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Blue October isnt just your average, everyday rock band from Texas. Formed in Houston in the late 90s by lead singer/songwriter/guitarist Justin Furstenfeld, his brother, drummer Jeremy, and devil-horned, multi-instrumentalist Ryan Delahoussaye, the groups epic live shows and exploration of subjects like mental depression, drug use, love, betrayal, forgiveness and cathartic transcendence have helped them amass a strong, loyal following through four albums.
Their new Brando/Universal album, Foiled, is their first studio effort since 2003s History for Sale, which was initially released independently by the band, selling more than 17k copies. When Calling You, which was also included on the American Wedding soundtrack, began picking up airplay in Dallas and other markets, Blue October resigned to Universal. A double-live CD/DVD, Argue with a Tree, which captured the amazingly symbiotic live relationship between the band and its fans, came out last February, 2005.
That Blue October hasnt followed the ordinary path to success is clear from the first single from Foiled, Hate Me, a song that recalls such aching rock anthems as Joy Divisions Love Will Tear Us Apart or Janes Addictions Jane Says for songwriter Justin Furstenfelds unflinching look at his own illness, which caused him to be committed to a mental hospital back on that fateful Blue October day back in 1997.
Its a song about a relationship gone badly, he explains calmly. Its about being a selfish little prick in a rock band, and just being demolished by that realization.
I have to block out thoughts of you/So I dont lose my head/They crawl in like a cockroach/Leaving babies in my bed, he sings, the images underlined by the matter-of-fact sing-song way in which theyre delivered. Its like, let me just kind of clue you in on what it feels like in my own brain, he offers.
That brand of intensity is welded to wide screen sound that evokes an array of eclectic influences such as fellow Texas psychedelic bands Tripping Daisy and 13th Floor Elevators as well as prog-rockers Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd, Flaming Lips, U2 and Coldplay, attracting a hardcore group of fans who not only relate, but ardently sing along with, the bands songs. Into the Ocean, with Delahoussayes seductive violin siren call and plucked mandolin, openly contemplates a death wish with so much honesty, fans write to the band, claiming tracks like this have prevented their own suicidal impulses.
If I have saved other people, I dont know what to say, admits Justin. But if I can do that for them, why the fuck cant I do that for myself?
Its a reasonable question to ask for Furstenfeld, whose first musical memory as a child was hearing fellow Texan Roy Orbisons plaintive Crying. That led to an interest in other melancholy groups like The Smiths, The Cure, Red House Painters and Idaho. Having been in therapy since he was 14, Justin turned to music to get away from his problems. Songs like What If We Could, about regret for a failed relationship, the apocalyptic Sound of Pulling Heaven Down and Let It Go, with its mournful Neil Young harmonica line halfway through, deal with that self-doubt in no uncertain terms, as Justin asks in the latter: Why do I feel this way?/Why do I kneel?/How could I let it go?/Why do I feel?
I dont remember writing these songs, he says. They just come out when its getting too much for me. Its like getting closure. Now, Im not so hurt about that relationship. Im actually in a better place now. Im just waiting to write that happy song. I welcome it with open arms. Its just thats not whats coming out of me now.
The only time I feel like a sane person and that Im actually meant for something, honestly, is when Im on-stage, or when Im writing. Thats the only time I feel comfortable.
Blue October came together in 1996, and released their first album, The Answers, in 1998. Now, that was a hypocritical statement, says Justin. Like, I have answers to anything
The group was signed to Universa
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