FEATURE Yukon Blonde
Image Credit: Courtesy Yukon Blonde

Yukon Blonde Is A Natural One

by Gil Melott
Is it a curse or a compliment to continuously be compared to other bands -- when you are out there trying to make your way without being dismissed as a “yet another good band bringing multi-layered harmonies to the masses, and so on, and so on…?” And so go the questions for the boys from Vancouver, Yukon Blonde.

When the comparisons range from Crosby Stills Nash & Young to Fleet Foxes to even the Beach Boys, it’s not bad company. However, after listening to the latest EP from the band, while the comparisons are fair, the band’s latest releases are fresh and in keeping with their hook-heavy arrangements and careful and honest lyrics. The tightly woven harmonies often driven by guitarist Brandon Scott are solemn and soulful but with an unmistakable pop-rock flair, without abandoning a chance to soak in the lyric. If you think filing in the spaces for harmony to create purity is easy, you, my friends, are wrong.

A good sign for me of how good a band is depends on how often I listen to a song or songs. And I have played Fire//Water EP quite a few times over the past several days. Subsequently the mood was just right when I took an interview with lead singer of Yukon Blonde, Jeff Innes who was in balmy Atlanta as the band makes it’s way through a 60 city U.S tour.

“Well we have left some of the shittiest weather in Vancouver and are enjoying the semi-tropical climate of Atlanta. It’s a good day,” Innes starts, taken aback a bit by my first question – ‘how’s your day?’ and then laughs. We both hate phone interviews.

Looking across the landscape of the past twelve to eighteen months, Yukon Blonde has spent a helluva lot of time in a van, crisscrossing the Canadian countryside. And in spite of the cramped quarters, it proved to be fruitful for the group.

“We didn’t have much time off, so we were constantly in the van and I was writing like crazy. And when I did have time off, which drove my girlfriend crazy, we would be recording the whole time.”

“I don’t know. We were touring so much, and I like bands that consistently put out solid new music so I took advantage of that time. I could have just soaked in the tour and waited until we got home,” says Innes. “But in this business it would be nice, effectively, if we never got home so I should plan for that.”

Forced into writing under less than ideal circumstances suited Innes and the band just fine. Innes who says he thrives under pressure and constraint was able to produce music he was proud of.

While some of the songs may come across as a little darker Innes defines it best, “I think so much of the music comes from an honest place and a freedom to share more. Maybe it’s spending so much time in the van together,” laughs. “On the first album I spent so much of it on my own and kept much of it [the music and process] to myself. And now after spending so much time with the band, so many boundaries have been removed on a lot of levels. I’m more willing to be open with expression. And now here I am expressing myself to you,” big laugh. “Laying it all on the line!”

Yukon Blonde loves to tour and they love to play for a live audience. Their reception so far has been great. I look forward to giving you more after I see them in Chicago in the upcoming weeks.

Their inspirations are vast. Certainly the tour inspires their performance and sound, but also music from the Beach Boy’s and albums like Holland and Wild Honey to the Buzzcocks and The Pretty Things Emotions or The Flaming Lips.

“I love the raw, garage, pop sensibility and yeah, just pop music. I like the new Beyonce record. I like the old Beyonce record a lot,” Innes lets out a sly snicker. “I guess I just like great pop music. And that is one thing that is found in the Ramones and The Beach Boys, and Beyonce. I appreciate all great music for its core strengths.”

When I asked Innes what did he want people to say when they left one of the Yukon Blonde sets or shows he confidently replied, “The work is solid. I want them to be shows they remember and talk about the next day and days ahead. Hell I became a Twitter fan and love to see those conversations. Seeing people jazzed. I want them to feel like I did when I saw my favorite bands growing up. REMEMBER US THE DAY AFTER!”

“The last band I felt that way about is a young Canadian group called Young Rival,” adds Innes.

"Fire" - Yukon Blonde

After the U.S. leg of the tour is over YB is taking two weeks in Australia and then it’s back to Canada for a short window before heading back to the states. “Hell, it’s still the largest market in the world! I would love to move there, but I don’t think I am allowed,” Innes laughs about the nuances of work visas and bureaucracy. 

Defining success is both tangible and esoteric. “We want to be content with where we are. But we certainly want to land and play in the big festivals from Lollapalooza to Coachella to Sasquatch. I wouldn’t be able to contain myself if that happened.”

They pound out their music because of the people. Straight up. The sound is gripping and damn it, people like it. I know I do and can’t wait for more.

It looks like these guys will be spending less time travelling back and forth on that stretch of highway along the 49th parallel and more time experiencing the US roads and in such a vast way.

Rapid Fire Q&A With Yukon Blonde's Jeff Innes

Sneakers or Boots?
I where sneakers but the rest of the band wears boots. Pony sneakers actually.

Beer, Whiskey, Milk or and Energy Drink?
Beer and whiskey always. (I beg him not to say Canadian whiskey and Jeff assures me that Americans had enough of that during prohibition!) I love a good highland scotch.

Where the hell does the Blonde in Yukon Blonde come from since none of you are blonde?
I don’t know. It sounded like a cool name. Nah, an ex-bassist accused his mom of having gray hair and she denied it and said she was a Yukon Blonde and we said damn good name for a band. That was good enough.

Back Bacon (Canadian), American Bacon or Veggie Bacon?

  • Gil Melott is Publisher of JACKarcher and head of JACKarcher | JA+. Gil digs all things that haven't happened yet but probably should in music, fashion, art, film, design - you get the picture. Likes the influencers of all things NEXT and the strategies to get them there. Can appreciate great fried chicken, an amazing Malbec, a 1971 Ford Bronco, finding hot bands, and riding a bike any time. He spends a lot of time with his American Bulldog Chap who is the biggest influencer of what happens NEXT.