Fans often connect deeply to Blue October through frontman Justin Furstenfeld's intense, cathartic lyrics. He recently opened up to Alternative Addiction about his struggles with alcoholism and how sobriety improved his life.
The difference can be heard on the change between the last two Blue October albums. Of his headspace surrounding their 2011 album Any Man In America, Justin said, “I had that moment in my life where I was rock-bottom. That last album wasn’t made for radio, it wasn’t made for fans, it wasn’t made for labels, it was made for my daughter to know where the hell I was and know what I was doing." Much of that album addressed Justin's divorce and custody battle. "It destroyed me and destroyed who I was," Justin added.
After making Any Man... and during the subsequent tour Justin's drinking escalated until his current wife called him out.
“It took my wife looking at me and saying, ‘Nobody grieves like this, you’re a hypocrite. You’re supposed to be a person that people can actually look up to. You need to clean your shit up and pick yourself up off the floor and realize that there’s more important things in life than just what you go through.' That really smacked me in the face. I had to take some time to evaluate my situation. I never thought that I was an alcoholic, I thought I could control it. It was when I tried to stop drinking and I couldn’t, that’s when it was a big life changer. I had to get some help, and I did. And when we made this new album, I was a completely different person. I live a completely sober life now. Before, I never realized that alcohol was doing anything to me. I never dealt with life on life’s terms. I always just ran with the ball no matter what it was. I put it out there, and if you didn’t like it, ‘f___ you.’ Life’s not about that. Life’s about getting through things and sticking together through hard times. It felt like with that last album I couldn’t have taken my fans any lower. With this album, I wanted to show people there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a beautiful life and I'm blessed to have it. I wake up now and I can’t believe I took it that far."
Writing sober was his next challenge.
“When we started recording this album, it was harder because I had never written anything without a glass of wine, or without a joint... It was tough and thorough work to write. But when I got done with it, I was so much more proud of it than anything else I had done. This was coming from me and I didn’t need anything to cheat my way through it.”
With over four hundred days of sobriety under his belt Justin is trying to reconcile his clean lifestyle with the temptations of touring. He mandates a dry bus on the road, and he attends an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting before every show. "Now that I have a year and three months clean, life's not that hard. It's amazing actually."
Check out Alternative Addiction's full interview with Justin Furstenfeld here.