PARALLEL LOVE THE STORY OF A BAND CALLED LUXURY
‘Parallel Love: The Story of a Band Called Luxury’ follows the path of Luxury, a band from small-town Georgia, who, on the cusp of success, suffer a devastating touring wreck with long-term consequences. In the intervening years, they continue to make records and three members of the band become Eastern Orthodox priests. Through interviews and archival footage, ‘Parallel Love’ tells the gripping and poignant story of Luxury and documents the making of a new record, now as priests.
Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Matt Hinton grew up loving movies but believed that rock n roll was the more realistic career path. While playing in various bands, he studied Religion and Philosophy at Georgia State University, followed by graduate school at Emory University where he studied Theology. While teaching Religion at Morehouse and Spelman Colleges in Atlanta, he produced, directed (with his wife, Erica Hinton), and edited “Awake, My Soul: The Story of the Sacred Harp (2008),” his first feature documentary, about Sacred Harp singing, a tradition of early American shapenote hymn singing, which has been kept alive in rural Georgia and Alabama for over 150 years. “Awake, My Soul” has screened in at least 4 continents, aired nationwide on PBS, and has been featured in TIME, NPR, Spin, Rolling Stone, NY Times, Chicago Tribune, Pitchfork, & Les Inrockuptibles (France). Hinton was interviewed on “Bob Edward’s Weekend” (NPR) and “On Point with Tom Ashbrook” (NPR) in connection with “Awake, My Soul.” His next film, “Parallel Love: The Story of a Band Called Luxury,” follows the path of Luxury, a band from small town Georgia, who, on the cusp of success suffered a devastating wreck. In the intervening years, three members of the band become Eastern Orthodox priests, yet they have persisted in making music. The film is the result of 20 years of informal documentation, as Hinton joined the band in 1999. Thus, his story begins and ends with rock n’ roll. Especially if he dies soon. In addition to filmmaking, teaching and rock n roll, he has worked as a carpenter, a photographer and a seller of architectural antiques. He currently owns and operates Bell Street Burritos (named one of the top 10 burritos in America by USA Today) which he began in his kitchen in the home he shares with his wife and 3 kids.
Director’s Statement: As a filmmaker, I find that I am most drawn to subjects that I am in close proximity to. After all, in my life, am often an observer rather than the center of the focus. This was certainly true of my previous film, “Awake, My Soul: the Story of the Sacred Harp,” since, although my wife and I are active Sacred Harp singers, the story is clearly big enough (over two centuries in scope), that we could observe the tradition without inserting ourselves into the story. This observational stance was a little more complicated this time with “Parallel Love,” since I had joined the band Luxury, the subject of the film, in the late 90’s. And yet, even in the context of the band, I feel that I am operating from a remove, insofar as I am not part of the original group of 4 members. And beyond that, I had already begun informally documenting the band well before I was a member. Therefore, on one hand, I’ve had a lingering disquiet throughout the making of “Parallel Love,” born of the axiom, “There is no single thing on planet Earth more lame than making a movie about one’s own band.” On the other hand, as an observer, I have had a growing sense that an active indie rock band with three members who are Orthodox priests, is, in a word, peculiar. When Luxury decided to make a new record— the first record after each of the priests had taken on their new vocation— the filmmaker in me could no longer resist. I reflected on the footage and photographs that I had already shot over the past 20 years, from concerts, to recording sessions, to the aftermath of a catastrophic wreck that left 4 of my very good friends in a hospital in the middle of Illinois, barely hanging on to life. I discovered that, when I considered each of the critical moments that make up the narrative of the band, there was hardly any piece of the story that I hadn’t filmed or photographed. So I decided to document the making of the new record as well and move forward with a film. As I edited I realized, given the breadth of the archival footage I had that, even if I had a time machine, there is almost nothing I would want to go back in time for. The sole exception is a certain photo that was taken by someone I don’t know and never met, though they were present for a pivotal moment in our lives. As I stood in the median of a highway trying to make sense of the van that had flipped over two or three times, which had thrown one friend 20 feet in the air and had crushed another friend under it’s weight, I saw a car on the highway come to a stop. The person in the back seat pulled out a camera took a picture of us. Then they drove away. I must admit I resented that person at the time. Now, I kinda wish I had that picture. —Matt Hinton, director, “Parallel Love”.
THE BAND: Luxury is a band that began in the 1990’s in the small town of Toccoa GA, but from the start, it was clear that their aspirations and influences were elsewhere. Sounding like Fugazi or Shudder to Think fronted by a younger, more vicious Morrissey, they were an anomaly, in Toccoa, or almost anywhere. They brought together such disparate influences that one could barely imagine them co-existing in a band, much less pulling it off as a thoroughly distinctive sound. The English melodicism laid on top of such pummeling instrumentation was a study in contrasts, but it was of a piece, as there was enough of the melodic in the instruments and enough brutality in the lyrics and vocal delivery that it hung together, just so. As singer, Lee Bozeman describes it, “I write these beautiful, nice songs, and then the band destroys them.” Upon the release of their first record, Amazing and Thank You (1995), Luxury seemed poised to move to another level, but a wreck in the summer of 1995 (with tour-mates and fellow Georgians, Piltdown Man) had the opposite impact. All told, there were 3 broken necks between both bands, with Bozeman sustaining the most devastating internal injuries. The wreck changed their fortunes as well (evidently) as their ambitions. With each successive record, there was a greater sense of self-reflection in Bozeman’s lyrics, and the music followed that deepening maturity, all the while maintaining the fundamental dichotomy of soaring melodies on top of angular post-punk instrumentation. The first record was essentially a document of their live shows, which were remarkable events in their intensity and the band’s posture of defiance directed even at their own audience. On successive records, though, Luxury learned to use the studio as an instrument. While, on the first record Bozeman asks “So, what do you expect from life?” he seems to have spent each of the following records seeking to answer that very question.
Causation is a notoriously slippery force to get one’s hands around. Yet, humanly speaking, it is hard not to point to the wreck of 1995 when hoping to understand how three members of Luxury are now Eastern Orthodox priests (the other two members are an ordained Presbyterian [PCA] elder and an occasional Lutheran board of directors member, surely cementing their status as one of the most ordained bands in history). Now, it is doubtlessly a noteworthy fact that members of a band went on to become priests, as members of most bands are obliged to go on and do something different with their lives. But what can it mean for a band led by priests to continue making records? On their newly recorded fifth album, Trophies, the lyrical themes may be said to be further musings on the expectations and memories of life. But as with prior Luxury records, spiritual concerns are obliquely addressed, if at all. So does Luxury sound anything like a band full of priests? There are several legitimate answers:
1. Who can say? There are no others.
2. Self-evidently they do. For they are.
3. No. They don’t even sound like Christians.
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