Blue October continue to cement themselves as one of the hardest working rock bands in the industry, From working on their tenth studio album, This Is What I Live For (via Up/Down-Brando Records), which is slated to be released on September 18 to the recently released Get Back Up Documentary, the band just keeps on going even during quarantine.
Justin is also connecting with thousands of people across the country who tune in each Tuesday as he goes live on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram for a weekly ‘Recovery Discussion‘. Justin’s show covers topics ranging from depression, mental health, isolation and recovery for addictions of all kinds. He and the band has also been performing live shows online via StageIt.
During a recent interview with frontman Justin Furstenfeld, he told Music Mayhem about their forthcoming tenth studio album ‘This Is What I Live For,’ their ‘Get Back Up‘ Documentary that details the longevity of their career, the Christmas album in the works, how he’s staying proactive during the band’s time off the road and much more. Read the full interview below.
We could not have been more impressed with the Get Back Up Documentary, it was so raw, it brought us to tears. Was it hard to share that much of yourself?
For me, no, cause I guess I have always been like a cereal confessor. So, it was not hard for me to share it cause I was trying to make sense of my life at the time it was being filmed. We filmed over a period of seven years. The first interview was done at like a year sober, like this brand new, little baby boy who never knew what relationships were, didn’t know what love meant or what intimacy was or anything. I just knew drugs, drugs, drugs and depression and downward spiral and darkness. Then you see it grow over seven years, you start learning new things of what you’ve down to each person during your twenty something years of addiction. And it was just eye opening cause I wasn’t allowed to watch it till it was done, I wasn’t allowed to know what anybody said in their interviews or anything. So when I watched it, I was just gutted, like I had to get up like six times and go outside and smoke a cigarette and just be like what in the hell have I done to these people. It was crazy, it was really crazy and watching my brother say “I’ve never been in an abused relationship but I know what one is like,” I am just like oh f-ck. It was hard.
I told the guy, if we’re really gonna this we got to do it honestly, nobody can look pretty, nobody can spice it up, it has to be honest. So I’m glad that he kept it quiet, cause he could’ve come up to me and said dude you really messed your brother up, y’all should go talk. But he didn’t he let that play out naturally through working the twelve steps and he let everybody’s life happen – Children were born, marriages were put back together and relationships were glued back together. So it was probably one of the coolest things that I’ve ever been apart of, I am just so blessed that they didn’t let me take control over it, cause I’m a control freak.
That had to be hard to release the reigns a little bit and think alright this is gonna be my life but someone else’s vision.
It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, I had the chance to Steve Lillywhite once, you know U2’s producer and I sat right next to him and questioned everything he did and the guy hated me. It’s like I don’t care who you are, like you better be doing this album right, like I’m a control freak. And when it comes to music and art, I’m good at it and sometimes I am considered an asshole and I like that control but when it came to this, I knew that I couldn’t sit there and direct this, I couldn’t do that, there’s no way I could do that, that would definitely not be good for the film.
You’re without a doubt one of the busiest guys that I’ve spoken to during quarantine, and all this terrible stuff that’s going on. You have the documentary, you’re doing these weekly discussions on recovery topics and all that and then there’s is a new album on the way too. It is fantastic, you’re definitely keeping busy.
Yeah, I have to. I am so freakin’ weird bipolar, I have to take my meds, I have to go jogging, I have to meditate then I have to work, work, work, work and then I come home and then I see my kids, put them all to bed. It’s crazy, I have like a religious thing, like every night I go outside and I have a cup of hot chocolate and one cigarette and it’s weird but I have to do it. It’s so strange and I’m like babe I should thinking about start quitting smoking and she is like babe you smoke one a day like what the f-ck. Like you have a lot going on just quit when you want, like you quit Meth Justin so let’s just be.
How much material for the forthcoming new album do you have, is it finished or is there some other stuff being worked on for it?
It’s done, It’s done, It’s just being mixed right now by mr. Mark Needham, who is a genius, he’s mixed The Killers and Stevie Nicks, Dolly Parton, Chris Isaac, like you know he’s a GENIUS. This is gonna be like a rock album, I always wanted to make a rock album, I always wanted to make like my sad, cheered Disintegration album and I think that this is it, I can’t wait for this to be out.
Even the feedback from the first two singles has been incredible. Can you talk about one or two songs in particular and just talk about what the mindset was like when you were putting it together?
Well, when I was putting it together, I still struggle with depression and my meds, like I told you, I have to keep busy and it’s just always there. Depression has always been there since I was a little child. So, instead of writing about what it does, I wanted to write an album about just welcoming depression to the dinner table since he’s a part of your family and is not going anywhere, why keep him in the closet just bring him out, get to know him and maybe become friends with him and then maybe you can get along with him and try to understand why you feel certain ways all the time, so it’s like a letter written to depression, just kind of asking for a little space and then a little explanation of why the person and the depression is angry sometimes and why it’s beautifully romantic. Depression, while it can be sad, it can also be romantic, the romance of despair on a cold night just has something so sexy about it. And although you don’t enjoy it, you miss it when it’s gone.
You truly have the gift of being able to write these lyrics that touch people in so many different ways and I mean it’s gotta be surreal to you to continuously have fans come up and even new fans learn about the band and come up and say you know your music has just moved me.
I feel blessed but I don’t allow myself my go there and take that compliment throughly because once I got sober, I promised that I would take the ego out of the equation. And ever since I have been without ego or I’ve worked on my ego, I’ve made that a priority in my life, when people tell me things like that, I appreciate it but I don’t take it in and take it home with me or put it in my backpack full of feelings because I’m just like them and I’m just normal. God for some reason made me fall in love with words and romance and put them together. I always say we’re romantic art rock because I just remember listening to bands like The Cure, The Smiths and The Pixies and all these great bands that just inspired the shit out of me man. All these great bands that were never really considered rock or alternative and Peter Gabriel being one of the biggest influences in my life, he had a way about writing about grief that was just incredible. So romance is what the world revolves around, sometimes my wife says “you know, you’re just a hopeless romantic, everything isn’t like it is on movie screens” and I was like well why can’t it be. You’re just lazy. **laughs**
Well, anymore I think that genres don’t even matter as listeners, we all have the freedom to be fans of so many different things and you don’t have to be strictly a rock fan or strictly a hip hop fan or any of that. I think it is beautiful when fans can come together and listen to all different genres, then an artist doesn’t have to feel boxed.
I agree, I think that the only reasons that we have categories is for radio. Why else would you have categories? Categories are to make sales easier to come by, I mean what would you do if you had one say category, do you know how hard that would be to sort through them all.
It definitely would, So touring for you guys, obviously everything is still much up in the air. Do you guys have plans into 2021, I mean obviously COVID-19 has change the live music scene very much and I see you guys are doing a lot of the StageIt concerts which is cool. I have seen a bunch of other bands just doing paid for livestreams. Do you think that is gonna be the new norm?
No, I think touring will be touring, and when they find a vaccine for this, it will go back to normal and people will be fine. It will be greater and the industry will be even bigger for it. I just think we have a responsibility as individuals to really get out there and step out of the box and realize that we have been blessed for so many years to be able to tour to make a living that we need to start thinking of other options now like writing, teaching, mentoring, I mean the possibilities are endless of things to do to simply feed your soul and time. The possibilities are endless, it’s wether or not your proactive enough and it’s wether or not you live in a headspace of entitlement or a headspace of I’ll do whatever I’ve gotta do to feed my kids.
Absolutely, I think coming from a fan and a writers perspective, it’s just we have all these question marks but I do agree if these artists are willing to get creative enough, we’re gonna find a way to get back out there.
Yes totally, I am recording a Christmas album next, because it’s time, I am home, why the f-ck wouldn’t I record a Christmas album? It’s gonna be dark and gloomy, it’s gonna sound like Cigarettes After Sex meets Red House Band, it’s gonna be saddest f-cking Christmas album you’ve ever heard. Like you’re damn right I’m gonna put a Christmas tree up in that studio and I’m gonna pretend that Santa Claus is on the mother f-cking way and I’m gonna do it. Then guess what I’m gonna go redo Foiled, the album with Hate Me on it and I’m gonna record it acoustically and reimagined and it’s gonna be awesome. We’re gonna release that.
Like what are you doing right now to be proactive artists? There is so many beautiful things you could do. Tomorrow I am shooting a video for our new song moving on, I told the director you’ve gotta social distance yourself, and the director is like totally cool. I was like bring a drone and we’re gonna shoot it and the video is gonna be me jogging while singing right but the drone will be so far away, so it’s like get creative with your decisions, it’s time to think outside of the box, inspire people instead of bringing people down.
That is such creative idea, I was gonna ask if there’s another single coming out cause the album doesn’t officially come out till September right?
Right, well the song “Oh My My,” we didn’t think that it would be doing this good but it’s No. 18 on the charts right now. So we’re gonna see how far that sucker goes and we had to get creative on that video too, you gotta watch that video, that’s actually a crazy one. We got an animator to do it and I wrote this little piece about a modern day Van Gogh, He fell in love with this girl, he cuts his arm off and sends it to her in a package and she finds it and she spreads her wings like an angel and flies it back to him and finds him and reattaches it for him like it’s such a beautiful, dark little piece of art that I’m so proud of that.
That video definitely has a pop feel to it, but it is definitely a rock song. What was the story behind that song “Oh My My”?
Right right, Well my 12-year-old was in a middle school play, and the day I dropped her off, she just moved down from Nebraska and lives with me now. She got dropped off at middle school because I am the guy that drops her off and the first day she got out of the car and she’s that gorgeous, sad kind of chick. She looks kind of sad but has nothing to be sad about, she’s just like her dad, very mysterious and emo like me. **laughs** She gets out and all these boys turn and look thinking “who is the new chick” and I just thought to myself wow she’s that cool girl right now. The one that walks in that everybody is like who the hell is she and then on my way home I immediately wrote that song “Oh My My” thinking back into middle school when I completely fell in love with the new girl, the one in the back parking lot smoking a cigarette and just to watch her leave. That is what it was, pure innocent, fun romance, all about romance, I keep telling you that romance is what makes this freakin’ world so beautiful. Just sucking it out and putting it in a song like that, that needed to be our first single and especially during this time, thank God we put that one our first because it’s a feel good song and there’s nothing deep about this song. It’s just gonna make you smile, gonna make you shake your tushies and that is what we need right now. Something to smile, something to keep positive. Now the next song “Moving On,” that’s a self-empowering, you will not take my f-cking life from me, f-ck you I will do whatever I gotta do to be happy, look at me now I am so f-cking good, revenge is so sweet.
I am so glad to hear that your daughter moved down with you, Does it feel like your song “Home” has kind of come full circle for you?
It has and with my depression, there’s is always me going so when is the ball gonna drop, what’s gonna happen? Why are things so good? This can’t be true like something’s gonna happen to me. Something and I get paranoid like that. I start looking over my shoulder cause I am look something’s gonna happen, life is too good. Then my wife says “would you shut the f-ck up? You are a blessed man because you’re living good and you have people how love you and you’ve done all the right things, enjoy it and stop whining.” I’m like you know what you’re right and your super hot come here, let’s make out.
That’s adorable. That’s true love and it’s beautiful.
I mean you saw the documentary right, you saw my wife in there.
Other than the releases and everything, what does the rest of 2020 hold in store for you?
I am going to blow up with media information, motivation, let’s get together and talk via Instagram, via this new outlet on YouTube, Facebook, Recovery and I’m going to allow people to just join me on there and get good Facetime with people and I’m going to inspire, I’m going to create, I’m going to love and cherish as many people who will join me on these things. I think right now I need to give back for all they’ve given to me. I’m gonna give back all of 2020, I am gonna write a Christmas album then write another album, I’m gonna freakin’ film, It’s gonna be awesome man. I’m filling trails with a tractor, I’m gonna get a tractor and i’m gonna go build trails. I’m just enjoying life, stay proactive and not let anybody bring me down.