Blue October frontman is making the most of second chances, and he’s happy

Blue October has released the new album, “I Hope You’re Happy.”
Blue October has released the new album, “I Hope You’re Happy.”

“I Hope You’re Happy,” the title of Blue October’s newest album, might sound ironic, given the band’s name.

But the name reflects how frontman Justin Furstenfeld feels these days.

“I’ve been happy for nearly seven years, but right now I’m really happy and I think the music we make and play reflects that,” Furstenfeld says while calling from his San Marcos, Texas, home. “There’s a big reason I’ve been so happy.”

Furstenfeld has been sober since May 10, 2012. “I’ll never forget that date,” Furstenfeld says. “I was a desperate person and my life has changed so much since then. That’s why I feel the way I do. I know it’s not the usual rock and roll story.”

The musician said drugs and alcohol don’t fuel creativity.

“Have you ever met a successful meth head or heroin addict?” Furstenfeld says. “What ultimately happens to those people is they either end up in jail, in an institution or are dead. There is nothing as awful as being messed up on some horrific substances.”

After using drugs since he was a teenager, Furstenfeld said he cleaned up for his family, music and health.

“I want to be around for my kids,” Furstenfeld says. “I have a 12-, 6- and 3-year-old, and they need a responsible father. And then there is my music. I’m a much better writer now and it makes sense because I’m not dealing with depression and addiction like I was. If you listen to what I wrote and recorded after I became sober, you can hear the difference.”

That’s evident on 2013’s “Sway,” which features catchy rock songs — a step in a more positive direction for Furstenfeld. The cuts from “Sway” are a far cry from the Texas band’s post-grunge recorded after the turn of the century.

“I Hope You’re Happy” features anthemic, baroque rock, a more provocative sound than what Furstenfeld composed earlier in their career.

“I completely believe that the straighter you are, the better you can be as a songwriter,” Furstenfeld says. “I’ve never been happier than I am now as a songwriter. I’ve experienced so much in my life that I can write about it and I think what I do sonically is better since I’m in a good space.

”It’s not about living out of my ego,” he said. “Those days are long gone. I realize this band would not exist if it weren’t for my bandmates who have helped keep this group alive.”

The members of Blue October include multi-instrumentalist Ryan Delahoussaye; Furstenfeld’s brother Jeremy Furstenfeld on drums; bassist Matt Noveskey; and guitarist Will Knaak. They’re all fans of Radiohead, The Smiths and The Cure, who have provided inspiration.

Furstenfeld once questioned whether he survived his struggles, but now he’s making the most of his second chance. “It was not a slam dunk that I would live this long but now that I’m here,” he said. “I’m very fortunate and I just want to make the most of my time. That means I just want to take some chances with this band and move in some different directions.”


Who: Blue October

When: April 24, 8 p.m.

Where: Lincoln Theatre, 126 E. Cabarrus St., Raleigh

Tickets: $28.

Info: 919-821-4111 or lincolntheatre.com

Related stories from Durham Herald Sun