Leroy Virgil of Hellbound Glory wanted to write a song about his hometown of Aberdeen, Wash., but one that took the opposite approach of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “American,” which pokes fun of Aberdeen.
“I thought it was cool that people in Aberdeen could embrace people making fun of them, but I wanted to write another song from the point of view of someone actually from Aberdeen,” Virgil tells CMT Edge. “So I came up with the song title ‘Streets of Aberdeen,’ and I started thinking of the idea of the haunted river, and it just came to me.”
That haunted river is the Wishkah, which is tied to two local legends. First is Billy Gohl, a serial killer in the early 1900s who robbed and murdered transient sailors and disposed of their bodies in the river. The other is Kurt Cobain, whose fans still make pilgrimages to the bridges of the Wishkah to pay respects in his hometown.
“Streets of Aberdeen” is the lead track to a new Hellbound Glory EP, titled LV, that will be released May 13. Describing the new music, Virgil says, “It’s a little more stripped-down and acoustic just because that’s what I wanted to do with this song. I would say it’s a little bit deeper than some of my old stuff.”
(More EPs are on the way, with a loud and rowdy one set for July 3 and possibly another in the fall.)
Although he now lives in Reno, Nev., Virgil recorded LV in Aberdeen. Coincidentally, the recording studio is located in the former sailor’s union building where Gohl killed his victims. Most of the scenes in the video for “Streets of Aberdeen” were shot there, too.
“I don’t believe in ghosts or anything like that, and I’m not really into the supernatural. I just wanted to write a song. But if you listen closely, there’s some strange stuff in the background,” Virgil says of the audio track.
The LV EP also includes “Just a Shell” (a.k.a. “A Shell of a Hell of a Man”), which Hellbound Glory fans have been requesting for a while, as well as a catchy country song called “So Nervous, No Service,” inspired by growing up in Aberdeen. The collection concludes with “Goodnight, Irene” by Lead Belly, one of Cobain’s favorite musicians.
“If the river could sing a song, it would probably be that song,” Virgil says. “It’s so morbid and dark.”
Here’s the CMT Edge premiere of Hellbound Glory’s video, “Streets of Aberdeen.”