It seems once a label drops a group there is no coming back. Being dropped means failure and in an industry that ruthlessly pursues the bottom line, failure is not an option.
When a group doesn't live up to sales expectations a flurry of emails fly around the label's corporate offices. A lot of money is spent on recording and promoting a group. When there's no chance to recoup that investment, panic sets in. Everyone who might possibly have some connection with the act in question is busily distancing themselves.
"Who signed these guys?"
"If you'll read my memo of 6/24 you'll see in the fifth paragraph that I had serious doubts about this band?"
"I was only interested in this band because so-and-so (someone no longer with the label) was so hot on them."
In the end, the disaster is often blamed on some low-level grunt with no signing authority. And just to put a fine point on it, he gets fired.
As for the band, they are almost an after thought in this process. They are expected to go away peacefully and either break up or fade into oblivion.
Blue October went through this process but amazingly they were re-signed by their original label, Universal Records. But it wasn't easy.
Blue October formed in Houston with a two-guitar line-up, along with bass and drums. Thanks to Ryan Delahoussaye, they incorporated violin and mandolin.
Indie release, "The Answer," rolled out in '98 and was good enough to get them signed by Universal with their major label "Consent To Treatment" being issued in '00. Rock radio passed and so did the public. Blue October was cut loose. Three years later Brando Records unfurled "History For Sale," followed by the live "Argue With A Tree." Those efforts led Blue October back to Universal for their '06 album "Foiled."
"Foiled" proved popular enough to warrant a guest appearance on Late Night With Conan O'Brien and VH1. Blue October's international reach expanded as well. Their tour itinerary filled up with shows in Europe, the Philippines and Mexico.
When that was completed, Justin hit the road with Stephenie Meyer, the author of the Twilight series (vampire fantasy/romance). Meyer said Blue October's music served as one of the books' inspirations.
Blue October's fifth studio album, "Approaching Normal," arrived in '09. Produced by the legendary Steve Lillywhite (U2, Dave Matthews), the set's lead single was "Dirt Room."
The album debuted at #13 on the Billboard 200 chart. Later in the year though, Blue October's tour had to be cancelled after Furstenfield suffered a severe mental anxiety attack. He returned to performing a several weeks later.
A series of acoustic concerts in '10 yielded a live unplugged album, "Ugly Side: An Acoustic Evening With Blue October" the following year. The band's next project, also dropping in '11, had to take a laborious route.
The band's label, Universal, offered a '360 Deal' where the label would provide financial support for marketing, promotion and touring in exchange for a percentage of all the band's income - music sales, live performances, licensing and music publishing. Rather, Blue October decided for form their own label, Up/Down Records to issue "Any Man In America."
Blue October's seventh full-length album, "Sway," dropped in '13. The set followed Furstenfeld's struggle with an alcohol addiction.
"'Sway' is about trying to find solutions to problems instead of dwelling in the problems," Furstenfeld explained. He talked about being "proactive" with his life and enjoying it. And just to prove the point, he added, "I didn't want to write complex songs anymore. Not on this album, at least. I wanted to write songs you could get after one listen."
"Sway" was also released on Up/Down.
Long-time lead guitarist CB Hudson contributed to the session for '16 album "Home." However, he was sidelined due to a collarbone injury sustained during a dirt bike accident. Matthew Ostrander filled in and stayed on when it was confirmed that Hudson would not be returning.
Blue October later postponed their German and U.K. tours to "get more traction" in the U.S. after "Home's" title track spent its 16th week in the Top 40.
1998 The Answers
2000 Consent To Treatment
2003 History For Sale
2009 Approaching Normal
2011 Any Man In America
Blue October has been called pity party Rock. Their music is perfectly suited for a gray, dank October day.
A lot of people go through recovery, though probably not as many who should. Nearly all keep a low profile. However, actors are known to appear on talk shows offering detailed accounts of their trials and tribulations. It usually makes for cheap but entertaining TV. Musicians, like Furstenfeld, have the option of laying it all out in their songs.