Justin Furstenfeld and Blue October - Tortured Souls
One Houston band has emerged with a melodic sound behind which lurks dark revealing lyrics. Exploring such subjects as suicide, addiction, love, mental depression, betrayal, and forgiveness - topics most people dare not speak of - they clearly have not followed an ordinary path to success. Blue October's self-described "chameleonic modern rock" is still evolving from an intensely beloved cult band to mainstream acceptance.
Justin Furstenfeld (vocals) and brother Jeremy (drums) along with Ryan Delahoussaye (violinist), C.B. Hudson (guitar) and Matt Noveskey (bass guitar) came together in the late 1990's to form Blue October. Justin had started the band without his brother, but while they were practicing for their first show - only days away, Jeremy was asked to play drums .Although he had only limited experience, he completed the band's lineup by quickly learning the music.
The name Blue October is a reflection of lead vocalist Justin's brief stay in a mental hospital one October after awakening from a nightmare in which he witnessed the very last drops of sanity pour out of his mind. He awoke only to realize that his nightmare had come true. From an early age Justin turned to music to help him cope with torment from a fractured past, and to take an unflinching look at himself. He admits his music is a form of self-treatment for demons that have plagued him since his teenage years.
Blue October has a sound that evokes an array of eclectic influences, such as Peter Gabriel and Pink Floyd, but it is clearly the lyrics that make their music so intriguing to listeners. Justin writes about real life experiences that people can relate to. His lyrics are factual truths, almost like reading someone's innermost thoughts on the pages of a diary, admitting truths that listeners could never otherwise reveal about themselves. He puts his most personal thoughts and feelings out there for all the world, allowing fans to feel what he feels. In one interview, Justin admitted that he doesn't remember writing many of the songs, saying "they just come out when it's getting too much for me." His songs are drenched in emotion, attracting a hardcore following who can relate.
The band was initially managed by the brothers' parents under the name "RoDan Entertainment", and released their first album The Answers in 1998 - selling over 5,000 copies in Houston. The band signed with Universal in 1999 and released it's second album, Consent To Treatment, only to be dropped by the record label the following year. In 2002 they signed with Brando Records, but due to larger than expected album sales, the band's third album was re-released with Universal. History For Sale, featured the hit song "Calling You", which was also included on the American Wedding soundtrack. Justin wrote in Blue October's bio on their official website that the new album was "almost like a form of vengeance to our old label", going on to express that they were never into making radio hits - rather to reach out to listeners. Their fourth album, Argue With A Tree, was released in 2004. Their latest album Foiled, released in 2006, soared towards platinum in just eight months. The album was originally going to be titled Beyond The Sadness, but Justin and Jeremy's dad, Dan Furstenfeld coined it Foiled, after the album's release was delayed several times. The album's first single, "Hate Me", peaked at number two on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart. This song focuses on Justin's mother dying and his girlfriend leaving him, expressing his feelings with lyrics such as "I have to block out thoughts of you, so I don't lose my head, they crawl in like a cockroach leaving babies in my bed". Justin admits that Blue October is not an easy band to understand. "It's like, let me clue you in on what it feels like in my brain" he says. "Into the Ocean" from the last album, openly contemplates a death wish. Fans write and send email to the band claiming that tracks like this have prevented their own suicidal impulses. The band has maintained a loyal following through five albums - due largely to the fact that they don't hold back. Using his apocalyptic and poetic style, Justin keeps fans intrigued with his openness, contributing to the band's cult-like following. Blue October continues to captivate listeners craving sincerity with their unpredictability and eclecticism with their latest single, "She's My Ride Home" is currently topping the charts.
The band started out playing gigs at local watering holes like Jackies Tavern in Bacliff and Splash. It didn't take very long for listeners to realize there was a lot of talent there. On the strength of their last several albums, the band is now one of the most popular rock groups in the world. Justin and the rest of the band give 100% of the credit for their success to the fans who support them. They have fans who follow them wherever they play - a fact that was noted by Jimmy Kimmel when they appeared on his show a few months back. Kimmel was astonished to see hundreds of Houston-area fans who made the trip to cheer for their band.
Incidentally, back in 2001, their song "Amnesia" was featured in the playlist of TexasTop40.com, before the band was well-known. It made the top 5 that year.
Cindy Miller for TxHome.org