The Blue Stones release new EP ‘Live on Display’

Alt-rock duo discusses latest release and post-pandemic plans

The Blue Stones played at an antique store in Hamilton.

 To make up for all the cancelled concerts this year, The Blue Stones have captured the atmosphere of live music on their new EP, featuring performances of their singles at Smash Salvage, an antique store in Hamilton.

While alt-rockers Tarek Jafar, vocalist and guitarist, and Justin Tessier had originally planned to record a whole new album this year, those plans were swept up by the pandemic. But ‘Live on Display’ takes four of their singles, “Let It Ride,” “Grim,” “Careless,” and “Shakin’ Off The Rust,” giving them the spirit and energy of a live performance that so many music fans are missing.

In an interview with The Journal,  The Blue Stones discussed how they got their start and where they’re at in their journey so far.

While Jafar and Tessier didn’t start playing music together until they were in university, they initially became friends by playing something else: football.

“We played on the high school football team together. That was way back—I don’t know probably 2004 or something,” Tessier laughed.

Both of them attended St. Anne’s High School in Windsor, and then went to the University of Windsor for their undergrads. 

“We were close friends through high school,” Tessier continued. “And when we were in university, we decided to finally start a music project. We kind of realized that when we were in undergrad, that was the first time in our lives that we could do whatever we wanted to and we didn’t need to ask anyone’s permission…we figured we’d just start playing bars and see where it goes.”

Jafar added, “I myself went to Leeds Beckett University in England for my masters and Justin is a Queen’s boy.”

“Yeah, so I’ve just finished a master of Management Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Queen’s,” Tessier said.

After the success of their first album, The Blue Stones signed with Paul Meany, the lead singer and keyboardist of Mutemath and a collaborator with Twenty One Pilots. 

“It was shocking at first for us because we had our hopes very, very high for a dream producer that we wanted to work with, and I remember mentioning it to our management,” Jafar said. “We were both like, ‘Yeah it would be a dream to work with Paul Meany but obviously we can’t.’ […] Basically, we got one of our heroes who we’ve listened to from 2009 onwards to work on our music with us.”

Jafar noted how it can be frightening at first to work with someone you idolize.

“You’d imagine you’re kind of scared to meet your idol because you don’t really know if they’re going to be a dickhead, maybe they’re egotistical, but Paul is actually the entire opposite of that. He’s a great, great coach, awesome guy to work with, super humble, super focused. [We] learnt a lot from him so it was really a great experience overall.”

Jafar also mentioned some of the musical inspirations he had growing up. 

“I think early on, let’s say when we were starting our budding passions for being in a band, it was probably The Black Keys […] and for myself it was Mutemath. I also listened to a lot of hip hop in high school so artistis like Jay-Z and J. Cole and Kanye West were definitely on my roster.”

Tessier explained how COVID-19 was the inspiration behind releasing Live on Display.

“We noticed a lot of people were doing the livestream thing and we felt like it was overdone,” Tessier said, referring to all the bands performing virtual concerts to keep with social-distancing guidelines.

“We didn’t really quite get the connection, and we had some dates booked, we were on the road when all of the lockdowns hit. We were over in Winnipeg, we drove two days to get to that show, and then we played that show, and everything was cancelled after that, so we had to drive two days home.”

“But we wanted to give our audience a better, more intimate and just a higher production value show because we couldn’t play,” said Tessier.

So, in October, the two released ‘Live on Display’ as a video on their YouTube channel, after which their label approached them with the idea to release the recordings as an EP.

“It’s just a cool item that people can have forever and remember this crazy time,” Tessier said.

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