I was first introduced to Christian music when I was given a cassette tape (aging myself) of Amy Grant’s Unguarded. From there, I delved into a broad range of Christian music artists including Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, and Petra. Faith-based films have become increasingly popular, even among mainstream audiences. In recent months, there has been a renewed interest in the phenomena of Christian music, particularly the culture and crossover into mainstream circles. Electric Jesus, the story about the rise and inevitable fall of a religious hair metal band during the summer of 1986, is edgy and raw and strikingly representative of Christian music during this era.
Electric Jesus is a coming-of-age, rock-and-roll comedy that follows the ill-fated aspirations of religious hair metal band 3:16 during the 80s. With a passion for metal and music, the band sets out to “make Jesus famous.” Although technically in the genre of faith-based films, Electric Jesus is not afraid to show the gritty side of metal band life, including their moral struggles.
Set in Columbia, South Carolina, Electric Jesus is an authentic tribute to metal bands during the 80s. 3:16 is given the life-changing opportunity to endeavor on a mini road tour, playing their music for youth groups across the South. The band’s tour includes churches, skating rinks, and other morally-upright establishments with the goal of being discovered and signed. Inevitably, the clash between the religious and the secular is too much for the band to weather as they decide whether it is worth it to trade compromise for success.
Electric Jesus is humorous and poignant, offering an honest look at band life amongst Christian circles. I appreciated the fact that the filmmakers did not shy away from portraying the very real moral challenges musicians of all walks of life face. The storytelling is phenomenal, and had I not known most of the Christian bands of that era, I could be convinced this was a true story about a real band.
Electric Jesus is now available to stream on Apple TV, Prime Video, Google Play, and Microsoft.