Blue October | Forever Blue

blue-october_cd.jpgThis month Blue October releases Approaching Normal, its title, no doubt, characteristic of its songwriter’s state of mind…for now.







I’ve long been a fan of Blue October. I remember when they were playing street fairs, college cafeterias, small nightclubs. Now, of course, the Texas quintet plays arenas, festivals, heavy-hitting radio stations.

Though each member’s talented and very much a part of the whole, Blue October would be nothing without the raw, honest songwriting of Justin Furstenfeld. Through the songs he lays his l bare: addiction, self-doubt, abuse, angst—any part of his life is fair game. Though he’s dabbled in normal life—love, family, security—lyrically, he keeps coming back to the raw aching. "There’s a lot of things happening in my life right now," he admits, a concession that seems to be the norm. "I thought I was happy, but it falls apart when you don’t even know it. I haven’t seen my daughter in two months; it’s driving me crazy." Before you can feel too sorry for him, though, he concedes, "It’s OK. I can write about it; I can talk about it."

This month Blue October releases Approaching Normal—its title, no doubt, characteristic of its songwriter’s state of mind…for now—its fifth studio album and its fourth for Universal Records. (In a Wilco-esque turn, Blue October was signed to Universal for Consent to Treatment, then dropped, then resigned after a very successful self-release of History for Sale, which the label immediately reissued.)

Whereas its prior release, Foiled, was a slick, smooth display of Furstenfeld’s talents—its songs included the angry rock/active rock by which Blue October built its reputation, but also downright pop songs, even a foray into soul—Approaching Normal is the opposite; this release is rawer, rough around the edges.

"Foiled was a very layered album about grief," says Furstenfeld. "With this album, Steve Lillywhite wanted to simplify. Approaching Normal captures the raw emotion of each member."

Let’s get one thing straight: Blue October is a pop band, albeit one with serious active rock tendencies. Their reputation is as an aggressive rock band, a label that all but overlooks the band’s strength in variety. I ask Furstenfeld if this oversight bothers him. "As long as people listen, that’s all that matters. If we’re labeled active rock and that’s the way we make money, that’s fine with me."

Though the albums are well assembled and addictive in their own right, Furstenfeld’s preference leans more toward live shows. "I love the studio because you can do whatever you want," he says. "I [also] love the stage, because it’s the only part of my life that I can control."

Still, he admits the fact that touring gets more and more draining as time goes on. "Life on the road as you get older, it’s a little bit harder."

How does he, then, keep it together while touring? He answers that one quickly, without hesitation: "Medication." | Laura Hamlett


Blue October on tour

03.18 | House of Blues, San Diego
03.19 | House of Blues, Las Vegas
03.21 | Club Nokia, Los Angeles
03.22 | House of Blues, Anaheim
03.25 | Fillmore, San Francisco
03.26 | Crystal Ballroom, Portland
03.27 | Showbox, Seattle
03.28 | Knitting Factory, Spokane
03.31 | The Depot, Salt Lake City
04.01 | Ogden Theater, Denver
04.03 | Sokol Hall, Omaha
04.05 | The Pageant, St. Louis
04.06 | Liberty Hall, Lawrence
04.10-11 | Stubb’s, Austin
04.20 | House of Blues, New Orleans
04.22 | Janus Landing, Tampa
04.23 | House of Blues, Orlando
04.24 | House of Blues, Myrtle Beach
04.27 | 9:30 Club, Washington, D.C.
04.29 | Theater of Living Arts, Philadelphia
05.01 | Webster Hall, New York
05.02 | Lupo’s, Providence

About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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