Blue October is an American alternative rock band, originally from Houston, Texas. Formed in 1995, the band consists of lead singer Justin Furstenfeld, Jeremy Furstenfeld (drums, percussion), Ryan Delahoussaye (violin/viola, mandolin, piano, backing vocals), Matt Noveskey (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Will Knaak (lead guitar). Their latest album This Is What I Live For is the band’s tenth studio album and peaked Top 20 on Billboard Top Rock Albums. The band also released a gripping documentary last year called Get Back Up. The Orchard spoke with Justin about the storyline behind the track list, embracing darkness while feeling the romance in life, and the challenges writing songs that are rooted in personal experiences.
Last year you released This Is What I Live For. Can you describe the storyline behind the track list?
The story line for this album was for me to take a chance at describing how sadness can feel romantic — like a love affair. Yes, there are serious subjects that are tackled in this album like defeat (“I laugh at myself”) or grief (“Stay With Me”) but the overall album centers around one’s romantic involvement with their own sadness.
You’ve described this album as embracing the darkness and feeling the romance in life again. Can you go into more detail about this and how these songs encompass that idea?
In “Love Stupid” you hear how sadness has maybe had a hand in relationship problems with other people. In “The Way I Used To Love You” you hear the actual memory and longing for the love affair you once had with that sadness. “Moving On (So Long)” is a confrontation with that sadness telling it how you’ve grown into something bigger than just the yard it lets you play in.
What was it like recording this album? Were some of these songs recorded during stay at home measures?
These songs were written on a tour in a bus and mostly recorded in a bus – a year before the pandemic. “Stay With Me” and “Moving On (So Long)” were finished being written as soon as the pandemic began.
You recently said, “Every album we make is a little better than the last one, and it’s because we try to approach it a little bit differently.” This was your tenth album. How is this album different from previous albums? What are the similarities? What was the approach you took this time?
I never record an album the same. I feel out each song and what it needs. This album was a piece that was about simplicity and the involvement of each member showcasing their ability at their very best. But under playing leaving room for the mix (Mark Needham) to shine.
You mentioned that This Is What I Live For would catch people off guard. Why is that? What are some challenges you’ve found writing songs that are rooted in personal experiences?
Because they are used to me being this happy sober guy and I guess this doesn’t sound like a happy sober guy. The only challenges I have are never using the same melody or lyric twice, never ever saying what’s already been said.
As a recovery advocate, Justin, how do you empower yourself and others through the music you’ve created over the past few years?
By being as open as possible.
If there’s one message you could tell your fans, what would it be?
One message I would tell my fans is that I am beyond grateful and I honestly owe them my life for the love and support they’ve shown.
You recently released a documentary about your experiences with mental health and overcoming addiction. What inspired you to create and share something so personal and vulnerable?
The reason I made the documentary was to make sure I stayed sober during the first year. Then it went on through the 7th year and it became a story of gratitude and new beginnings.
What advice would you give to someone else struggling with their own mental health and addiction?
There is always a solution.
What do you live for?
I live for creating art.