Blue October frontman Justin Furstenfeld is on tour promoting his book of lyrics and writings called "Crazy Making." The book explains what's behind many of Blue October's songs.
The tour, called "An Open Book: An Evening With Justin Furstenfeld of Blue October," stops at Turner Hall on Saturday, April 13. Tickets are $25.
The shows feature a spoken word performance, an acoustic set and a question-and-answer session where fans write down questions and he answers them with honesty.
Blue October is a Texas-based American rock band that formed in 1995. Furstenfeld's brother, Jeremy, is the band's drummer.
Furstenfeld has indeed been an open book about his struggles with bipolar disorder, anxiety and psychotic tendencies through his lyrics, writing and spoken word pieces. He is also sharing his new-found joys of being a husband and father.
I chatted with Furstenfeld on the phone today.
Molly: So how's the tour so far?
Justin Furstenfeld: Great. We were in Denver last night and a blizzard rolled through. I'm from Texas where that would be the end of the world, but actually, I like snow.
Molly: Are you on tour with your family?
JF: Yes, I only tour with my wife and daughter. I got married about a year ago and I have a 7-month-old daughter.
When I travel with Blue October, they come with me, too. We have a separate bus. I don't drink or do anything anymore – I have to keep myself good – and we just need more of a family bus now.
It's fun. We watch a lot of Wiggles. That's the job I want someday.
Molly: Have you written any material for kids?
JF: Yeah, I mess around. My wife tells me to put a book out about a punk rock kid touring the country and I will someday. I love kids. I know I sound like a wah-wah, but it's true.
Molly: How has being a dad affected your art?
JF: It's made my art more intense. It's opened the door to a whole other realm of my own innocence from when I was a kid. I lost it along the way, and when I had a child it opened that door back up. It's really something else to go back and live through someone else instead of yourself.
Molly: What compelled you to write the book?
JF: I have been writing songs my whole life and people are always asking why I have to be so dramatic or why I'm so dark and so I started writing a book a long time ago about where the songs come from. So they could understand better. I got to tell the whole story behind the songs.
I always loved poetry. I grew up reading Edgar Allan Poe. I always thought the words and the songs were separate.
Molly: What appeals to you about spoken word versus singing with a band?
JF: I love the stripped-down. During this tour, I might start playing and stop and start speaking the words and then start playing again. People see that it's actually thoughts and feelings – not just composed "cat and the hat on the mat."
These shows are so quiet. It's really nice to have evenings like this. It's like a meditation. And yet it's really intense, real.
Last night we had 500 in Denver and it seemed like people really understood it was coming from the heart.
It's not about entertaining in the same way (as with the band), it's about being brutually honest and real about everything you're saying.
In Denver, I was talking about how I was an a**hole. I cheated. I was not a good person. People yelled out, "You son of a b*tch!" They were mad at me and I loved it. They were giving real, honest reactions. Not, "Aw, it's OK. We love you."
I realized I messed up. And I love a real reaction. That's the beauty of making art: you're powerless over peoples' reactions.
Molly: You've struggled with mental health issues. Is art healing for you?
JF: I don't know what I would do without it. I don't know what my purpose would be. I'd still be a great father and husband, but art is the life blood. It keeps me going. It still excites me like it's Christmas Day and I'm a kid.
Molly: What should fans expect from the show?
JF: Very honest stories about where (my music and art) came from. Then the audience can write down questions, I usually get about 50, and I get some crazy questions and I answer them as truthfully and honestly as I can. Often, they don't make me look very good, but I don't care anymore. It's about putting it out there in the open.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Molly Snyder
Published Oct. 21, 2014
Milwaukee music venue Shank Hall will celebrate 25 years in business in November. For this latest segment of Milwaukee Talks, OnMilwaukee.com sits down with owner Peter Jest to hear about the best shows of the past 2 1/2 decades, the fire that almost destroyed the music room, the role Spinal Tap played in it all and much more.
Published Oct. 19, 2014
Kevin Spencer is well aware of the backlash that can happen from calling oneself a magician or an illusionist. Spencer - along with his wife, Linda - brings "Spencers: Theatre of Illusion" to the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, on Saturday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. The show is a mix of theater, rock concert and magic.
Published Oct. 19, 2014
What started out as a hobby for Laron Taylor is now a demanding full time job. His small business, Lai Lida Cookies, is doing better than ever and Taylor says he will soon offer bake-at-home cookie dough, too.
Published Oct. 18, 2014
This year marks the fifth anniversary of Milwaukee's Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) parade and celebration, which takes place Saturday, Nov. 1 from noon to 5 p.m. in Walker Square Park. Milwaukee's Celeste Contreras has organized the parade since its inception in 2010 and OnMilwaukee.com recently checked in with Contreras to find out more.
Published Oct. 17, 2014
Tonight, Edwin Ordonez - along with his two business partners - will open Mango's Tropical Bar & Grill, 721 S. Cesar Chavez Dr. "This will be the most unique sports club and night club in the city," says Ordonez. "We want to bring something new to Milwaukee."
Published Oct. 16, 2014
Shawn Hutchens, owner of Green Fields and Greenfields on Brady, purchased the old Cafe Vocar building a couple of weeks ago and plan to open Riverwest Pizza.
Published Oct. 15, 2014
It's been three months since Dino's reopened in Riverwest. Brothers Anthony and Lawrence LoCoco - the grandsons of the original owner, Leo "Dino" Dinon - have worked tirelessly to fine tune the menu and create an inviting space that's appealing to the Riverwest neighborhood and beyond.
Published Oct. 15, 2014
Ryan Adams performed an extraordinarily solid and heartfelt show tonight. Known as eccentric and erratic - in both good and not so good ways - the prolific North Carolinian continues to serve up a hearty slice of the very best in roots, folk, rock and Americana. But the beauty and the curse of Adams is you never know what you're going to get.
Published Oct. 14, 2014
After 41 years in business, Mike Hoffer will close Hoffer's Tropic Life Pets, 7323 N. 76th St. But first, Hoffer has to find homes for hundreds of animals.
Published Oct. 12, 2014
Yo Factory, 2203 N. Farwell Ave., has seven fun paintings of retro food packages. The show runs through October.