Blue October has recently released their latest album ‘Sway’ which is one of my albums of the year and from band I had not heard of previously. As the band prepare for their upcoming European tour (including November 17th Birmingham Institute, November 18th Manchester Academy 3 , November 19th at KOKO, London) I catch-up with frontman Justin Furstenfeld…
You’ve got the European tour coming up. Are you looking forward to that?
Oh God, I love getting out of America (laughs). I mean I love America but when I go overseas to the UK I love it so much. You guys are so passionate about music.
You’re playing Moscow, Kiev, Germany as well as the UK.
We’ve never been to Russia, we’ve only been to the UK and Germany, places like that. That’s going to be a first. We’re pretty excited about it and we’re not sure anyone knows of us over there. We’re going to play some good shows hopefully.
Do you change your setlist much between the US and European tours?
We have a new album called ‘Sway’ out now with eleven tracks on and we will play a lot of that. The whole set will be two hours. Basically every song off ‘Sway’, then fifteen or so older songs that we change around depending on the requests we get. We over one hundred songs on the albums we’ve done and it’s hard to pick 25 to play.
Obviously a lot of the time bands have to play certain sings each night that the fans expect and this can limit the newer songs you can play?
Fans expect certain songs and as a band you have the new songs which you want to show to fans now.
This is the first time I have heard one of your albums in ‘Sway’ which is excellent. Does this album sound like your other albums?
It’s not different sound wise to the other albums, but the subject matter is different. In the past I used to write very sad, melancholy music and this new album is very hopeful. It’s about finding peace and self-confidence. I am just very grateful that I am in this place I can write songs like this.
You’ve worked with respected producer Tim Palmer on this one again like your last album. How did you hook-up with him?
He’s one of my best friends and we met back in 2003. I just respect him, out all the producers we’ve worked with he’s one I trust. I worked with many, many producers but he’s the only one I can leave the room and trust to get the sound.
You’ve a series of videos on YouTube with lyrics on. How important are they for getting the band’s music better known?
We’ve done these as we are not on a major label anymore, only in the US. We have to get out much as we can and we have twelve amazing songs that we want people to hear. It doesn’t take long to make these.
At first I was like ‘Oh no!’, but now they work really well. We do them for each song and the band like them, as do the fans.
You used the Pledge Music campaign for this album?
Yeah you can offer things like playing in their house for them for a certain pledge. Writing poetry, music lessons or painting paintings for their houses. We exceeded our limit, it was amazing.
We’ll definitely do it again as it works so well and the fans feel part of the band as well.
You have a good link with your fans via Facebook and Twitter. They are very passionate and loyal.
Yes they are very, very loyal as long as you keep them in the loop. If you issue updates what’s going on and we aren’t number one in the charts but we are doing well.
You do well in the US as you top the genre charts like the alternative rock charts and you make the main Billboard album charts.
We try not to get too into the numbers side of things, that’s not what we’re about. It’s about being successful enough to put diapers on your kids and a roof over your head. We’re not into being rich and famous.
I own my merch company as this proves successful. Our US label wanted 20% of the merch sales, 20% of the publishing and 20% of our touring. I said no we’ll just do it on our own and it’s more important we support the families that depend on the band.
Message for your UK fans…
I cannot wait to see you guys as we have not played there for so long. I am so happy and grateful to have you in my life and I swear to God I am going to play a two hour set. I am going to shake your hands and say thank you.
Interview conducted by Jason Ritchie
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Each week David Randall presents ‘New to GRTR!’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, with the emphasis on independent artists and labels. During December he replays favourite tracks including power plays featured during the year. This show covers the period January-March and was first broadcast on 1 December 2019.
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