“I’ll be eternally grateful for Kid Rock,” says Leroy Virgil of country rock band Hellbound Glory, while speaking over the phone from the bright light city of Manhattan, clear across the country from his home base—the Biggest Little City.
While Virgil and his band mates have been on the road since they left Reno the beginning of August touring with fellow country rockers Supersuckers, it’s the infamously controversial Kid Rock who garnishes the most gratitude from Virgil—and with good reason. After the band’s current manager, who formerly worked with Kid Rock, played the country rock singer Hellbound Glory’s music, he invited them out to play on his cruise ship, which later led to a three-month tour as his opening act, along with a Detroit date later in the year at a show that also featured ZZ Top.
“For some reason he liked my crazy music,” Virgil says. “He really liked the words and where we’re coming from.”
Going hand-in-hand with shared musical tastes comes similar personality traits—meaning brutally honest, if not somewhat brash, tendencies which generally don’t mesh so well together, think two negative magnet sides repelling each another’s energy when pushed together.
“He’s just like you would imagine him to be, kinda a dick but in a good way,” says Virgil. “I wouldn’t say we get along, but we’ve got a good rap going back and forth.” Virgil then gets sidetracked into an argument with someone on his side of the line over points of destination, then transitioning back into the conversation.
As for the Supersuckers, that touring relationship has been smoother sailing. The collaboration which happened thanks to Hellbound Glory’s manager’s ties once again—this time to the Supersuckers’ manager—is a perfect match in regard to musical style and collaboration.
“It’s been a good fit, and I’ve been a fan of theirs since I was a teenager,” Virgil says. “I’ve got the Supersuckers’ guitar player playing guitar for me now too, so we’re sharing musicians.”
Virgil’s self-described dream is to “become a star.” This goal brought him to Reno initially back in 2002 from a small town in Washington. But being on the road is not always easy. The lifestyle involved with touring, living out of a van for months on end, can take a toll if the homesick bug settles in.
“I consider my band co-workers, not my family—my family is my family,” Virgil says in regards to whether or not a close-knit group of traveling partners can help to ease the homesickness. “We’re all out here working together on this project, but there’s a lot of dealing with personality conflicts. … It’s difficult keeping the band together, it’s like being a human resource manager.”
Virgil is the sole original member of Hellbound Glory, which he started the very day he moved to Reno. But he continues to work hard at keeping both the band and his transplanted Reno roots vital.
“Reno’s my home,” Virgil says. “If you listen to my music, you’ll hear the Reno influences. It’s influenced by the Reno nightlife, experiences I’ve had, women I’ve met, fights I’ve gotten into—the local bar scene in general. The Hideout, Shea’s, Davidson’s Distillery—they’ve all been a big influence. They’re Reno.”
And while being on the road has exposed the band to many new faces and places, traveling has only furthered Virgil’s strong sense of hometown pride.
“I’m looking forward to the big homecoming show,” Virgil concedes. “I just want people to know I love Reno and I miss it, even my enemies.”