I don’t recall having ever before heard the music from the subject of Matt Hinton’s revealing documentary Parallel Love: The Story of a Band Called Luxury. One talking head comes onscreen with perhaps the best description for the band, whose heyday was in the 1990s: “Fugazi meets the Smiths.” Another notes Luxury sounded not quite British and not quite American. There certainly was (and is) a familiarity to their sound.
The original quartet hails from Toccoa, Georgia, which, at just more than 9,000 residents, is three times smaller than Athens, which is about an hour’s drive away and produced such chart toppers as R.E.M., the B-52s and Widespread Panic. None of those bands, nor any of the countless others from the Peach State, has the surprising twist that makes Parallel Love unique.
Drummer Glenn Black is shown in childhood photos painted up like a member of KISS, so it’s small wonder he’s all flopping hair and flailing arms in archival Luxury practice and performance footage that Hinton includes in his documentary, which rolled during the Newport Beach Film Festival in April. Black pounds his kit like Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham as bass player Chris Foley and guitarist Jamey Bozeman eke out hard-edged riffs worthy of bands from punk’s hardcore second wave.
But what made Luxury truly stand out was their frontman, Bozeman’s younger brother Lee, who, unlike his grungier band mates, wore his hair high and tight and dressed, moved and sang as if he were an extra from the U.K.’s New Romantic movement. Comparisons to Morrissey fill the first half of Parallel Love, which is apt when it comes to the Luxury singer’s sexually ambiguous lyrics, although he possesses a sweeter demeanor and higher-pitched voice than the Pope of Mope.
Which brings us to the reason most of the masses never heard Luxury in the early years. The blue-collar kids sprang from double-wides and a tiny Christian college on the outskirts of Toccoa. Though they did not create Christian music, they were urged by friends from other campus bands to join them at the Cornerstone Festival, which was held in Bushnell, Illinois, and founded by Jesus People USA.
The idea was that at least the ultra-underground indie band would get noticed—and they did by Brandon Ebel, who started his Tooth & Nail Records label in his rented Irvine condo with money from a relative. (He later moved his operation from SoCal to Seattle, where he remains today.) Tooth & Nail was a contemporary Christian music (CCM) operation, but Ebel says during Parallel Love that he was on the hunt for punk, rock and hardcore acts with secular as opposed to traditional CCM sounds.
It is nonetheless characterized as a grave disservice to Luxury that the band’s first records for Tooth & Nail were sold only in Christian bookstores, where few copies apparently moved. (Lee Bozeman says he never saw documentation on how many of their albums for Tooth & Nail were actually sold.) Christian bookstore patrons obviously were not drawn to his lyrics about touching boys, looking down their shirts or jumping from a male to a female, even though the singer/songwriter was at the time (and is today) married to a woman. He swears on film that those were the feelings of characters in his tunes, not of himself, no matter how personal they come off.
What stopped Luxury from getting off the ground more than being stocked in the wrong shops was a horrific traffic accident while they were on the way home from a Cornerstone Festival in 1995. Lee Bozeman, who was one of the crushed van’s three occupants who came away with a broken neck, was the most seriously injured.
Serious also describes the direction his lyrics and the band’s more experimental music took after everyone recovered (at least physically). That is when Hinton joined Luxury as “the other guitarist.” However, the biggest change of all came with Foley and the Bozeman brothers taking similar paths back to their faith. All three are today orthodox Christian priests. What other band has that going for them?
Hinton, who also wrote, produced and edited Parallel Love, will talk about his film after Wednesday’s screening at the Art Theatre in Long Beach.
Parallel Love was directed by Matt Hinton. Screens at the Art Theatre, 2025 E. Fourth St., Long Beach, (562) 438-5435; arttheatrelongbeach.org. Wed., 7 p.m. $9-$12.
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Parallel Love: The Story of a Band Called Luxury drops locally at a time of summer when rockumentaries and concert films are hot at local indie theaters.
Tim Pope’s The Cure: Anniversary 1978-2018 Live in Hyde Park plays at the Art Theatre and the Frida Cinema on Thursday, July 11 (and again Sunday night at the Frida). The Santa Ana theater also has a 50th-anniversary screening of Michael Wadleigh’s Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music: The Director’s Cut on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and evenings.
Coming July 26 to Regency’s South Coast Village in Santa Ana is the new doc David Crosby: Remember My Name. The evening of Aug. 1, the Art and the Frida both screen Grateful Dead: Meet Up at the Movies—Giants Stadium 06-17-91. And currently scheduled for Aug. 21 at the Art is Rush: Cinema Strangiato 2019, which is billed as the Canadian rock trio’s first “Annual Exercise in Fan Indulgence.”
Check our Special Screenings listings for more info on these films.
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.