Blue October are (left to right): bassist Matt Noveskey, multi-instrumentalist Ryan Delahoussaye, singer/guitarist Justin Furstenfeld, drummer Jeremy Furstenfeld and guitarist Julian Mandrake
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Latest project: a U.S. tour promoting their new album, “Any Man in America"
Sounds like: emotive modern rock with a punk kick and echoes of R.E.M., Peter Gabriel and the Cure
Biggest claim to fame: “Hate Me,” their ubiquitous 2006 rock radio hit
Official website: http://blueoctober.com/
It’s been a rough couple of years for Justin Furstenfeld. On the latest album from his band Blue October, Furstenfeld channels the frustration and pain of an ugly divorce and custody battle into 13 tracks of carefully orchestrated but emotionally raw and cutting-edge rock. It’s the most deeply personal and powerful album of the Texas group’s career—which, given Furstenfeld’s long history of laying his soul bare in the recording studio, is saying a lot.
Furstenfeld checked in with Metromix via email to talk about "Any Man in America" and the legal and personal battles that led to its creation.
After listening to the new Blue October album, I feel like I should give you a hug. Are you doing OK these days?
Yeah I’m doing OK…but it’s one day at a time, y’know?
How much of the outrage on the album is directed at your ex-wife, and how much of it is directed at the institution of divorce itself?
The album is put out as a message to my daughter. The rage that you speak of comes from direct accusations that could harm me and my future with her. Subsequently, I’m having to defend myself from this legal system allowing lawyers to lie for their clients. So I’d rather have my daughter hear the truth—rather than have her get to constantly hear these false accusations that have the potential to keep me away when she needs her daddy the most.
There are a lot of touches of hip-hop on this record. Who are some of your favorite rappers?
I’m really inspired these days by Jay-Z, Eminem, Yelawolf, Paul Wall, 50 Cent, Young Buck, Slim Thug and all the Swishahouse Crew, Waka Flocka, Gucci Mane.
On the title track, you describe performing “Hate Me” while on tour as “reliving it.” Are there any songs on this album that will literally just be too painful to perform live?
This is definitely a challenge, however if something was too painful then I would’ve not released it. I feel all this needs to be said now more than ever.
Would you ever consider just retiring a song like “Hate Me” and not playing it live? You don’t strike me as the type of artist who’s overly concerned with “playing the hits.”
I do it for the fans. If they want to hear “Hate Me,” I’ll play “Hate Me.” You got to remember “Hate Me” is what pays for my daughter’s food, clothes, and the roof over her head.
Your artwork graced the covers of two Blue October albums, “The Answer” and “History for Sale.” Do you still paint?
I haven’t been painting lately because I’ve been writing so many songs. Call me obsessed, but during this two-year divorce, my studio was the only place I felt safe when I wasn’t with my daughter. It was a challenge to get out and go to the grocery store, or rehearsal. So that whole time, even if I didn’t feel like writing—I wrote. Subsequently, I came up with so many ideas and so many different genres.
People tend to dwell on your dark side, but what makes you laugh?
The people that dwell on my dark side. I’m actually a funny/hyper guy. I run with “ewgughuwez.”
Stephanie Meyer has said Blue October’s music was a big influence on her “Twilight” books. How did you first learn she was a fan?
Well she called our management company to meet us and to go to dinner. It was there that she told me she was a huge fan and wanted me to go on a book tour with her. The book tour was an amazing experience. I love her and respect her.
Are you Team Edward or Team Jacob?
I’m Team Blue.
Do you get to see your daughter very often these days?
No. It’s been a complicated experience.