Rocker Lordd Virgil's video for their viral YouTube hit "Flint, Michigan", that has now been seen in 54 countries, is going global, but will fellow Flint native Michael Moore come to a show?
"We invite Mr. Moore to every one of our shows," says frontman Lordd Virgil, who was Michael Moore's paper boy years ago when the Oscar-winning director was shooting "Roger and Me", the now-iconic documentary about the plight of Flint.
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"He was kind enough to invite me to his premiere of "Roger and Me" back in the day and now we're returning the invitation. We always save a seat for him, just in case."
Meanwhile, thanks to social media outlets like YouTube, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, fans around the world are discovering the video for "Flint, Michigan."
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"The support has been overwhelming," Lordd Virgil said. "In the beginning, it was mainly people from Michigan, but now I'm hearing from fans everywhere about how the song feels familiar to their town too. People are adopting the song and it's becoming a soundtrack for many cities that have fallen into economic ruin."
The video is quickly resonating as an anthem that speaks not only to the dire economic situation in his hometown of Flint, Michigan, but cities nationwide. The song combines a nostalgic sadness for what Flint has been, a quiet resignation to the state of Flint today and a fatalistic acceptance that, no matter what, Virgil too will someday die there too.
The inspiration for the song came to Lordd Virgil when he attended the funeral for his musical mentor and local legend Gary Buckner in 2008. As Virgil followed in the funeral procession, he watched as the hearse drove down a street littered with dozens of huge potholes and heaving pieces of broken pavement.
"Cracked up pavement, cracked up sidewalk," the song would later begin.
Then, as Lordd Virgil continued to drive to the cemetery, he realized how sad it was that the dignity of a funeral procession, with a car that could have been built in Flint no less, should be overshadowed by the decaying neighborhood in a haunted city that that felt like it too was dying.
"As I was walking back from the mausoleum after the ceremony, I realized that I knew more people under the ground than above the ground," Lordd Virgil explained as he nostalgically recalled friends and family who sleep eternally under the sacred ground. "I walked by my aunts and uncles, friends from school and other musicians."
The thought remained with Lordd Virgil as he recalled his deep-seeded roots in Flint. Seven generations of his family and some of his friends are buried there. His grandfather and two of his uncles were among the original sit-downers at Fisher Body #1 during the famous strike in 1936-1937. His parents, both of whom worked at the plant, would later meet there and were married in 1968. Lordd Virgil was born in Flint.
Then Lordd Virgil thought about the places he knew as a child and how he watched them decay over the years … places like The Capitol Theatre where once he watched movies during its heyday, the circus at the IMA Auditorium and the neighborhoods where he grew up.
And yet, no matter what, Lordd Virgil loves Flint. Home is home.
The result was "Flint, Michigan", a sort of artistic testament to the city that he loves. Lordd Virgil created a video for the song based on a collage of stark images.
The video initially debuted with a whimper and all of the excitement of paint drying (and not even good paint), but people started to share the link and repost the video. The plays multiplied and, before he knew it, the video was generating several hundred plays per day on some days. Lordd Virgil verified from his YouTube statistics that plays have come from 54 countries, to date, and continue to grow every day.
"When we play the song live, I explain that I'm very upset with people calling Flint the epicenter of the recession and the worst place in America to live," Lordd Virgil explained. "That city is hallowed ground and unless people are from Flint, they have no business kicking the town down unless they're going to do something to fix it."
This is not the first time that a Lordd Virgil video has gone viral. After his previous anti-drug video, "Dead Rock Stars", appeared on the front page of YouTube.com as a featured video, the video suddenly received thousands of hits and currently has more than 30,000 plays.
But Lordd Virgil is more than an internet sensation and the band is no stranger to the music industry. Multi-platinum, award-winning producer John Hughes II (George Clinton, Parliament Funkadelic, David Sanborn) produced the band's second album 'Anno Domini'.
The videos for "Tip of My Tongue" and "Inside" (Both from 'Anno Domini') garnered NME Shockwave Video Awards. "Tip of My Tongue" also generated airplay throughout Europe and became a top-ten hit in Milan, Italy.
Lordd Virgil is Mark Stevens (Lead guitar), Rob Johannis (Bass), Oscar Gomez (Drums) and Lordd Virgil (Lead vocals and rhythm guitar).
The band is currently working on new material for their next album.
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Lordd Virgil Official Website