubt. It’s, uh…how do I put it? A reflection of my general style. Yeah. Maybe not “autobiographical,” but it is my style.

You did an interview with Rolling Stone just before Pinball was released and said about the title cut, “To me, it’s a song about life, the chaos of life.” This album’s fairly chaotic, too. Agree?

Ah, let me think about that. I don’t know, it’s a concept album, man.

What’s the concept, other than general scuzziness?

I think people just have to try to figure that out for themselves. If you listen closely to the lyrics in the songs, I think you’ll hear some similar themes pop up. You know…if you keep listening, you’ll get the themes, the concept.

Well, it all seems to fit together quite nicely.

Great! It’s all I listen to.

In the same interview, you said, “By listening to the album, people are going to have no idea how I feel — and I don’t want them to know.” How did you feel when you were writing these songs?

How did I feel? Well…how was I feeling…

Pretty damn good, actually. Pretty happy. Having a damn good time.

When we talked a couple of years ago, you mentioned that you had a steel player named Rico. You strongly implied that he was an illegal alien. Yet I recently came across a video of you, Shooter, Jon Anderson and Kelli Pickler at the Cash Cabin, having a good ole time.  One of the players – lap steel – was identified as “Rico Peterson, Hellbound Glory.” I’m glad to see he wasn’t deported. I also note that “Peterson” isn’t a name typically associated with illegal border crossings. Do you have a new Rico? That would be a coincidence.

Now I’ve got a Chuck, and he’s from America.


Yeah. Utah, in fact.

Is Rico not a thing anymore?

You know, Rico’s…He had a baby. He knocked some chick up and he has a baby now.

An anchor baby?

[Giggles, hard] Yeah. It was time to get off the road for a while. Haha! An anchor baby! Ol’ Rico, you know, I wish him nothing but the best. I hope he’s found himself a place to post up and do whatever he does.

Shooter produced this album. Did he put the players together again, and where did y’all record?

We recorded it in Echo Park in Hollywood, California. And it’s just Shooter’s band. And that’s it.

It’s really well put together. How much of it did y’all record live?

You know what? Almost all of it. All of the vocals are live vocals. Almost all of the instrumentation. We did all of it in two days; two short days.

How much input did Shooter have about which tracks made the album?

Shooter was there as a guide. In fact, Shooter’s the guy who kicked off the idea for the album. I sent him the song “Neon Leon,” and he said, “This is better than what we’re doing for Bird Dog [an album that originally was to follow Pinball], so let’s go with this; let’s make something out of this song.”

So I just put it together. Wrote the songs – they all had the same theme – demo’d them, sent them to Shooter, sent them to the band. And we just pretty much played what was on the demos.

I don’t want to date you or anything, but you’ve got one of the best voices in all of country music. In a perfect world, several of the cuts on Pure Scum would be radio-worthy, but you might be a little rough around the edges for the mainstream. If you could pick one or two folks to cover your stuff and get it into the mainstream, who would they be? I know you’ve mentioned Kid Rock ought to cover some of your stuff…

Yeah, you know Kid Rock and I wrote a song together called “Why Can’t They All Be College Girls.”

Of course you did…

And you know, I think somebody like Josh Abbott could do that song really well. I’ve been trying to get him to cover “Why Can’t They All Be College Girls” for a while. The whole Red Dirt scene? They could all use some hellbound influence. I’d like to do another Tanya Tucker cut; that would be cool.

I guess Billy Ray Cyrus is the biggest thing going in country music right now.

Yeah? I guess I missed that memo.

You didn’t hear about this hit song he was on with Lil Nas X? “Old Town Road?”

No. And I can never tell whether you’re yanking my chain or not.

No, I’m telling you the truth! That is Billy Ray Cyrus! He is on that song.

I’m just spitballin’. I’d be interested in some other scenes…instead of just this Reno Scumbag scene.

“Scumbag.” Maybe that could be a sub-genre of outlaw country or something.

Hell, yeah, it already is!

Is anybody in that sub-genre besides you?

Yeah! There are differing aspects. I hear the scumbag influence in a lot of the bands coming around. But the Reno thing: We’re all about scum. There’s a professional wrestling tag team named The Reno Scum, and they’ve been around for like 20 years. Look ‘em up: “Reno Scum.”

I think I’ll be looking up a lot of things when I get off the phone with you.

It’s a real thing, dude. I promise. If you’re into wrestling.

I used to be. Is there a Reno rock scene, or a Reno music scene, other than you?

I’d say I’m definitely the biggest game in town, as far as bands go.

Do you have a regular gig, or a residency anywhere?

You know, I had a residency at a place called Davidson’s Distillery, and I’m sure I’ll be back there soon. But as far as the regular Thursday night deal, I haven’t done that in a while.

You know, the pantywaists who call themselves country artists love to sing about drinking beer in their trucks. I wonder if any of them would cover “DUI or Die?”

Well, somebody might actually die if they did.

Can you think of the exposure you’d get if Luke Bryan covered one of your songs?

I think that would be awesome. You know I think “No Service” would be a song that somebody could do really well. Are you familiar with that song?

I am not.

Look it up.  It’s on Streets of Aberdeen. If somebody took that song and changed the beat up…it’s got great lyrics. Look it up: “No Service.”

So what’s the first single gonna be?

“Damned Angel.”

Good song.

You know what? That one is a f*cking great song.

Well, don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back, there, Leroy.

Ha! It’s just a good melody.

Oh, I know. It reminded me of something from the Urban Cowboy soundtrack…


…just a very big, full, almost “country-politan.” A really good country love song.

You know, I’m almost certain that I ripped it off from somewhere; I’m still trying to figure out who I stole it from. But it seems like it had to have already been taken. You know what I mean? Doesn’t that melody sound like it might be another song?

It does! It reminds me of something, I just can’t tell what.

Me, too.

It’ll come to you when you get sued. When you read the summons, you’ll say, “Aw, yeah. That’s the song I couldn’t place!”

Bring it on, I say. If Led Zeppelin can get away with it, Hellbound Glory can.


Dec 22, 2017

Ten Best Songs of 2017: Another Perspective

The Best Songs of 2017 

By Kevin Broughton

Trailer’s list was okay, but just. It demands a response, so here are the ten best songs of 2017.

Good talk.

Come for the 1½-minute intro of standup bass, brushes & organ. 
Stay for the good-time rock, sassy-ass blues & rockabilly.

Sure, “White House Road” gets all the hype. For straight-up poignance, though, give me this as the best cut on the smash debut album Purgatory. Well, this one or “Lady May.”

The opening track on what I voted the No. 1 album of the year. The richness of this full-grown folk singer’s baritone speaks for itself and nearly defies substantive description. It simply is. PS, he’s 22 years old. I think we’re done here.

The best voice in all of country music.

On an album full of gems from some of the best musicians in Texas, here’s a real treat: an acoustic version of “Superstition,” featuring virtuoso pianist Daniel Creamer on vocals. It’s sublime.

Two years ago these guys had our album of the year, and Trailer in his autocratic grace declared, rightly, “The Bird Hunters” our top song. Which makes it so shocking he would put “Pay No Rent” (respectfully, maybe the third-best cut on FTM’s #2 Album of the Year) so high, to the exclusion of the clearly superior “The House Fire.” A disturbing lapse in judgment at best; one hopes there’s not a deeper character flaw in play.

“I heard the judge ask the jury, ‘which one’s the one to go?’ Then I heard them say my name, and why I’ll never know.” A song of guilt, forgiveness and redemption, from the point of view of the criminal pardoned while the Savior bought ours.  

Carve out some of that kindling. There’s plenty of wood around.

Pure, country authenticity. It tastes like honey.

“We could steal some Keystone Beer from an A-rab liquor store.”


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