Last time we checked in on Yukon Blonde, our writer Hilary was biting her nails down, awaiting the band’s explosion into the global public consciousness. The Canadian indie rock outfit is one step closer to that goal, currently touring with the Jezebels — tour dates here — across our fine country. Fortunately, Hilary’s cuticles were intact enough for her to ask Yukon Blonde frontman Jeff Innes a few questions while the band is on the road. Read the interview after the jump.
STREAM: Yukon Blonde – “Stairway”
I’d like to begin with the most important question: what is your favorite joke?
Well, I’m not sure that one of our favourite jokes would make much sense out of context, but every now and again we do play pranks on each other and other bands. One such prank involved Graham and I getting a sound clip of a fire bell on my laptop and playing it outside the bathroom while Brandon took a shower. We then yelled, “Fire, Fire!” which led to Bran running out of the shower naked and soaking wet. That was a good one.
You just released your second full album as Yukon Blonde, Tiger Talk. How has your sound evolved since Everything in Everyway? What have been some of the major influences that continue to shape the band’s identity?
It’s hard to say how our sound has evolved as a band since we’re not too retrospective and we’re always trying to move forward. It’s like trying to judge how wide a fire has spread while all along you’ve been on the ground, in the middle of it. I do know that every time we set out to make something new, we try and challenge ourselves and not let the people or things around us try and influence the changes we make. That, of course, is impossible but we still try.
Our influences are constantly changing as well and most often times have to deal with our physical surroundings. Touring influences us a lot these days, I guess.
You’ve been touring tirelessly around the world for a couple years now. I imagine you’ve experienced some pretty diverse crowds; how have these experiences impacted your live show?
This is something that I can’t quite figure out. In the last 2 months alone, we’ve gone back and fourth between playing to single digit audience sizes to thousands, from bars to theatres, headline to support slots etc. What I’ve come to realize is that you have to do what you do. For a long time, we tried to cater to every different crowd that we played to by altering our setlist and modifying the energy level to match the venue, but in the end, what works best is just doing what we do naturally- regardless of the situation.
Growing up in British Columbia, what was your favorite way to experience music? What were your favorite venues like? Has this shaped the way you perform today?
In Kelowna and nearly every other town in BC, there weren’t any real venues. All of the bands that rolled through always played halls and churches or houses. So the music that we all grew up watching and listening to was always local bands with tremendous talent, or bands that small enough to open for the local bands, but big enough for the indie shows on MTV or whatever.
By the time we started playing in the original incarnation of this band, all we knew was this sort of scene and kind of expected it everywhere. We’d book halls across western Canada, then all of Canada only to realize that what we had in Kelowna was something unique. Our naivety led to months of sleeping in the van, eating ramen three meals a day, and very poor business skills. We toured DIY punk style for a few years before we slowly started picking up the more conventional and practical methods to touring and being in a band. It’s much easier now, even if we still sleep in the van the odd time.
Yukon Blonde started out as Alphababy before you took it in a different direction. Additionally, several of you were in bands before joining together. What did you learn in the process of deconstructing other bands so Yukon Blonde could, as they say, rise like a phoenix from the ashes? Did you make mistakes along the way that you were able to sidestep the second time around to ensure YB’s success?
Alphababy was doomed for numerous reasons. We toured too much, got paid way too little and by that I mean that we actually had to sell, pawn, busk… WORK to sustain the band. Furthermore, Alphababy had evolved in such a way sonically that no one was happy with the sound. It took almost breaking up the band and starting several side projects before it all became clear. There were plenty of signs that we shouldn’t continue on our path, the first being the name. We also wrote off our van in a head on collision. I could actually go on and on about all the things that led to the reincarnation of Alphababy, but the list is endless. Once we decided to scrap all of our music, change the name and start fresh, it was incredibly liberating. Everything seemed to fall into place after that. We still make a ton of the same mistakes though.
Speaking of phoenixes, if Yukon Blonde were an animal, what animal would it be? Creative hybrids accepted.
I like to imagine Yukon Blonde as giant Panda Bear with laser beam eyes and tiger striped eagle wings. Wearing like a Van Halen t-shirt, slamming a bottle of Grand Marnier. When he burps, beautiful bursts of green fire erupts incandescently out of his majestic and finely chisled panda bear jaws. I can see him flying through the bowels of hell, fighting Satan upon his unicorn dolphin with his laser beam eyes. He wins. Cause he’s a leader.