Justin Furstenfeld of Blue October Talks "Crazy Making", New Music, and More
Fri, 26 Apr 2013 12:39:53
Blue October Videos
"It's not like I have answers, but I can share my experience, strength, and hope with people," Blue October frontman Justin Furstenfeld of his book Crazy Making and current solo acoustic and reading tour. "Maybe everyone there can walk away going, 'Yeah, I'm not alone after all'."
That's the most powerful thing about Justin's book. It's just as impactful, incisive, and invigorating as his music. Right now, he's bringing it to audiences on an up-close-and-personal tour, playing acoustically, reading passages, taking questions, and allowing fans into his world. The tome itself is a must-read, and it's bound to inspire.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Justin Furstenfeld of Blue October talks Crazy Making, new music, and so much more.
Was writing Crazy Making similar to writing music? Your music has always been confessional, honest, and real.
I guess people would call my lyrics really honest to the point of, "Ouch! Wow, it's a bit uncomfortable to listen to that". When I wrote Crazy Making, it was a chance to look back at each one of the songs. The good thing about the book is I can see where I was when I wrote the songs. It was a chance to step outside of the song and go, "That was me back then?!" I tried to be as honest as I could, but explain things in simpler terms. It was a chance for me to step outside of myself. When you're writing a song, it might be dramatic or brutally honest, and you don't really think about the walls around it. You put all of the walls down and go, "There's the song!" Then, you vomit it out. Writing the book, I got the chance to go back and say, "Wow, that's where I was!" I wanted to explain why or where I was at the time. It was completely different because writing the song was more abstract. When I was writing the book, I was trying to explain where I was and what happened at that point. They're two different things though.
When did you feel the vision for the book came into focus?
Any Man in America was the darkest two years of my life. It was really hard to write that album and be so honest, but it needed to be done. We were listening to the new record in the bus last night. My road manager was like, "This is so different from Any Man in America. All of your records are different though because you're at a different place in your life". Then he said, "Any Man in America was a concept album that needed to be done for you to speak on where you were in life". When I finished Any Man in America, something had to happen for me personally because I was in such a dark place. I knew that ten months after the record when I made some major changes in my life and I started to feel that sense of serenity and peace, that was a good time to close the door on the book and share that so there would be a light at the end of the tunnel. I would've hated to end it on Any Man in America and have everyone say, "Damn, what a sad story!" There is a success story, happiness, and peace behind it though. That's why I wanted to put it out before this album. I wanted to leave it up to the wind to see where I go from here living this new life of calm and serenity. I'm putting the things behind me that need to be put behind me.
So the book was part of that cleansing process?
Yes! If I ended it on the last album, it would've been a tragedy! Who I am today is an example of what I want people to see can happen in their lives. We have fans that are brutally honest like us. The people who support us need a light at the end of the tunnel like I do. This was a good place to stop the book with some of the principals I take on in my life now.
Where did the title come from?
It was a term I heard a ways back. My grandfather was in a relationship with my step-grandmother, and they called it Crazy Making. I'd always ask my mom and dad, "How come I can't see my grandfather?" The way they explained it is there's such emotional and mental manipulation in a relationship that you start to believe what the other person tells you and you no longer live your own life. You basically live in the shadow of somebody else's thoughts and poison in their own head. They basically control you. The definition of that is Crazy Making. When I heard it, I was like, "That's probably one of the most helpless feelings in the world". You're in a relationship or a marriage and you're pushed beyond belief to the mental and emotional manipulation that you start to believe the negative poison they put in your head. I thought it was the saddest thing. When my mom told me that was what my grandfather was going through, it shined light on where I was at the time. It takes it to the lowest level. There's a hope at the end. You can get your mind and thoughts back. You can live your own life. It reminds me of who I don't want to be anymore.
The book is inspiring at the end of the day. Readers will get a lot out of it similar to the release they receive from the music.
I appreciate that! I grew up reading Edgar Allan Poe and things like that. I love Basquiat. They were so good at being vivid with their art. I thought, "Why can't I do that?" I wanted to speak my mind to let people know it wasn't just rock 'n' roll. There was some poetry, meaning, hurt, pain, serenity, and peace behind it.
What's the direction of the new Blue October music?
It's a lot heavier sonically, beats-wise, melody-wise, and guitar-wise. Lyrically, it's empowering. I need to write an album on recognizing the negative, throwing it away, and moving forward. The world these days needs a kick in the butt to know life is good. I've been promoting life being hard, and it's going to be such a difference for us. It doesn't have to be shit all the time. It's completely different. We celebrate the things we do in life that we look over every day like time with friends, accomplishments, sex, and empowering yourself to get over obstacles you had that you don't need anymore. You realize you're better than them. It's saying that final "fuck you" to anything negative that was bringing you down and moving forward. We want to be put in the category of people who know what they're talking about not just people who are so fucking dramatic all the time.
What's your favorite Blue October song?