“It’s so important to me that people listen to the album, fall in love with it, and then come see the live show and fall in love for completely different reasons. I want them to get something different out of the live show than just what’s on the album,” says Tarek Jafar, one-half of blues-tinged rock duo The Blue Stones. Last November the Canadian outfit, comprised of Jafar and longtime friend Justin Tessier, released their third LP, Pretty Monster, courtesy of MNRK, which prompted BBC Radio 1 to say, “If you like Royal Blood and Tame Impala then you’ll be into this.” And next week the band kicks off the Pretty Monster U.S. Tour (with our admirably glammy friends, The Velveteers, handling support duties on the first leg), which includes a stop at our very own Underground Arts Thursday, May 18th.
Pretty Monster follows-up The Blue Stones’ breakthrough sophomore LP, Hidden Gems, co-written and produced by Mutemath frontman Paul Meany, of whom Jafar admits the band had always been a huge fan. However, for Pretty Monster – which had the group in the studio for 35 straight days in early 2022, working with producers like Kevin Hissink (grandson/Demi Lovato) and WZRD BLD (Highly Suspect, iDKHOW), and multi-GRAMMY Award-winner Joe Chiccarelli (The White Stripes, The Strokes, Spoon) – The Blue Stones wanted to try something a little different. “It’s definitely more of a tightened-up, punchy, in-your-face album, compared to Hidden Gems, with lots of ambient sounds and reverb,” Jafar tells me during our recent phone chat, going on to say, “We tried not to add any more effects than we needed.” However, he admits that this approach wasn’t always easy: “The process was very painstaking, like spending hours and hours just dialing in like a snare drum, but I think it was worth it to get that sound.”
“We truly do care about the music. I don’t wanna put out anything I don’t like,” Jafar tells me, admitting that it’s never been a concern of the duo if their music turns out to be what anyone expects from them. “We’re very involved in every decision and every process from the start. You truly are getting both Justin and myself,” he explains, proud of the band’s dedication to literally doing it themselves. However, he also tells me that the reactions they’ve gotten to the new music have been basically everything they could’ve hoped for: “People have really reacted to the opening track, ‘Healing.’ I think the lyrical content really resonates with people. And while we were working on it, that was one of our favorite tracks, so it’s nice to see that that matches.”
When I ask Jafar about some of the highlights of The Blue Stones, who have been putting out music for more than a decade now, he says a lot of it comes back to the live shows: “We just recently got to play The Danforth, which is like a landmark venue where we’re from. And we played BottleRock and Bonnaroo, and I always just wanted to go to them, so to play there was really cool.” He also tells me that, in addition to the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection (where they’ve previously played The Foundry, MilkBoy, and the Radio 104.5 Birthday Show), the band also have a number of other cities where they’ve made extra special friends and fans, which they’re extra anxious to return to on this tour.
“Cambridge is an exciting one to revisit. That was really great last time… Playing LA at The Troubadour. This is gonna be our first headlining show at The Troubadour, and tickets are flying… Denver, which I love, and the Bluebird Theater is one of my favorite venues in North America, so that’s double-exciting!”
*Get your tickets here.