Originally formed in 1996, Blue October is a Texas-based rock band. They are best known for the songs "Hate Me" and "Into the Ocean" from their album Foiled, which was certified gold. In VH1.com, Gil Kaufman described the band's music, saying that it "blends industrial beats with classical arrangements, and whisper-to-a-scream vocals."
Blue October was formed in 1996 when lead singer and guitarist Justin Furstenfeld and his brother, drummer Jeremy Furstenfeld, got together with their friend Ryan Delahoussaye, who played several instruments. They later added C.B. Hudson, a guitarist and singer, and Matt Noveskey, a bass player. Hudson had been influenced by heavy metal and blues. Delahoussaye was a classically trained violinist who played in a country style and whose onstage presence was in sharp contrast to the popular notion of a violinist: he wore glued-on devil horns and had a dragon tattoo on his back. Noveskey's background was in R&B and funk. Although Jeremy Furstenfeld had never played drums until the band's first album, he found that he had a knack for drumming and expanded his skills with each of the group's albums. Justin Furstenfeld, who went to a performing arts high school, wrote most of the band's songs and was known for his sharply painful and honest lyrics.
"That's When Our Lives Changed"
The band's name came from a turning point in Justin Furstenfeld's life. His musical heroes had included people like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kurt Cobain, and Elliott Smith, all of whom died young from suicide or drugs. He and other members of the band were doing drugs because they thought that was what rockers were supposed to do. But as Furstenfeld told Kaufman, "As I abused drugs I realized they were driving me nuts." He added, "In October of [the year when I was 21] I realized I had to clean myself up and do something positive. That's when our lives changed."
The new band was managed by Jeremy and Justin's parents, who called themselves "RoDan Entertainment." The group released their first album, The Answers, in 1998, despite the fact that Justin had had a very difficult year in 1997. As C.B. Hudson told Jonathan Dean in Associated Content, Justin was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1997: "He was actually working as a supervisor in a mental health facility. He went through a dark period that year, where he went from an employee to a patient for a few weeks." Hudson added, "Yes, Justin is on Paxil, but he feels that the brutal honesty of his lyrics are his true therapy."
One of the band's fans had a connection with the local Houston, Texas, ABC television station, and through this fan, the band gave a performance during the early morning news show. It was their first live performance and helped spur sales of the album, which sold over 5,000 copies in Houston alone.
In 1999 Blue October signed with Universal Records, which released their second album, Consent to Treatment, in 2000. In 2002 Universal dropped the band, and their third album, History for Sale, was picked up by Brando Records.
A song from this album, "Calling You," was featured on the soundtrack to the movie American Wedding, and as a result the band began to receive wider attention and exposure. Because of this success, Universal invited them back, and they accepted. On the group's Myspace page, Justin Furstenfeld wrote of this decision: "I just felt at Universal, we had a team of people who understood us, and who loved us for all the right reasons. I wasn't about to walk through life with people who didn't really know me."
"Blue October Has Broken Through"
In 2006 Blue October had another hit, the single "Hate Me," which hit the number 2 spot on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart. The song came from their 2006 album Foiled and described a relationship that collapsed because one person's problems with drug addiction drove the other person away. In Billboard, Christa L. Titus praised the song's "painfully honest lyrics" and Justin Furstenfeld's "intense vocal delivery." Chuck Taylor wrote in Billboard that the song's success made it apparent that "Blue October has broken through," and he predicted success for the band. The band played "Hate Me" on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and also on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Because of their success with Foiled, Blue October expanded their touring and playing in 2006, although the start of the tour was delayed because Justin Furstenfeld broke his leg while running the bases at a baseball stadium where the band had performed. Although the band had originally played mostly in Texas and the Midwest, they began touring throughout the United States as well as in Canada, Mexico, England, Germany, and the Netherlands. In November of 2006 they were the opening act for a Rolling Stones concert in Boise, Idaho.
The band is generally well received, but when they are not, they know how to deal with hecklers. Justin Furstenfeld told Kaufman that he wears eyeliner on stage, and that during a concert in Lubbock, Texas, one listener was upset by it: "This big cowboy up front said, ‘You queer, what are you doing! I'll show you what people in Texas do to people like you.’ So, I started blowing him kisses, which made him even madder."
For the Record …
Members include: Ryan Delohoussaye , violin, mandolin, keyboard, vocals; Jeremy Furstenfeld , drums; Justin Furstenfeld , vocals, guitar; C.B. Hudson , lead guitar, vocals; and Matt Noveskey , bass, vocals.
Formed in 1996; released The Answers, 1998; Consent to Treatment, 2000; History for Sale, 2003; Argue with a Tree, 2004; Foiled, 2006.
Addresses: Record company—Universal Records, 1755 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.
Justin Furstenfeld told Kaufman that the band's fans have let them know how powerful their music is: "These two brothers came up to us at a show once and one of them had been having problems and looking for an easy way out. He said he heard our song and it was so powerful he changed his mind." Furstenfeld said the two brothers then took off their shirts and showed him their matching tattoos, which said, "For My Brother," and thanked him for saving their lives. He added, "That's when it hits you that [being in a band is] not about money or women or drugs." Jeremy Furstenfeld wrote on the group's Myspace page, "Our fans really make us what we are. We have a tight bond with them. Many have become our friends through the years. To see them sing these songs right back at us as we play them is amazing. It blows me away any time."
The Answers, 1998.
Consent to Treatment, Universal, 2000.
History for Sale, Brando Records, 2003.
Argue with a Tree, Universal, 2004.
Foiled, Universal, 2006.
Billboard, March 18, 2006, p. 60; May 6, 2006, p. 38; May 13, 2006, p. 82; August 12, 2006, p. 76; December 16, 2006, p. 44.
"An Interview with C.B. Hudson of Blue October," Associated Content, December 19, 2006, http://www.associatedcontent.com/pop_print.shtml?content_type=article&content_type_id=102232 (February 16, 2007).
"Blue October: Brain Scan and Heart Throb," VH1,http://www.vh1.com/artists/interview/1483984/20031231/blue_october_rock_.html (February 16, 2007).
Blue October Myspace Page, http://www.myspace.com/blueoctober (February 13, 2007).
Blue October Official Website, http://www.blueoctoberfan.com/foiled/biography.php (February 13, 2007).