Blue October's Justin Furstenfeld: "I’m just a white-trash boy who likes to smell good"

Blue October pictured backstage
(Image credit: Dave Arnold)

When it comes to Blue October’s singer Justin Furstenfeld, it’s difficult to square the man with the music. Spinning The Truth Around Part 1, the eleventh album from the Texan band who formed in 1995, is resolutely straight-faced, its yearning electro-rock coming on like Bruce Springsteen discovering a modular synth. 

Yet by Furstenfeld’s own admission, while he takes the music seriously, he reserves the right to be extremely silly in interviews.

Alt

What are your favourite memories from recording the latest album?

It was hilarious, because the songs are so serious that we would make jokes out of them. So every single song has some X-rated version too. When it comes to the material, we’re professional. But when it comes to attitude, we have mouths like a sailor.

It’s an emotional album. Do you cry easier as you get older?

No. Actually I don’t cry any more. It’s kinda weird. Maybe it’s the Paxil [antidepressant] that I’m on. Because I just don’t cry. I used to cry a lot. But now I’m just kinda like, the world is so beautiful and life is good.

You describe the title track of the album as “like Springsteen saying goodbye to someone”.

Well, that was me being a little pretentious, I guess. I love Springsteen’s love songs, the way they sound like they just rolled off his tongue because that was what he was going through.

Blue October have more than a billion streams. When the band started out all those years ago, did you ever think it would reach that level?

Yeah, definitely. When I was a kid I always told my mom it didn’t matter if I was famous or anything, I just wanted to write music and have a backpack full of songs.

At the start, did you get grief for not sounding like a traditional Texas band?

[Mishearing the question] The only thing I get grief about is that we got big when the American knuckle-dragging rock got big. So now, whenever you listen to Spotify, we’ll have a song like Spinning The Truth Around, and then, right after it, Godsmack comes on. And I’m like: “What the hell?” [Adopts meathead voice] I got beef, man, with streaming services and their stupid algorithms!

This year you played a villain in the action movie Section 8.

I’m trying to get my feet wet in the acting business in America. Right now I only accept roles that are bad guys. Because I’m such a sweetheart and teddy bear that I like going around and stabbing people in the throat.

Blue October are coming to the UK in April. Are you excited by that?

The UK is my favourite freaking place in the world. You know what you have that no one else has? Penhaligon’s. It’s a perfumery that was started in the UK, that Winston Churchill used to wear. I’m obsessed with smells, right? So whenever I go to London, I go to Penhaligon’s and I’m in heaven.

That’s the first time a rock star has told me that.

What were you expecting me to say? [Ozzy voice] “I love all the drugs and naked bodies”? Not me. I’m just a white-trash boy who likes to smell good.

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Henry Yates

Henry Yates has been a freelance journalist since 2002 and written about music for titles including The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer. He is the author of Walter Trout's official biography, Rescued From Reality, a music pundit on Times Radio and BBC TV, and an interviewer who has spoken to Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Dave Grohl, Marilyn Manson, Kiefer Sutherland and many more.