Screw October

Justin Furstenfeld orders us to hate him. We obey.

Okay, then. Surely they would tamp down the hyperbole when it came time to describe the band as a whole, right? Wrong. According to the bio, Blue October's "wide screen sound" "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 band's songs."

First off, Tripping Daisy and 13th Floor Elevators have about as much business in the same comparison as Townes Van Zandt and Dan Fogelberg or Scarface and Vanilla Ice, and all of them are about as comparable to Blue October as a jellyfish is to an eagle. And Blue October sounds nothing like Pink Floyd, Flaming Lips, U2 or Coldplay, but I have to admit they got the Peter Gabriel part right.

The bio went on to note that numerous fans had told the band that their music had checked their suicidal impulses. Quoth Furstenfeld: "If I have saved other people, I don't know what to say. But if I can do that for them, why the fuck can't I do that for myself?"

Well, you ain't dead yet, so something must be working, son.

Man, sometimes I wonder if this is all some huge parody. If Furstenfeld is half as crazy as he insists he is, no treatment center worth its warehouse full of meds would release him and tell him to go out and front a rock band. So surely it's all an act, or maybe just a partial one. Maybe Furstenfeld is crazy like a fox -- he knows this tortured-artist crap sells with the kiddies, so he plays it up, so much so that he actually now believes he's crazier than he, in fact, is.

But one thing I am certain about is this: While Furstenfeld might not be as crazy as he thinks, the world at large is much, much crazier than I think. How else to explain Blue October's runaway success? "Hate Me" was recently No. 2 on the modern rock chart, right up there with Tool, Pearl Jam, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Foo Fighters. Dude has 58,000 MySpace friends (57,600 more than I have; maybe I should start writing songs about going to see a shrink in eighth grade), and they have played "Hate Me" on the MySpace page more than 800,000 times.

But there was some good news on the MySpace front. Blue October has pretty much disavowed Houston as their hometown. In their infobox, they now claim to represent "The Great State of Texas" as opposed to Houston. Ordinarily, that would piss me off, but not in this case. And in all honesty, they really are more the Dallas type, anyway. They are ambitious to the point of crassly selling out and pretentious beyond belief. And they have a violin, as opposed to a fiddle, in the band, which positively shrieks of Dallas's high-art "We're not rednecks, we're really just like New York" airs. And the band seems to be more at home there anyway, as it was a Dallas indie label that took them in after Universal gave them the ax, it was in Dallas clubs that the band rebuilt their invincible aura, and it's a Dallas number listed as their official contact. (In the Texas Music Directory, they list San Marcos as their hometown.)

So there's what little damage control I could come up with. While in this case I cannot take up my customary anti- hipster, anti-hater stance, I can at least semi-officially sever Houston's ties with this increasingly wretched band. Dallas and San Marcos, you can have 'em.

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