Justin Furstenfeld rocks his socks off most nights.
That's why the frontman of Blue October makes sure to include fresh pairs on his rider - an artist's concert request list.
He usually checks to make sure clean socks are waiting for him before he goes about the rest of the pre-show routine: Chat with the local radio station, meet fans and talk to the merch guy. Furstenfeld admitted that he threw in the last agenda item when he saw the merch guy during a recent phone interview before sound check in Mississippi.
"Everyone on our crew and tour and band love and respects each other," he said.
Between meet-and-greets and interviews, Furstenfeld does a lot of talking, something he otherwise tries to avoid while on tour. He said he tries to speak low to preserve his vocal chords, since they're one of his instruments.
It will probably be the same routine before Furstenfeld takes the stage tonight at Penn State York's Pullo Family Performing Arts Center.
He won't be checking social media much; he tries to disconnect when he's on the road. When he can, he tries to seclude himself. He pushes himself to be the best he can for each show.
"I like to sit and chill and work on songs," he said. "I'm always in the studio. I take it with me. I should be working my ass off right now. My business isn't a secure business."
Blue October broke onto the scene in the mid-90s, just as grunge was starting to fade. Furstenfeld formed the group with his brother, Jeremy. Ryan Delahoussaye, Matt Noveskey and Julian Mandrake round out the current lineup.
The Texas group has churned out about 10 albums in the last 15 years.
Fatherhood comes up on last summer's release, "Any Man in America," since Furstenfeld has a 5-year-old daughter.
"She doesn't know what I do," he admitted. Right now, she's more interested in being Cinderella. But she must have gotten some musical genes, he added, since she loves to sing.
Some of Furstenfeld's life lessons influence his lyrics.
"Parents should be better parents and better people," he said. The same logic applies to himself, he added.
Even though helping to raise a child changed his outlook on life, it hasn't altered Blue October's heavy rock sound.
Back in the band's post-grunge heyday, it would easily sell more than a million albums. Now, even the most popular artists have trouble selling that many. In the age of the digital download and information overload, Furstenfeld said that all bands are only as good as their last single.
Online leaks have caused a lot of frustration for fellow artists, but instead of complaining, Blue October has tried to beat the system.
Furstenfeld said bands have to work harder. Blue October plans to release a single a month on iTunes.
They might release an album in the future, but it's not a must.
"Hip-hop (artists) are running this game," Furstenfeld said, citing the constant stream of singles and remixes rappers release. "They keep people interested. If you have some songs, you keep releasing songs. You have to write more. You have to make sure it's all great. You have to really be smart about what you do with your future."
Furstenfeld has trained his mind to make music on the go, just as he's learned to rest his body and voice before hitting the stage.
After shows, he removes his socks, takes a shower, calls home if he can and then waits for the rush of Red Bull to wear off.
- Erin McCracken, FlipSide staff
For details about Blue October, visit blue
Read more meet-the-artist interviews at www.flipsidepa.com/musicdirectory.
If you go
Blue October hits the stage 7:30 tonight at Penn State York's Pullo Family Performing Arts Center, 1031 Edgecomb Ave., Spring Garden Township.
Girl In a Coma opens the show.
Tickets are $35. For
details and tickets, call 717-505-8900 or visit thepullocenter.com.