Stryper may have gained a reputation as the greatest Christian hair metal band of all time. But the upcoming movie Electric Jesus reminds us that there were a lot of bands rocking for God and trying to reach the hearts, minds, and souls of rock-obsessed kids around the nation. One of these bands was 316, who penned the smash hit “Commando for Christ” back in 1986 that urged everyone to wage spiritual warfare and “go commando for Christ.”
OK, just to be clear, Electric Jesus is a real movie written and directed by Chris White, and starring Judd Nelson and Brian Baumgartner (aka, The Office’s Kevin Malone). The plot: 316 is a Christian hair metal band on the verge of making it big. As they go on tour to spread the Good News, their young sound guy finds himself falling in love with a pastor’s daughter who’s stowed away on the tour.
Watching the above music video — which absolutely nails the kitschy aspects of Christian music while still packing in some hot riffs — and reading the director’s statement, I get a really good vibe from Electric Jesus. For example, this part of the director’s statement really resonates with me:
ELECTRIC JESUS was born out of years of looking back, reconstructing, re-discovering moments and memories I’d long since left behind that suddenly fascinated me. I missed being a Christian youth group kid. I missed the certainty, the comfort… I missed Jesus.
But then, as I wrote and eventually as we shot the film, a bigger revelation came to me. I’d been operating under the illusion that my churchy teen years were all about me — that I’d been the sole protagonist in an origin story about me… that coming of age was something that happened to me, while everyone else was just kinda along for the ride… my co-stars.
So that’s what ELECTRIC JESUS came to be about to me: believing in something so much it all gets too big to fail, all the while completely missing the existentially huge story that’s happening right under your nose. And only being able to realize that several decades later when it’s too late to do it over.
Electric Jesus is in post-production, with a planned release date some time this fall (though who knows with the pandemic going on). Suffice to say, as a youth group kid who grew up during the ’80s, I love everything about this movie’s concept and I can’t wait to see it.
Oh, and for all you Chrindie kids, check this out: The movie’s music, including “Commando for Christ,” is by none other than Daniel Smith of Danielson fame. And the film’s music supervisor is John J. Thompson, who founded and ran True Tunes News. You can listen to Thompson interview Smith about Electric Jesus (and other topics, like recording music and playing at Cornerstone) on the True Tunes podcast.