Q&A with members of Blue October

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Blue October was in town for a special two-night performance last weekend on the heels of its latest album release. Frontman Justin Furstenfeld and bass player Matt Noveskey, San Marcos residents, spoke with The University Star about their new album “Sway,” a new tour and almost 20 years  of success in the music industry.

Ernest Macias: You started in the ‘90s after a post-grunge boom. How does a band evolve with the times and stay relevant in such a fast-changing industry?
Matt Noveskey: I think that the only way to really accomplish that is to be you. I think that if you’re constantly chasing whatever’s cool at the moment and you’re trying to fit with what’s going on, eventually your luck is just going to run out. You’re going to wind up falling behind at some point in time. I think one of the reasons we’re still doing this is that we just do what comes to us naturally and every time we do a record it’s a snapshot of that moment.

EM: You've had tremendous success as a band. What keeps you in the San Marcos-Austin area when your industry success allows you to live anywhere in the world?
Justin Furstenfeld: I love it. It’s nice and chill. I’ve stayed in L.A. before. I’ve stayed in New York before. Half of us live (in San Marcos) and half of us live in Austin. I think San Marcos, for me, is perfect. I used to come up here as a child with my family to Wimberley and go camping every summer. It’s always just been like a place of peace for me. As long as there’s a venue like (The Marc), we will keep coming back. I mean, why not play in your hometown that has supported you? I don’t get nervous when I play here. It’s just like, “All right, it’s time. Come on San Marcos!”
MN: I love Austin, I love this area, and I love Texas Hill Country. There are a lot of artists that are making their way down here, and there are a lot of producers and engineers that are flocking here because it’s a great place to be. People like Tim Palmer move here because they come down for Austin City Limits, South By Southwest or whatever it is and they fall in love with it. I think we were just lucky enough to be here first.
JF: And real estate is extremely less expensive here too, for now. Once again, I sure am glad we were here first.

EM: How has the time spent in San Marcos shaped the band?
JF: San Marcos has let us grow. San Marcos has just always been San Marcos, and that’s what I like about it. There’s no ego here, really. It’s not trying to be Austin, L.A., Dallas or NYC. It’s just its own thing. It’s humble. That’s the word I would describe it.
MN: I agree 100 percent. I think that when I first came here in ‘99 I saw a whole college town that was rallying for a band. From the outside looking in, it was really cool. It reminded me of when I grew up in Michigan and there was a band called The Verve Pipe. When I went to college, they were like that there, but they moved away and moved on and it changed. As where we’re still here, and we still have that support system and same network.

EM: Your latest work, “Sway,” was released in 2013. What inspired that album and the lyrics?
JF: I would have to say living differently. Kind of finally figuring out what the meaning of life is. I think I tapped into a place, in the last two years, where I figured out, “Man, I’m so grateful for what I have in my life.” I’m so not into being number one on radio anymore, or being the coolest thing out, you know. I’m into what’s best for my friends and family, and anything that comes above that is such a blessing. Letting the band have more say in the album—that was huge for me. It was a huge weight off my shoulders when I could look at Matt and ask, “You got any music?” Instead of going, “No, it’s me—it’s me.”
MN: It was a really positive experience all around. Being able to really feel like you’re contributing on different levels is a gratifying thing. Beyond that, the actual making of the record was a great time in my life, and all of our lives. I feel like we’re all in a great place, and I feel like I will always remember making this record fondly. It was fun, there was no pressure, we didn’t care if people were up our ass saying, “Deliver this, deliver that.” We made the record we wanted to make. If it does well, then it does.

EM: What direction do you see the band taking in the future?
JF: With the way the music is going right now, once again it’s all about hooks. It’s all about songs. It’s all about how to grab people and create something new. I’m all about heavy beats and simplicity with amazing hooks and dreamy landscapes—you can’t beat that. Unless you’re Drake and you’ve got them all.

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