It's hard to argue that Blue October frontman Justin Furstenfeld has his priorities in order these days.
The band just released its latest single, "Oh My My," and last week they were in the studio rehearsing the three final songs for their new album of songs he's written. While it is a "sadder and darker album," he says, it is the first he's written completely sober and while facing life head on.
But more importantly, he was at the moment of our interview, making sure the teenagers in the car with him were enjoying the Blizzards they'd just gotten at the Dairy Queen drive-thru.
"Our single 'Oh My My' just came out [last week] and it is doing really well.
It's about his daughter and being 13, and how it feels to be a guy really noticing girls for the first time.
"I wrote it about my daughter, because she is in middle school right now, and I wrote about how the boys must feel because she is so cute. All the boys must feel like 'Oh my my,' because she has that kind of sad cool look. I remember being in middle school and that inspired me."
If you go
› What: Blue October
› Where: Walker Theatre inside Memorial Auditorium, 399 McCallie Ave.
› When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 18
› Admission: $49, $29
› For more information: 423-757-5580
Furstenfeld said this album is different for many reasons, in addition to his being eight-years sober. A self-admitted control freak in the studio, he said he now has a studio on his property in Texas where the band records. He has had the advantage of learning from some great producers such as Steve Lillywhite and Matt Castell.
"I know what I want and I know how to get it, now,'" he said. "We go into the studio on my property from 10 to 6, and then we go to dinner with our families and do it again the next day."
The album features the band, including Jeremy Furstenfeld, Ryan Delahoussaye, Matt Noveskey and Will Knaak, playing electric and acoustic guitar, mandolin, drums and bass "like an old rock band."
Though the music is dark and sad, Furstenfeld said the lyrics paint a different picture.
"I've lately been writing positive songs about recovery and sobriety and how good life can be if you give it a chance," he said.
"Even through recovery and even through times of good days, I always dealt with and lived with depression. But I've never written about it on a clear head.
"I still deal with depression and anxiety and panic attacks, but wanted to approach writing from a clear head, almost like it's a member of the family. It's not going anywhere."
The band is also awaiting the release of "Get Back Up," a documentary by Norry Niven about Furstenfeld and his struggles set for release in May. The singer said making the film for him was relatively easy "because all I had to do was be sober. Be me."
What was hard was hearing from friends and family about the things he'd put them through. That, and not being in charge.
"I didn't direct the film. I didn't get to watch until it was done. It was the first time I've ever relinquished control over an art piece. EVER. I was like, 'What?' I didn't know they felt that way. It was so heart-wrenching, and so crazy."
Furstenfeld will be performing at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, in Walker Theatre inside Memorial Auditorium, 399 McCallie Ave.
Contact Barry Courter at bocurter@firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.