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What’s Blue? What’s Normal? Helen Bach reviews the situation…

I have to block out thoughts of you so I don’t lose my head, they crawl in like a cockroach leaving babies in my bed…”

Cool huh, so these words open up the first charting song by Austin TX based band Blue October. Fourth times a charm as Foiled the fourth release gets some national attention.

I was first introduced to Blue October through Foiled. It took about 10 minutes to suck me into its swirl. A passion for ‘violin rock’ as those who taunted me referred to it did nothing to distract what I felt in listening to them. Ok now we all know I’m somewhat shallow and yes I do judge bands on their appearance.. The doughy liner wearing mohawk sporting Furstenfeld most def caught my eye.

Who What Where When…..that’s where this begins. From that my appetite for their music intensified and I was compelled to purchase their entire catalog and listen to it exclusively for months. I learned of Justins addictions and mental health issues. His battles with internal demons and the victories he had. I learned he was an amazing painter and artist and claimed his work as wallpapers and prints. His music and his art reflect a man torn. Hes not wallowing in illness. Its as if it pisses him off, he wants to be well. Hes a man who’s been hurt and scared who lives a battle and through it emerges in sheer brilliance. He wont be around long. Genius doesn’t last.

Lyrics to songs such as James, or Clumsy Card House, and Chameleon Boy show vulnerability. Songs such as Sexual Powertrip and Razorblade show power and anger. 18th Floor Balcony is is boyish almost awkward showing of love almost childlike. The unifying trend here is the power of his voice. Hes bleeding it.

Hate Me was great, Into the Ocean, cool (but a cooler video). Justin works his words into music supported by his brother Jeremy on drums Ryan Delahoussaye on violin/keyboard/xylophone/toys….and 2 other guys who have no fucking right being in the band.

Ok.. sorry.. perhaps they do but they certainly do not have the same personality as the other 3.

I had the distinct honor of meeting and interviewing the band last May. Those who knew me on Facebook at the time were bombarded with my practice hellos

‘hey hows it goin.. love your band”, ‘ahm.. hi, I love you’… or the infamous ‘Sweet Mother of Eye Liner gahhhhhhhhhhhh’

That amazing May evening my rocker pal Peg and I headed out to New Haven for this rare glimpse sound check and meet and greet shabang.. and when we arrived saw Justin boppin down the street drinking a coffee from the bakery next door, flashing an adorable smile as he spoke to ‘Mommy’ who we assumed was his daughter Blue Furstenfelds mother, either that or his own mom and in that case how fucking cute was THAT?!

Once inside we were able to watch the sound check as the band performed Jump Rope and spoke back and forth, the whole time Justin intently in motion. Man, oh man, what a fox.

Ill skip the stereotype question and answers as they’re really quite pointless and drone. Bubble gum questions as I was dumbfounded and mouth agape. But as a voyeur the interaction of the band was profound. As CB Hudson and Matt Novesky strutted about with arrogance I questioned (so tell me, whats it like as back up to someone else’s emotions?’) Jeremy and Ryan were personable and charming. Justin was mentally busy. He was tiring to watch as he paced in constant motion. Strange in retrospect.

This week Twitter announced that Justin would not be participating in the Capitol Hill acoustic performance as kick off to the Pick Up The Phone Tour. This tour was to raise awareness on mental health issues and suicide prevention along with the organization TWLOHA. I was so proud when I first read of this endeavour. Being a daddy helped. Hes doing ok, now hes going to reach out. Now this bleeping on my phone stated something was wrong and my heart dropped. My first thought was suicide attempt. They have been non stop touring, exhaustion? What the hell do I know? Publicity stunt? nah too lame. I turn to my comrades here at RockNYC, nothing.

My mind turned to the fact that it was quite possible I would have to eulogize this man. I couldn’t. I feel angry betrayed almost my God you’re a father now find help. As a parent you cannot give up EVER. But the other side of me was deeply saddened and so remains now. How horrible it must be to fight invisible demons. To be in the spotlight albeit not the brightest but public enough for some stranger in the corner of the country to actually be worried enough to call in the troops for back up.

Today word came of an extreme mental breakdown. A release from Justin explains he needed to seek help and to find safety in hospitalization.

I want more. I want more Blue October, I want more of those silly smiles I want to hear more adventures of the fabulous mind of Justin Furstenfeld. Yeah, Im selfish. But I also, want him to be there to watch his daughter grow up. I want to cheer him on, I want him well.

Venture back in the catalog of Blue October and listen to the evolution. I heard hope in Approaching Normal, so I’m not giving up on him.

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