JUSTIN COURTNEY PIERRE is back on his solo trip with this unadulterated indie rocker, ‘House of Strangers’, the lead single from ‘Permanent Midnight’, the final instalment of his ambitious four volume EP project. The songs across these four volumes are tied together by a highly personal narrative thread and feature the melodic drive and lyrical charm he’s known for as the frontman of pop-punk legends Motion City Soundtrack.
‘Permanent Midnight’ will be released on 9th December via Epitaph Records.
From the desk of Justin Courtney Pierre; A long time ago – long before you were born – I was a little boy who fell in love with a grown woman. She was something else, unlike any of the other humans I had come across in my short time on this planet so far. I was fully interested in all she had to offer, and she willingly gave of herself without pause. She was so incredibly wise, and I constantly looked for excuses to bump into her, just for the opportunity to talk. I fell so deeply in love.
Eventually I confessed my love to her. She knelt down to me and gently took my head between her hands. “If only you were all grown up,” she said as she kissed me on the top of my head. So I did what any young boy would do—I researched how to grow up faster. As you know, I’m not a technical wizard of any kind. And being an orphan of the world, I didn’t have a whole lot of instruction on how to approach this ambitious task. Fortunately, I met a man who possessed the ability to change matter over time. He was an odd sort of fellow who believed in the power of positive repetition. He gave me many mantras to study, told me to look inward over an extended period of time. He told me if I were truly focused – and lucky – I might reach my goal within a few decades. Obviously I was impatient, so I ransacked his laboratory one night after he had turned in, and absconded with a book of spells. One spell had the power to lengthen; another, the power to strengthen. One spell could manipulate the weather, and yet another had the power to reverse time.
I found an aging spell. I wanted to grow up quickly in order to be with the woman I loved. I followed the instructions and gathered the bizarre ingredients – a salamander’s claw, ten tears of pure joy, a flamingo’s kiss, frozen thoughts of the future, and a black rose. Given the vague units of measurement associated with most of the items, I had to use my best judgment to measure and make the potion. I mashed the items into a mushy paste, spread it on a piece of toast, and gobbled it up. For several hours, nothing happened. I was angry. I threw the odd man’s book of useless spells in the river and watched it drown. Then, I went to bed.
I woke up on fire. Not literally, but every cell in my body felt as though it were stretching, breaking apart, folding in on itself, and being born a new. I looked down at my body. I hardly recognized it. Every inch of me tingled and my skin moved as though a thousand worms were delivering mail on a deadline just below the epidermis. I rushed to a mirror as soon as I could stand to do so, and I saw one of the most glorious sights I’ve ever gazed my lonesome eyes upon. I was suddenly staring at a handsome man in his late twenties. He looked like me, but he also didn’t. He had facial hair and muscles – things I’d never experienced before. I stripped off my clothes and took it all in.
But my happiness was short-lived, for I soon began to notice wrinkles appearing on my forehead and at the corners of my eyes. My muscles softened. My stomach grew large. My hairline started to inch its way backwards. My hair began to turn gray. Soon I was staring at a middle-aged man. I had gone too far. In my excitement to change what was, I had failed to consider the possibility that I may no longer recognize what is. I felt like a monster – a little boy wearing a suit made of man.
It took a long while to bring myself to tell the woman whom I loved that I was now no longer a boy and to show her what I had become. I was afraid she might run screaming from the sight of me. But instead, she took my head into her hands and kissed me on the mouth when I stood in front of her. “I do,” she said. And we were married.
The next few years were a total blur of learning how to exist in a body that felt foreign to me. Eventually, I got the hang of it. Things were good. And soon you came along. And things were both good and difficult. I wanted to show you the ways of the world. It was not lost on me, the irony of teaching lessons and skills I had neither learned, experienced, nor understood. Somehow, despite this absurdity, a paradox occurred. You learned how to be far more human than I fear I ever will, and this fills me with a forever kind of joy that I can tap into whenever I need to scrape myself off the floor.
I know you’re not a fan of my stories. “They all have such terribly sad endings,” you’ve said on occasion. But I think this next one encapsulates the gist of what I’m trying to say.
There once was a father and daughter who journeyed across the snow-covered land they called home. They traveled on sleds led by very large dogs. This traditional crossing was made every seven years. This was their first crossing together since the daughter was born. In preparation for the journey, the father told his daughter as much as he could about the adventure ahead but omitted some of the danger that would disillusion the child’s innocent view of the world. The journey was only supposed to take around three to four weeks. For the father and the daughter, it did not.
At first, he thought perhaps his math had been off. He started rationing his food at week six. He maintained the facade and made sure nothing in his daughter’s routine changed. He feigned optimism and gave her his portions of food. When the first dog died, he hid that fact from her. He lied – his first to her – a lie about a canine wedding in the middle of the night. “They eloped and ran off,” he shrugged.
He tried to shield her from the horrors and struggles as long as he could. At last, around year five and several dogs later, he levelled with her. But she already knew. Well, if not the details, she already had the feeling that something was off as far back as she could remember. But none of that mattered.
“Teach me to hunt,” was all she said.
They spent the next few lost years getting to know each other more. The father would impart all his knowledge upon his daughter. She in return would take that knowledge and improve upon it. Somewhere in the eleventh year of the journey, the last of the old dogs died. They were still very far from home. The man, now older and weaker, rolled up his sleeves and got in the dead dog’s harness.
“Well… if that dumb dog’s gonna leave us up fuck creek… Well…shit,” was all he could say.
And so he pulled his daughter through the snow, because that’s what fathers do. Despite her constant protests to pull her own weight, he continued to spend each hour in daylight trudging through snow with the weight of his world on his back. Each day got increasingly more difficult, and yet he persevered. Until one day he couldn’t.
“It’s ok,” his daughter said, “we can walk from here.” And she pointed toward the horizon. The old man could see the tufts of smoke rising above the treeline, signifying signs of life. They shared a knowing look.
“How long have you known?” he asked.
“My whole life, I suppose.”
“Then why didn’t you say something?”
“I just wanted to see what would happen,” she shrugged, taking only what was useful to her from the sled and began walking toward the world.
“What’s worse?” the broken old man pleaded. “The idea that I’m incompetent, or that I just wanted more time with you?”
“What difference does it make?” she said over her shoulder. “Either way it was always going to end like this.”