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  • Ben Province

Podcast - Ep. 16: The Blue Stones Interview

In a world that looks drastically different than when two of The Blue Stones' influences The Black Keys and The White Stripes formed more than two decades ago, the music business can be more difficult than ever to navigate.

Newer artists have more competition than decades ago, streaming reigns supreme and rock bands like Coldplay have traded in U2-esque anthems for more pop radio-friendly songs.

But what's striking about The Blue Stones is those factors and pressures don't seem to phase the Windsor, Ontario duo. Though decidedly a rock band, they're not afraid to utilize pop elements. (Their song "No Angels" sounds closer to Bruno Mars than Jack White.) But meanwhile, the band shudders at the idea of making an album for the purpose of appeasing pop radio. It's that level of nuance that feels refreshing in an era where markets are highly specialized.

Released last year, The Blue Stones' latest LP, "Pretty Monster" seems precisely sequenced with the duo's "genre-bending" to keep the listener engaged, from the expected blues-rock tracks to a song like "Camera Roll," which nearly borders on Ed Sheeran, something Tarek Jafar, frontman, rightfully takes as a compliment.

Joe Chiccarelli, whose credits include The White Stripes and The Strokes, was the main producer on the album, with other tracks being produced by Kevin Hissink and Drew Fulk.

While the duo notes that working with multiple producers can often be a "disjointed" process (Paul Meany, MuteMath frontman and Twenty One Pilots producer, worked on The Blues Stones' previous album, "Hidden Gems," as the sole producer), the final product made the process worthwhile.

"it was definitely something to get used to, because it's new for us to do it that way," Jafar said. "But at the end of the day, I still think we came out with a stellar album, and it's because of, you know, those three individuals."

One song from the album, "Don't Miss" seems like an appropriate title for a band that seems to consistently take advantage of opportunities in their career.

Shortly after forming in the beginning of the 2010s, the duo started having its music played on television, something referred to in the business as getting placements or syncs.

"They would reach out in weird ways, too," Jafar recalled. "I'd be on Facebook, and, you know, I'd get a message from Fox Sports they'd be like, 'Hey, can we use your music?'"

Justin Tessier, drummer, points to the duo's music being used in the USA Network legal drama "Suits" as a breaking point for The Blue Stones.

"That led to a lot of people finding us on Spotify, because the show has a very strong following for ... the music that is on the show, so we were added to a few playlists on Spotify that got us a lot of streams. Then that gave the Spotify algorithm enough data to feed other people the music in its algorithm, and our manager found us through that," he said.

This would lead to a record deal and The Blue Stones' 2015 debut album, "Black Holes," getting re-released in 2018, and the album's title track would be the duo's first song to chart in both the U.S. and Canada. Add to their story two JUNO award nominations and a song placement in a 2013 episode of "Parks & Recreation," and it's easy to see how driven The Blue Stones are but not in a way that's calculated; they're going to be themselves.

"It doesn't matter to us, like, how you see us," Jafar said. "We're gonna keep making the music we want to make."

Credit: Nick Fancher


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