Pedro the Lion and Luxury are reminiscent of the Solimões River where half the river displays a coffee with cream look while the other side is black tea colored. The two sides run parallel to each other for over 3.5 miles, never mixing until the force of the Amazon’s current sweeps them into itself. In each band’s documentary, there is an early focus on the fully integrated self. Bazan states,
“Every single person in my extended family is Christian and the same kind of Christian that we were, Pentecostal, Assemblies of God. And…certain kinds of evangelical Christianity specifically there’s this push for your faith to be fully integrated in your person, your identity and it’s not some separate ornament to your life, it’s the fundamental thing…(it) permeates everything.”
Similarly, Luxury’s bass player, Chris Foley states, ”When I was exposed to the punk scene it was a full integrated subculture, What I found in punk rock was people believed in something wholeheartedly and had the zeal to do it and they weren’t living two different lives like I had seen in some of the Christian subculture.”
Ironically, Bazan leans into the duplicity described by Foley in Strange Negotiations, “there was a sense early on that there was a version of Christianity that was pure and based on Scripture that the people in my culture were barely paying lip service to. Bazan’s starting point is a Christian subculture. In taxonomical terms his phylum Christianity, his class Pentecostal, and his order Assemblies of God. The original iteration of Pedro the Lion was Bazan’s vehicle for shedding his evangelical skin. It allowed him to introspectively question is beliefs while also publicly confronting religious hypocrisy.
Conversely, Luxury’s starting point was not the questioning of the fully integrated self, but rather the celebration of it, albeit in separate contexts. The focus on self-identity is what kept the two bands flowing separately in the same artistic river. Where Bazan’s existential crisis, caused by his unprepared exposure to things like textual criticism, Nietzsche, and Hegel, Luxury’s existential crisis occurs at the end of their first iteration. While driving back from a large Christian music festival, Luxury’s tour van veered off the highway and flipped several times. The accident left singer, Lee Bozeman, in ICU and caused the band to reevaluate their priorities and led to the band becoming inactive for a period.
These crises acted upon both groups like the Amazon river on the Solimões, pulling the parallel streams into the chaos of crisis. Crisis helped Bazan shed his evangelicalism, while similar turmoil propelled Luxury deeper into the Christian faith with three members entering the Orthodox priesthood. Neither compromised their integrity by sloganizing the gospel, but rather came full circle to embrace the ideal of the fully integrated self in their own ways.