For the frontman of the rock band Blue October, growing up in Houston, Texas in the 90s was an emo-poet’s dystopian paradise. Justin Furstenfeld’s breathy rap-singing and eyeliner spirituality made him a recognizable figure amongst the rising wave of alternative musicians who were scoring big deals with record labels and releasing songs on the American Pie 2 soundtrack. And, then… (dramatic pause) it all came crashing down.
The Norry Niven directed biographical rockumentary Get Back Up, charts the manic highs and lows (did somebody say “Vegas-Wife?”) that have shaped the now 44-year-old Furstenfeld’s career and personal life. Furstenfeld acknowledges the various stages of his mental and physical disintegration and how his actions as a diminished man have negatively impacted those around him.
The film’s candid interviews reveal how his understandably shellshocked bandmates were either left feeling like abused spouses or potential junkies themselves. But, as frustrated as they were with the perma-numbed Furstenfeld’s repeated attempts at financial and social suicide, they have remained loyal friends and dedicated co-workers.
Comparing the footage of Blue October’s live performances, the tragic trajectory of Furstenfeld’s burning-the-candle-at-both-ends ethos seems evident. Unfortunately, he was also clever enough to conceal the influence of his depressive demons, even as his songs “Into the Ocean” and the allusive “Hate Me” achieved platinum status. As Furstenfeld puts it, he was wishing he was Fred Durst, but he was singing “I cry… I cry…” instead.
It’s a sobering confessional from the now-recovered, twice married, self-made artist/author/producer and father of three. While many details of his addiction, detox and rehabilitation, legal and marital woes are left in the shadows, the patience and devotion of Furstenfeld’s family and supporters is on full display. For Furstenfeld that love was and is the key to his mortal redemption, and it is undoubtedly the most powerful message to come out of this cautionary archival project.
Get Back Up is available to stream online now at getbackup.tv