Song-by-Song: ‘When A Man Loves An Omen’ by Judson Claiborne
Christopher Salveter reveals all about his new EP, including a longing to return to reckless days of his 20s
Chicago-based group Judson Claiborne is the project of ex-Low Skies frontman Christopher Salveter and their new EP manages to be both atmospheric and stripped-down in a way which will immediately appeal to fans of Low and Bill Callahan. Recorded in a home studio in Pennsylvania, the current lineup of the group includes Jamie Topper (percussion, vocals) and bandmate Josh Lantzy (multi-instrumentalist), with guest appearances from Julian Rogai, Alex Luquet and Patrick McGee.
The EP’s six songs find inspiration in a wide range of places, from neuroendocrinology to the Climate Crisis. Here’s Claiborne himself to explain…
TWENTY DOLLAR QUARTET
This is something of a kill and/or criticize your idols song. Over the course of several years, I’ve been reading and reflecting on the biographies of Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis, (whose music I was raised on) and thinking about their iconic status in American culture and the nostalgia that surrounds these white men who are considered in many circles as “pioneers” of rock and roll (perhaps an apt title considering the brutality and exploitative practices of many American pioneers).
The current era of Trump and “Make America Great Again” is indeed part nostalgia for Jerry Lee Lewis-era white supremacy and patriarchy, so I thought this song would be a place to examine the misogyny of these three men. It should be said that the only thing I really know about Carl Perkins (the fourth member of the “Million Dollar Quartet”) is that he played a character in a 1985 John Landis film called Into The Night where he and another character (played by David Bowie) both stab each other to death in its final scene.
My wife, Josephine Ferorelli co-founded an organization called Conceivable Future that collects testimonies about how the Climate Crisis is shaping people’s reproductive lives. This song was written as a submission for Conceivable Future’s website and I plan to post it there once this song is released. The lyrics explain how the great failings of the human species have led me to not want biological children of my own.
I WANT MY UNDEVELOPED PREFRONTAL CORTEX BACK
I wrote this song while reading neuroendocrinologist Robert Sapolsky’s most recent book, Behave, about the human brain. The first third of the book is focused on the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that governs reasoning. After learning that it doesn’t fully develop until a person’s late 20s, I began to reflect on certain moments of reckless unreasoning during my third decade: There was that one time an underwater boulder grazed my arm after I jumped off a very tall cliff into a lake. Also those few years I was on tour with chronic bronchitis and medicated simultaneously with cough medicine and bourbon.
And yet, as I’ve just turned 40, there’s still a yearning to return to a 20s-state of mind that was more willing to take risks and have impromptu adventures. The song wraps up with gratitude for the wisdom and mindfulness that comes with aging and recognizes the desire for an undeveloped prefrontal cortex as a fruitless pursuit.
ALIVE IN TIME
We recorded this EP at Veriditas, the home studio of composer Patrick McGee (Acidhead) in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. There’s a beautiful Grand Steinway piano that lives in the control room there, which Josh (Lantzy) fell in love with it within minutes of arriving. During our few days there, he would stay up very late and wake up early to get some alone time with the piano and ended up writing this instrumental piece. It was recorded the morning of our departure and its name comes from a list of creative strategies that were posted on the walls in the studio’s control room.
“Trimmergrant” is a term used to describe a person who travels to Humboldt County, California, to find work, trimming marijuana on a farm in the mountains there. Humboldt County has for a long time been known for its vast and clandestine terrain and perfect environment for growing marijuana crops. It’s also been known as one of “the last vestiges of the Wild West,” a place with very little law enforcement, where the inhabitants take the law into their own hands, although that seems to be changing. Trimmergrants regularly go missing in the mountains, which brings the loved ones of the disappeared to try and find them.