Interview: Justin Furstenfeld of Blue October

Justin Furstenfeld is not only one of the best singers in the rock world today, but he is also one of the nicest human beings you’ll ever meet.

But it hasn’t always been fun and games for the 41-year-old Houston native whose band Blue October has been around since 1995 and continues to sell out shows nationwide.

Furstenfeld has struggled with addiction, depression and relationships. He will tell stories about his personal journey as well as play his guitar and sing some of Blue October’s biggest hits like “Into the Ocean,” “Hate Me,” “Home,” “Calling You” and “Say It” in their rawest form in an intimate setting Saturday, Sept. 30, at the Jefferson Theatre at 8 p.m. in a show he titles “An Open Book: An Evening with Justin Furstenfeld of Blue October.”

“I always look forward to the spoken word/solo shows,” said Furstenfeld. “The fact that I’m sitting just a few feet away from the audience, that there are no rules as to what they ask me, or that I don’t have boundaries on my answers, is what is exciting to me. I’m hoping that the evening will give everyone a chance to dig deep, connect and explore the dark corners of why honesty, no matter how brutal, remains one of the most beautiful aspects of being human. Through poetry, music and conversation, we heal. Why not do it together?”

PHOTOS from “An Evening with Justin Furstenfeld” by David Block –

I had the chance to speak with Furstenfeld over the phone. Topics ranged from his upcoming Beaumont show to Big Dog 106’s first Texas Dog Jam, a yearly concert series that back in 2001 features the likes of the Union Underground, The Hunger, Pushmonkey and Vallejo, all of which were Texas-based bands.

Many rock bands got their start in Houston and hit the national scene, but then couldn’t maintain the level of success that Blue October has.

It’s simple — ego. I took the ego out of the equation after we sold all those records early on and I realized if I was going to last after that, I would either become a has-been or become one of those bands that worked harder than any other band. You also have to change with the times and work harder on touring, streaming and on merchandise. Don’t stop working. Stop putting unhealthy stuff in your body and start putting healthy stuff in. Get active. Like now, don’t put a power chord in a song right now; power chords aren’t good. Simple as that. I’d love to play modern rock right now. Guess what? It’s not happening right now. Ego will keep you from growing, man.

So many fans love the lyrics of every song you have written. What is your approach on writing new songs?

When I am not on tour, I normally wake up at 6 a.m. with my kids, we take a walk, then I take them to school. I’ll come home for coffee, then go walk for 3 miles and listen to the music I made the night before. I’ll then go into the studio from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. every single day and I’ll put down whatever is in my head. If I’m not in the studio and I have a little melody in my head, I will sing it into my IPhone. I put a beat to it then trim it down to 3:30 and send it to my engineer. He sends it back so I can listen to it on my morning walk tomorrow. I’ll keep stack and stacking those things. I constantly keep moving forward.

Many successful bands have tired the acoustic thing and it never really has worked out, while you have been able to make this work.

The first time I did one of these type shows is when I was about 80 days sober. The rule was, be honest. I didn’t want to just look cool on stage. I wanted to talk about every single thing in my life that makes you uncomfortable. I talked about why I was so nervous; everything that happened in my divorce and how it was my fault that it failed; talked about cheating; talked about using. I wanted people to know who are sitting in their seats that I was being honest. It’s really grown over the last five years.

Anything new from Blue October?

Dude, I just wrote and recorded and mixed our next new single, and it’s ready. The title is “I Hope You’re Happy.” It’s going to be a heart-tugger. I just have to wait until 2018 because of our record deal. It’s better than “Home,” by far. I already have four songs down for the album. It’s so dang good. I am so inspired how good life can be if you just let it.

Harvey is still on a lot of people’s minds. How will coming out to this performance help them?

It’s funny that you say that because this show is about the day my life changed — when I found sobriety and faith. It’s not about just singing songs; it’s a spoken word storytelling show, and I want to take their mind off everything they are going through right now. I let them in on a little story about some struggles I have gone through, and through God, faith and good people, I made it out the other side and live a beautiful and blessed life today. At least for two hours, their minds will be taken off the devastation of Harvey.


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