Flint’s own hard rock band Lordd Virgil are in the process of working on the release of their third album which will feature their current Youtube hit “Flint Michigan”.
The song’s video quickly resonated with Flint locals as a anthem that speaks to the plight of Flint and has since become a anthem that has reached out to over 25,000 online viewers in over 46 countries.
MTV has Lordd Virgil’s video on their radar and the network is watching as the video continues to build momentum, increase plays and attract fans.
Have the old days of submitting music to A&R reps gone by the wayside in favor of tracking plays via You Tube and other social media outlets?
“Absolutely,” says rocker Lordd Virgil. “The industry is definitely looking to this new model to discover new stars like Justin Bieber. It makes sense because outlets like You Tube, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter will immediately show how popular a song is with its audience.”
The song, written by Lordd Virgil frontman Virgil Brewer, was inspired by the funeral of his musical mentor and local legend Gary Buckner in 2008.
The song speaks in detail about Brewer’s realization that he has more family and friends buried than above the ground and the comparison with the decline of Flint and the State of Michigan in general with the downturn in the economy.
The song’s video features a number of iconic images, many of which have decayed over the years.
Despite the stark imagery, the song is a testament to the city that Brewer loves and has pride in.
Last Sunday, Lordd Virgil opened at The Ritz in Detroit for Tennessee rock band Sore Eyes. The show fell during the first big Michigan snow storm of the year.
On Monday afternoon, I got a chance to speak with Brewer about the song, the new album and everything Michigan:
Q: How did the show go last night at The Ritz?
A: It went well considering that there was a light crowd due to the snowstorm. Some fans did make it out and others didn’t but my thought is if the headliner is there I’m there.
Q: Sore Eyes was the headliner?
A: Sore Eyes was the headliner and they were absolutely fantastic! They did a great job and you could tell that they’d been on the road for ahwile and they were really good guys. They were very nice to us and very generous with their time and their space and they played a fantastic set. They seemed very impressed with us so that was good too.
Q: How did your set go?
A: Our set went great. I mean people really responded to it well. We had a great response to it from the people who were there. From the brave souls who actually trenched through the tundra; the first snowstorm of the year. That’s rock and roll: rain or shine we’re there. When you grow up in Michigan we get used to it. There have been years when we’ve seen much worse. Detroit is a great place to play though. It’s Detroit Rock City for a reason. There are so many great bands that have come from there and it’s always nice to play in that area. When you’re playing there you have big shoes to fill. There’s quite a legacy with Alice Cooper and Bob Seger and Kid Rock. When you’re in Detroit you better be on your game. People seemed to think we brought it well. The thing is that Lordd Virgil is the band that I’ll never get to see.
Q: The Ritz is a great rock venue.
A: It really is. It’s a really well put together stage. The layout is great. Loading is nice and easy. I mean it’s always nice when the loading door is in close proximity to the stage and that’s not always the case. You find sometimes the loading door will be on the other side of the building and then people are having pizza and you’re having to say excuse me and get the instruments in. We had a great time at The Ritz and are looking forward to coming back as soon as we can hopefully with better weather.
Q: Do you any more dates coming up?
A: We have our next show in Bay City. We’re taking off about the next ten days for the holiday and then our next show is at the Prime Event Center opening for Sponge. That’ll be on January 22 and we’re very excited. We’re also playing a Valentine’s Day show which I believe is hooked in with Flint’s Banana 101.5 in Fenton at MoDoggies on February 12. MoDoggies is a much smaller club but a very important one. There’s a real cool vibe there and it’s one of those secret rock and roll locations. There have been a lot of great bands who have played there. Most recently it was Frequency 54 and Konniption Fit and it’s a real neat club to start up and when your business gets bigger to come back and say thank you to the club owners and play a show.
Q: I’ve been spending a lot of time out in Flint at the Machine Shop but haven’t had a chance to check out any of the other local venues.
A: Other than the Machine Shop Flint has always had a great history of wonderful music. Starting with Grand Funk Railroad and continuing on there was a great punk scene in the eighties and nineties down at the Capitol Theater and other places but due to the economic strife most of the clubs have closed so a lot of the Flint talent has to go to Detroit or Grand Rapids. That’s much like the people who have to leave town to work.
Q: Many bands are leaving the Detroit area off of their tours all together.
A: Yeah and I wonder why that is. Some of the national acts are leaving Detroit off the roster maybe because of the economic hard times. They’re afraid that they may not be able to sell tickets. But with Kid Rock selling out Ford Field in minutes and with KISS selling out there at the beginning of their tour I don’t see that there should be a worry. I mean this is the home of MC5 and Iggy Pop. This is great stuff. We understand that times are tough so when we come out on stage we definitely give people their money’s worth. We got a comment today on your article you recently did on us that is now up on Yahoo Buzz!. The comment was something to the effect of they braved the snowstorm to come out and see us and they were very, very happy they did. Boy that makes you feel like you did your job. A lot of bands that we’ve played with in the past year or so seem like they’re on stage primarily for themselves and we’re always on stage to be the band that we’d want to see. These are the things we learned from our influences like KISS and Alice Cooper and Queen. There are also some of the newer bands like Buckcherry and American Bang and even Sore Eyes who adopt that thought process of we’re here for the people. We want to give it a 110% so they get their money’s worth. That’s because they’re hard working people and that’s what they deserve. That’s something that’s been the backbone of the Detroit and Michigan scene for as far as I can remember.
Q: Is there a particular venue that you enjoy playing the most?
A: Wow that was a subject that just came up about how many great venues there are in Michigan. We have some of the greatest clubs in the business. When you start looking at Harpos and Planet Rock and St. Andrews Hall, the Emerald Theatre, the Detroit Fillmore, The Ritz, and New York New York, they are wonderful venues to play. We’d like to go out and explore other states and city venues. We want to see those people from Philadelphia and Austin and Albuquerque and Sacramento. We’ll play anywhere, anytime.
Q: How would you describe your music?
A: That’s a difficult one for me because you’re like the painter in when you’re finished with it you only see the stroke of paint. I really like to let other people define what it sounds like and I find that people often tell us things that are very different. One person will say that it sounds like Alice Cooper and the next will say we sound like the Smithereens but when I ask them who their favorite band is the one who mentioned Alice Cooper will say they like them and the Smithereens person will choose them as their favorite so I guess we sound like your favorite band. We have a real crossover appeal. We find country fans and rock and metal fans . We find 12 year olds and 5 years old who like us. Basically it’s people who like good old fashioned ass kicking rock and roll. Some say we sound retro and others say that we sound like the next new sound.
Q: Did you perform some of the new songs last night?
A: Yeah actually we did a couple of tunes from our upcoming album even though last night was the premiere performance of our new drummer Oscar Gomez. It was his first show with us. He previously played in Jedi Mind Trip and Rev. Right Time and the First Cousins of Funk. He also played in a Detroit band called 4am. We’re real happy to have him and real lucky to have him. He played extremely well after four rehearsals. He’s a trained professional for sure and so when we went out we decided if he’s gonna learn the songs he might as well learn the new stuff too. We played “Flint MIchigan” and we also opened with a new song called “Get Down With It”.
Q: Do you have any idea when the album might be out?
A: As soon as humanly possible. Making a record is a very complicated situation. We want to make sure that we have the right studio and the right producer and the right material. We’re going through about 30 songs right now to whittle it down to the best of the best. That’s hard because the songs are like your children; some grow up and go off to college and some don’t. It’s really difficult to decide which ones get to live and which ones don’t. We’re looking at some studios and producers in Hollywood and some here at home. With the state of the music industry and economy we can’t afford to make another “good” album. We have to make a spectacular album or there’s really no point in doing it. We’ve raised the bar for ourselves higher than we ever have. We want to make the next Back In Black and Sgt. Pepper; that career making album.
Q: You self produced your first album. Do you see a big difference in that versus bringing in an outside producer?
A: I do. When you do it yourself there’s nobody to argue with. Some of the best collaborations come from those type of arguments. When you have Mick Jagger and Keith Richards pushing and pulling against each other or Lennon and McCartney. Having another set of ears and a vision of someone who isn’t so attached to the material can be great. If there is a mutual goal of the same sound I think you’ll find that an outside producer really helps.
Q: There is so much music out there do you find it hard to get people to pay attention to yours?
A: This isn’t the day and age where four guys can just go to the local pawn shop and pick up instruments and become famous. People are demanding excellence and that’s why we’re real lucky to be from a town like Flint. First of all there’s a great musical history and second of all the lack of jobs and the poverty derives excellence. It always has. That’s what drives people to become the Alice Coopers and the Iggy Pops and the Bob Segers of the industry. They have to; it’s a survival mechanism. It’s what drove U2 to become excellent out of Dublin or the Beatles out of Liverpool. It was desperation and desperation breeds the greatest music of all time. It has ever since Muddy Waters was playing the blues.
Q: There has been a lot of talk about the “Flint Michigan” song but why is the city so important to you?
A: It’s where I have a lot of family and friends buried in the ground and that’s where a lot of family and friends still live. It’s where I was born and raised. I saw in the media that they called Flint the epicenter of the recession and you know I thought what a way to kick a town when it’s down! They’re very quick to point out the most dangerous cities in the U.S. but not where the most opportunity is or where the jobs are. I thought that in this given situation it would be really nice if someone mentioned something about Flint that was positive and that was that I wouldn’t mind living there again which is the final line of the song. I’d like to bring it back to it’s heyday and it really only needs three things: jobs, jobs and jobs. This is a place that I’m proud of and why not bring light to the situation and show people what it’s all about.
Q: Obviously people wanted to hear it!
A: Yeah in numbers that we didn’t even think about. I was happy when views hit 200! It’s amazing. I went to a night club a few days ago and a guy walked up to me and said congratulations on your hit song. That was the first time in my entire life that I’d ever heard anything like that. He also thanked me because he was from Flint and he said thank you for writing a true, honest song about my hometown. We’re finding that there are a lot of people from Flint living in different parts of the country. I often wonder if it’s kind of a map of the mass exodus that happens when you shut down 80,000 jobs in a area; you have to go somewhere! My thought to these corporations from anywhere is to bring your jobs here. We made General Motors rich we’ll make you rich too! We have the greatest work force on planet Earth. We are proud people and we don’t want handouts or bailouts; we just want jobs. Just make sure you bring a dump truck for all of the applications!
Q: Will the rest of the album follow along the same lines?
A: The album is really going to be telling my story of who I am and about overcoming adversity in all sorts of life not just economically but in personal inner battles. Anytime you’re in a rock and roll band people are always going to tell you different things about how you should look like you need another guitar player or you should be older or younger. You really have to just stick to your guns. Kid Rock said it best: if it’s real they’ll feel it. So when I started writing songs for the album the rest of the band immediately fell in love with “Flint Michigan” and I told them don’t get too attached there’s much better material on the way. It was just a matter of me writing and being honest. That’s what song writers do; they try to dig deep and find the truth.
Q: People look for something real and different that stands out.
A: We know that people don’t just hear with their ears; they hear with their eyes as well. With Lordd Virgil it’s always been our philosophy that you got to have good songs. That’s where it all starts and you have to play them well. It’s rock and roll not rock and science. People want to see a visual spectacle as well as hearing something that is wonderful. That’s what we learned from Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop and that high energy is what we learned from Bob Seger and Grand Funk Railroad. Now we see that culminated and proven today in bands like Sponge and Kid Rock. People deserve more for their money because they’re working harder for it.
Q: Where do you see Lordd Virgil down the line?
A: Well you know we were just talking about this yesterday. There’s really only two things that a band is built for; making records and touring. Write great songs and then play them. That’s where we’re headed. We’re entertainers and sometimes accused of being more than that and rightfully so; we’re hams! Your parents always told you not to make spectacles of yourselves but that’s what we do!
Q: You feel that this is the album that will break you?
A: This is the album that has to. It’s not a matter of is it going to but it needs to. It absolutely is going to because I’m not going take no for an answer. This is not only going to be the beginning of a great career but it’s because of the desperation and the position that we’re all in that the stars are lining up. I can feel that this is going to be one of the great rock and roll albums of our time!