Blue October’s Justin Furstenfeld has entered his forties with an aggressively joyful mind-set.
The Houston-born rocker is now happily married, living in San Marcos with his wife and two young children. He has established himself as a husband and a father, and his music has consequently turned another corner to reflect as much.
“I wouldn’t say this is a happy album,” Furstenfeld says of Home, which was released today. “It’s me saying, 'This is what I want out of life, and I’m going to get it. So just move out of the way if you’re trying to keep me from it.’”
His band’s last album, 2013’s Sway, was about rebirth and sobriety. Having learned to walk on his own two feet again, Furstenfeld says Home is about finding inner peace and making the most out of the rest of his life.
“I want to be a better person every day than I was the day before,” he says. “For my friends and for my children. And that’s where I took this album.”
With Home, Furstenfeld’s goal is to show fans that he can be just as creative and passionate of a songwriter when he’s in a good place as he was when he was in a dark one.
“This album is an example of how you can live hard and love hard,” he says. “And you can be a husband hard and live every aspect of life hard.”
But his positive attitude notwithstanding, Furstenfeld is still a perfectionist. Those who have worked with him professionally, he says, might even call him an asshole.
“Ask people who have worked with me in the studio, and they might see me as a control freak or a perfectionist,” Furstenfeld says. “But I learned that at HSPVA — to give 110 percent or get off the stage, because we’re not here to paint a pretty picture; we’re here to make people feel.”
Home is brimming with feelings. But happy songs are an especially difficult variety, because they can come across as bubblegum. Furstenfeld knows this, so instead of just writing an upbeat song, he dove into his happiness, sought out the demons underneath and wrestled them down.
He says it was like inviting all his enemies over for a bonfire in his backyard, where everyone threw their baggage onto the fire and talked it out. It's a far cry from the breakthrough Foiled era, when Furstenfeld begged ex-lovers to hate him.
“I think back to the Foiled days, and what I was doing was regurgitating that pain,” Furstenfeld says. “And that’s what people were drawn to in those days. It was, ‘Oh, look at this tortured soul.’ But what an amazing thing to be able to find a way out of that and be just as passionate, even more passionate about the light than the dark.”
For Furstenfeld, it took being plunged into darkness to eventually see the light. But he is proud of where he came from, excited about the future and thoroughly enjoying the present.
He recognizes that not everyone will buy into what he’s selling. It won’t resonate with everyone, and some naysayers will undoubtedly question its authenticity. But that’s perfectly all right with him.
“You can’t change anyone,” Furstenfeld says. “But I’ll pray for you if you’re negative.”
Blue October will host an acoustic in-store performance tomorrow at Barnes and Noble in The Woodlands Mall at 1 p.m.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.