Blue October Talks "Any Man In America"
Wed, 31 Aug 2011 11:58:36
"I had to this say to get it out of my way and tell my daughter Blue where I was," declares Blue October frontman Justin Furstenfeld of his band's new masterpiece, Any Man In America.
He doesn't spare any of the gritty details of his brutal divorce on the group's latest album, and that's precisely why it's such a bruising, beautiful, and brilliant record. Elegant synths roll alongside Furstenfeld's divine delivery for songs that are simultaneously harmonious and haunting. It's a must-have record and the best of Blue October's career to date.
In this exclusive interview, Blue October mainman Justin Furstenfeld spoke to ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino about Any Man In America, movies, hip hop, and so much more…
Did you have any kind of conception of Any Man In America from the beginning? Did you discover it as you went along?
It was the first time that I'd ever written while something was happening to me. I was writing along the way. At the very end, I thought the idea could be about getting over being a selfish prick and abusing drugs. When I did this album, I was with Steve Lillywhite recording Approaching Normal. I'd be home at night. I told my wife and child to come down and stay with me at lake house where we were recording in Austin, because it was the only time we could be together for a little while. It'd be like a normal day. She never came though. I started wondering what was going on then and I wrote "For the Love". It was a weekend that she could've been there. I was like, "Why wouldn't she be here? Why wouldn't she want to stay in a lake house and listen to the record as it's being recorded?" The more it went on, the more I got confused. I thought, "Why are we even married if you don't want to be around me?" It was life-altering. Now she's done that, and I'd write about it. After "The Flight", I had to do something about it or I knew I'd be a mental case trying to regain control of my life.
Was making the album your way to regain control?
Yeah, it was the only thing I did. When I went outside of this room I'm sitting in now, it was hell. I didn't like it at all. I was forcing myself to write a piece for Blue on the piano every morning. I couldn't sleep. I'd write a piece of piano music every morning so when she got older, I could say, "That's where I was. I'm sorry." Her mom would be angry all the time because I wasn't there. I kept writing these parts. After a while, I stopped writing. I had no inspiration except for despair and anxiety that was when I had to push that, keep writing, and challenging myself. I found new ways of doing things musically. It was like therapy for me. I had to go into my studio because I knew it was comforting. If I went outside, all I could think about was my baby because it seemed like everybody had a baby around me. It freaked me out.
What's the story behind "The Chills"?
Musically, it was written like a cheesy acoustic song [Laughs]. On "The Chills", I'm like, "Why do I have to feel these chills?" I'm angry. It's not a compliment anymore. It's hard and angry. There's not one hint of violin or piano. I just thought of Ducky and Molly Ringwald when I wrote it. There was an '80s vibe to it.
Did you know "The Follow Through" would close everything out?
I'm talking to my ex. We've got lay things down because I'm going to follow through. My daughter is everything I've ever wanted to be—innocent. All of my happiness is in her. After "The Worry List", I'm basically writing to Blue that I might've been gone but I never walked out. There's a bunch of stories you just heard. When you get older and listen to this, you might be mad at me for putting this out, but I wanted you to hear the truth. After that, it's "The Follow Through". It's not about who sees it, but what you do and how you follow through with everything you say to that little girl. If you don't show up, you're such an asshole. I want to smack every dad who could possibly be there to see their kid and didn't show up. That's just horrible. If I'm granted time, I'll fly up there and be with her because she's so perfect and I love being with her.
Is it important for you to tell stories when you write songs?
I went to high school for theater, and I remember listening to Morrissey, The Smiths, The Cure, and Bauhaus. However, I was also listening to hip hop. I see it in my head like a movie that's why it gets so visual and honest. Why aren't people bluntly honest? I did a lot of sequencing and sampling. I taught myself so I could write outside of the box not with an acoustic guitar or piano. I wanted to start with a fat beat. It's schizophrenic but positive.
What are some of your favorite films?
I love the story of Basquiat where Andy Warhol is played by David Bowie. You're going to laugh at me, but The Mothman Prophecies is probably the only movie that's ever scared me. Stand By Me was always one of my favorite movies growing up. Then I like watching Beef with how all of the hip hop guys fight.
If your album were a movie or a combination of movies, what would it be?
I'd say Basquiat or American Gangster. Denzel Washington finally plays a bad guy. He just walks up to the guy in the restaurant and shoots him. That's a good question.
Which rappers do you come back to?
I love Jay-Z of course. I also love Waka Flocka Flame. His shit's funny. I like the confident people like Game. I'm all about the beefs. The rappers do it so well [Laughs]. I even wear a big chain with a diamond cross. I found God when Blue was born.
Have you heard Any Man In America yet?
See our review of the album here!