brent johnson speaks with Blue October frontman Justin Furstenfeld about his highly personal new album …
As modern rock band Blue October prepare to release a new album on Tuesday, frontman Justin Furstenfeld couldn’t be any more blunt about it.
Any Man In America is the most personal record he’s ever made.
“This album means more to me than the album about my drug addiction,” says the 35-year-old singer, whose band broke big five years ago with the angsty hit ‘Hate Me.’
“This album means more to me than the album that was about the pope having sex with kids — not the pope, but religious figures. It means more to me than any breakup. It means more to me than any marriage.”
The reason: In the wake of a bitter divorce, Furstenfeld says, he’s spent much of his recent life battling to spend court-appointed time with his daughter. He says he’s only seen her a few months out of the last few years, often having to fly from Texas to Nebraska to visit.
He relayed that turmoil into the writing on Any Man, Blue October’s sixth record. The pain is apparent in songs like first single ‘The Chills’ and closing track ‘The Follow Through.’
I’ll wait for you ’till time lays down to sleep, Furstenfeld sings in the latter, And I’ll sneak across the walls you’ll never know.
“I’ve always talked about issues you can’t talk about at the dinner table,” Furstenfeld tells Pop-Break.com. “But this was actually about my child. …
“I don’t get to see her. She doesn’t know who I am. That’s unacceptable to me.”
Blue October have been making personal modern rock for nearly 15 years. But the Texas group didn’t the mainstream in 2006, when ‘Hate Me’ — with its talky verse and tense chorus — reached the Billboard Top 40. Furstenfeld and his raccoon-like eye makeup were suddenly on VH1’s weekly video countdown.
The band gained a new breed of fans two years later when Furstenfeld went on a four-city book-and-concert tour with one of his friends, Twilight author Stephanie Meyer.
“A real interesting younger crowd started liking us a lot,” Furstenfeld says.
But the last few years have been rough. In 2009, Blue October worked with famed producer Steve Lillywhite — the band behind the great early records by U2 and Dave Matthews Band — on the album Approaching Normal. The group set out on a tour called ‘Pick Up The Phone’ to raise awareness for suicide prevention and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. (Furstenfeld has long battled bipolar disorder.) The band, though, cut the tour short after Furstenfeld was hospitalized because of an anxiety attack.
Blue October also cut ties with Universal Records. They’re releasing Any Man on their own independent label.
But more than anything, there have been family issues. Furstenfeld has partnered with the American Coalition of Fathers and Children to spread the word about custody battles — and how it’s often more challenging for the father in such cases.
It’s times like these that he’s grateful to be a musician — being able to channel the fight for his daughter into song.
“Just imagine if I didn’t have that,” Furstenfeld says. “I’d be running the streets going, ‘This is wrong!’ I’d be crazy-eyed.”
But the goal now, he explains, is to appreciate life.
“I want to get past the drama so bad that I’ve used my latest album to talk about how to get my daughter back,” Furstenfeld says. “I want people to learn to love each other and enjoy music and art — and relate, and not feel alone.”
For more on Blue October and to find upcoming tour dates, visit their website.