The Blue Stones bring hard work to fast rock

Rock group will kick off their North American tour in Kingston

The Blue Stones will play at The Mansion on Jan. 23.
Jennifer McCord

The Blue Stones know one thing to be certain: you’ve got to work hard if you want to party hard.

The rock duo will be kickstarting their North American tour at The Mansion on Jan. 23, along with Mute Choir.

Tarek Jafar (vocals and guitar) and Justin Tessier (percussion and back-up vocals) are no strangers to the city, having played here once before. Both are Windsor-born, but Tessier is currently attending Queen’s Smith School of Business, earning his master’s degree in management innovation and entrepreneurship.

“It’s definitely been tough doing two tours [and] recording an album in the first six months of being in the program,” Tessier said in an interview with The Journal. “You’ve got to figure out in the moment what’s the bigger priority and go with that.”

The band isn’t afraid to make big decisions, though––they’ve learned to embrace them.

Tessier says he faced an uncertain future after graduating from Windsor University in 2014. As a band, the two had to decide whether to play it safe after graduation by pursuing careers in their fields of study or continue pursuing their shared passion for music.

“There was a stable path where we could plan out five, 10 years in the future where we were going to be, what we were going to be doing, where we were going to be living. That’s enticing. That’s safe,” Tessier said. “But there’s another side that’s compelling and totally uncertain […] you could totally fail.”

This life-changing decision was the impetus for their debut album, Black Holes. Tessier says  while their decision was about music, the themes in the album are universally relatable. It’s an exploration of the anxiety that comes with facing the unknown.

Tessier says they’re confident in their decision to pursue music, but it isn’t always smooth sailing. Jafar lives in Windsor and Tessier lives in Kingston, meaning, like any long-distance relationship, they rely on modern technology to stay in touch and continue to work together.

This means that there’s no set process to their song writing. When they’re together, they jam, and when they’re not, they send each other recordings of guitar and piano riffs. Tessier describes the process as being very organic—it comes easy to them. They pull from their lives for material, but also try to keep their songs relatable for everyone.

The duo’s sound isn’t easily definable, but they don’t necessarily want it to be. They go with the flow and don’t credit their sound to one major influence, but to many.

“Everyone grows up listening to so many different kinds of music. I don’t think that was a thing musicians did before the Internet age,” Tessier said. He attributes this to streaming services that give people access to more genres than they previously might have found.

Recently, the band finished recording new music at NOP studios in Kingston. They’ve already released two songs from the upcoming album, and they plan to release the next few in the upcoming months.

These tracks set themselves apart from the moodier Black Holes, not only because of the fuller sound and faster drumbeat, but because of the confidence infused in the lyrics. Their single “Grim” is about having the confidence to look after yourself and be a little selfish, while “Shakin’ Off the Rust” is about believing in yourself and getting back up even when you fail.

“It’s about owning your choices [and saying] this is not only what I’m doing, but who I am,” Tessier said. “You have to embrace all of that fully, including the darker parts of you that come with that.”

Moving forward, the band wants to focus on mixing and mastering their new album, and then figure out how to get it out to as many people as possible. That said, this week, their focus is on their upcoming Kingston show and sharing their music with the Limestone City and fellow Queen’s students.

“Kingston is a special city for both of us [...] we’re ready to get the party started on Thursday.”


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