Week in Pop: HDLSS, Jesus Sons, LuxDeluxe

Sjimon Gompers

Through the darkness of futures past—HDLSS's Far & Wolfy emerge from the billows of fog machine smoke; press photo courtesy of HDLSS.

Lee Bozeman

An intimate & insightful dialogue with Lee Bozeman; press photo courtesy of the artist.

Lee Bozeman, previously of Luxury, has shared the title track from his forthcoming The Majesty of the Flesh EP available today from the prestigious tastes over at Velvet Blue Music. The talented pop star turned parishioner moves forward with a solo career that retains all the previously lauded powerful deliveries of an emotive potency that virtually defies description. Of course there are the obvious comparsions of your Morrissey-esque sorts of front figures, yet Bozeman blends about a kind of personal creative mission down life’s winding tributaries that finds inspirations & insights through religious liturgy, traditions & metaphysical notions.

Seeking a sort of joy in all of our instinctual experiences, Lee Bozeman exalts the human experience for what it truly is without apology. “Majesty of the Flesh” arrives like a flash with rumbling drums, evocative synths & Lee’s own powerful vocal performance that places the artist front and center in the picture. The joys of enjoying a life well lived & well spent is exhibited with all of the involved thrills, spills & emotions that come with. Religious & Biblical allusions (i.e. the title) abound that fully entertain the energy & fun of finding some sort of fulfillment that makes life worthwhile. Bozeman treats every aspect of the song with a personal sort of honesty, even offering a minimalist piano outro that begins three minutes & nine seconds into the song that seeks a power to “save this body from death.” As religiously philosophical notions run parallel to the song’s own basking in blissful abandon; Lee Bozeman brings his own religious acknowledgements as a framework he applies to better understand the material world that we all share. Read our interview with the artist featured after the following title track listen:

Walk us through your albums under the Luxury moniker to your solo work.

Our career began in 1990. Our first two records, Amazing and Thank You and The Latest and the Greatest, were issued by the label Tooth and Nail Records in 1995 and 1997. They were a mix of influences, heavy in the heavy spots, and quiet in the quiet spots. They were born out of our live shows which were fairly dynamic. Because of a difficult car accident and recovery we stopped touring in 1997 and the three subsequent records, Luxury (1999 – Bulletproof Records), Health and Sport (2005 – Northern Records), and Trophies (2014 – self-released), became far more produced. We had time to spend crafting the records and so they took on a different quality with many more layers. Playing the songs live on tour wasn’t a pressure for us so we could create sounds that didn’t have to be duplicated. We also had the fortune of labels that continued to show interest in us making records even though we could do little to support them.

I released a solo record under the moniker All Things Bright and Beautiful called Love and Affection in 2003 with Northern Records. With the advent of sites such as Bandcamp and Soundcloud, I have been able to stay very active in self-releasing new material over the last decade which keeps things fresh. My latest EP, The Majesty of the Flesh, will be released on Velvet Blue Music. I haven’t had a label release in a while so this is very special and I am pleased with how it has come out.

From making the jump from Georgia to Texas, recording your artistic crafts & practicing your own faith; tell us how these collective experience continue to inspire and inform your own creative walk.

I have lived all over the East coast, the South, the Midwest, and now Texas. That constant movement affects the way you interact with the world and with people and so you are always looking for constants. For me, faith and art are two constants in my life. In reality, they are more than that, of course. At the same time, I have had a very stable marriage and family life which does not necessarily inspire great art. So, the music that I have written with Luxury in particular, especially in the beginning, was just a process of asking questions. Over time, as I experienced unrest with my jobs or as I began to understand more the complexities of life, I started to tackle those issues lyrically. I think I can say that I have grown as a writer over time, even without any significant turmoil in my life. And I attribute that mostly to life in the Orthodox Church and the formation that provides. You are always evaluating, always looking at yourself, always mindful of what is happening, or at least you have the opportunity to be. And I think that helps create the tension needed to write effectively.

Where have you found the places where both your personal & creative works are separate, parallel & perpendicular?

I think the word parallel best describes the various components of my own life. I don’t want to be schizophrenic, where in my work, I act this way, and in my music, I act another way. That is a kind of unhealthy fragmentation. I hope that I am the same whether I am functioning as a priest or as a singer in a band or as a husband. The different areas of my life have to be in harmony, they have to function in parallel because it would be inappropriate to blend them. My life as a priest has a profound impact on how I view the world and what I write about in music. The music and art that I take in affects the way I function as a priest, but I don’t ever feel the need to conflate my art and my role as priest. But I remain the same person doing both. Or at least I hope I am.

Give us insights on what the processes & praxis involved were like in writing & recording The Majesty of the Flesh record.

My life is fairly simple and I am not prolific, so it takes some outside force to get me writing usually. The two things that really pushed that into action were the political landscape of 2016 and the invitation to release an EP on Velvet Blue Music. Songs tend to come in batches for me, so when it was decided that I would record for the ep, I started digging through older ideas, especially song titles. I keep lists of song titles which is where most of my ideas spring from lyrically. I found two themes emerging: politics and the idea of dualism – the separation of the physical from the spiritual. I ended up writing eight songs fairly quickly and made my demos. My friend Taylor Muse, from the band Quiet Company in Austin, offered to be my “producer” and session musician which is not something I have done before. I was a little ignorant as to what he could do. His main role as producer was in the generation of ideas for the different parts of the songs. He suggested treatments for the drums or string parts. He suggested the change of a chord occasionally. I would comply sometimes and sometimes not. It was an entirely different process than what I was used to. Previously I would work a song from the bottom up, adding as it went along based on how it felt. Taylor’s method is much more structured so that you decide on the framework first and then make it feel like something. It was refreshing, actually.

We recorded the ep in three days at Test Tube Audio in Austin with Kevin Butler who also played drums. We brought in horn players and strings to fill out the sound. Matt Goldman from Glow in the Dark Studio in Atlanta mixed it for me.

Tell us too what can be expected in the upcoming Luxury documentary Parallel Love available this fall.

Luxury has its own unique story. Our friend Matt Hinton, the filmmaker, began documenting live shows and conversations and road trips in the early 1990’s. I am not sure he was intending to make a film at that time but over the years, he amassed a large amount of footage. There are two points of interest (aside from the music) that he has focused on with the film. The first was the near fatal accident that radically changed our trajectory in 1995. Many bands go through very similar experiences but it had a unique affect on Luxury. The second, and more unusual point, is the fact that three of us in the band have become Orthodox priests. Matt spent some time analyzing that reality and how our art and faith combine. I think the film is much broader than simply a documentary about music. My hope is that the story will resonate with people across a broad spectrum even if it is not likely that many people will have very similar experiences.

What else has been catching your attention, ear & eye lately?

I am thoroughly middle-aged now but I stay pretty well versed in what is happening. I suppose you atrophy a bit as you age and things don’t quite move you as much as you would like them to. But I keep listening and watching and reading. My main interest in literature is early 20th Century and I have been working my way through anything that Max Perkins edited for Scribners. I like his editing style and got interested in what he did for Thomas Wolfe though I don’t care much for Wolfe’s writing. I have tried to read more modern writers but there is a quality I don’t like in most of them. A lack of romance or simplicity. The only living American writer I read is Wendell Berry. I have also been working on the Russian writers and I don’t like most of them. Too much drama and too many characters. Chekhov and Turgenev are great. And a new writer named Vodolazkin, who wrote a novel called Laurus is top notch. The best novel I have read in years.

In music, I keep up with emerging bands and artists to a certain extent though I have very narrow tastes. The most interesting to me recently are DM Stith, Angel Olsen, and The Caretaker. The new Bon Iver record, though hard to get into initially, is really rewarding. Low’s record Ones and Sixes is great. For my new ep I was influenced by M83 and Massive Attack and even Frank Ocean a little. Arvo Part and A Winged Victory for the Sullen are both constants for me.

Prayers for our nation & world in the days, months & years to follow?

The prayers have been the same for centuries. I suppose that is because people have been the same for centuries. But we still need to do them.

Lee Bozeman’s solo EP The Majesty of the Flesh is available now from Velvet Blue Music.

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