For some fans, rock-and-roll replaces religion.
For the members of Luxury, it was the other way around.
A beloved cult favorite of the early-’90s, the original four musicians — Glenn Black, Chris Foley, and brothers Lee and Jamey Bozeman – fired up fans with driving beats and dreamy lyrics. Then came a car crash. A conversion. And a couple of surprises.
The first? Foley and the Bozemans are all Eastern Orthodox priests now. The second? They’re back in the band, and still recording.
It’s a wild tale and Parallel Love: The Story of a Band Called Luxury tells it well.
The group was improbable from the start, formed by friends from tiny Toccoa Falls College, a Christian school in small-town Georgia. Instead of copying current grunge and hardcore trends, their look and sound was closer to The Cure and Fugazi.
And although the band identified as Christian – and were marketed via Christian bookstores and music festivals – lead singer Lee had a teasingly androgynous stage presence, and sang lyrics spiced with gay and bisexual themes.
The movie is directed by a fifth member, Matt Hinton, who joined the group’s later line-up. Although his connection doesn’t give him much distance from his subject, it does give him amazing access.
Little of the band’s early-’90s heyday seems to have gone undocumented, and the film is filled with footage of rehearsals, concerts, and offstage antics. Band members, wives and music executives all sit for present-day interviews.
The mood throughout is frank, but friendly. Bandmates acknowledge that Lee dominated the band, but also that his charisma made him a natural star. There are no stories about backstage fights (or, given members’ straight-edge convictions, drugs and groupies).
If the band faced a challenge, it was that they were Christians making music that didn’t fit anyone’s definition of “Christian music.” Still, they might have overcome that, if not for that life-altering accident in ’95, which led to a year-long hiatus.
Afterward, they put out a second album, but it wasn’t heavily promoted. A change in record labels for their third disc didn’t help. The band broke up in 1999, although some members have pursued solo projects, and the group has reunited twice to record new CDs.
It’s a great story, although an outside filmmaker might have been a better choice. Perhaps because Hinton like the musicians so much — or just assumes we knew them as well as he does – there are some gaps, and nagging questions.
Glenn Black, the drummer, reluctantly but movingly talks about his awful childhood, and emotional wounds that still haven’t healed. But the others are more reserved, with Lee Bozeman being particularly opaque.
What was his life like before the band? What inspired those provocative, ambiguous lyrics? And what really convinced him, and two other bandmates, to commit their lives to God (and to a religion that none of them previously practiced)?
Those subjects remain slightly mysterious, although there are hints, suggestions, clues. But then, that is a lot of what made Luxury a great live band to begin with.
Lyrics that teased, but never quite spelled things out. A singer who held the stage, yet always remained just out of reach.