News Segment


July 19, 2007

When East Coast rockers Firehouse won the Best New Hard Rock/Metal Band award during the 1991 American Music Awards, Bill Leverty did not hear any music fans turn against the band despite Internet reports to the contrary.

Leverty, 40, guitarist for Firehouse, strolled to the podium to accept an award his newly formed band won by besting future grunge music icons Nirvana and Alice in Chains.

“Never heard any booing,” Leverty said he recalled about an awards show held at a time when so-called “hair band” acts of the 80s were beginning to fade while the Seattle grunge scene was soon to soar in popularity. “There might have been some depressed people wearing flannel T-shirts . . . who might still be booing.”

Firehouse won the award for storming into the rock scene with a self-entitled album that reached double platinum status in the early 90s. The band has been together ever since.

Leverty and his bandmates bring their show to the Heart of Illinois Fair at 7 p.m. Saturday. The concert, sponsored by 95.5 GLO, will be held at the Peoria Banking Center Entertainment tent. Tickets are $17 the night of the show.

“One of my favorite places to tour is the Midwest,” Leverty said during a recent interview from his hometown of Richmond, Va., noting a show the band did earlier this year with ’80s bands Warrant and L.A. Guns at Bloomington’s U.S. Cellular Coliseum. “Our audience is probably the strongest (in the Midwest) and the people are the most down-to-Earth.”

Firehouse was formed in 1988, and by 1991 the band had a hit song, “Don’t Treat Me Bad.” Other songs have become well-known by fans of “glam” rock music (Leverty refers to this genre as “melodic” rock), including ballads “Love of a Lifetime” and “When I Look into Your Eyes,” and more up tempo tunes “All She Wrote” and “Reach for the Sky.”

“I have to be on my toes to play that song,” Leverty said about “Reach for the Sky,” his favorite song to perform live. “There is a lot of emotion in the (guitar) solo.”

Firehouse recently participated in a three-day musical festival called “Rocklahoma.” That event, held in Pryor, Okla., featured nearly every big-name band from the ’80s hard rock scene: Poison, Slaughter, Warrant, Skid Row, Jackly, Queensryche, Motely Crue’s Vince Neil, etc.

“It’s a decade or more of music that is really hard to get anymore nowadays,” Leverty said. “There are a lot of people who started that style of music and still love it.”

One band Leverty said Firehouse met up with during the popular music festival was the outrageous Twisted Sister.

In fact, Firehouse will collaborate with various hard rocking bands on a project Twisted Sister is spearheading – a Christmas album.

“We did ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,'” Leverty said. “We’re waiting on (rock band) Dokken (to finish their song before the album is released before the holidays).

Meanwhile, Leverty and his bandmates will continue to tour before they return to the studio and work on another album this winter. The band’s last album was released in 2003.

Leverty also plans on releasing an instrumental album in about a month.

“I want to thank the fans who have supported us for almost 20 years now,” Leverty said. “We haven’t played in Peoria in about a year. We look forward to meeting with everyone.”

Courtesy of