Interview: Yukon Blonde

Oh Canada (oh Canada). You’ve been good to us over the years. You gave us maple syrup, Mounties, Jason Priestly and Pamela Anderson. Things got a little shaky, admittedly, with Avril Lavigne and Nickelback, but then we put more maple syrup on our pancakes and, in the ensuing sugar rush, things looked pretty rosy again. And what do we do to repay you, oh great and most generous giver of a country? Largely, by making fun of your accent. So it stands to reason you’d want to keep something to yourself; one delicious tid-bit that’s all yours that you can keep close to your chest and smugly grin over, while we’re busy deriding your pronunciation of ‘about’.

Sorry Canada, the secret’s out.

Meet Yukon Blonde (what am I saying, you probably already have), once billed as ‘Canada’s best kept secret.’ But, like an out of control game of Chinese Whispers after you did something really stupid and embarrassing that time, word of the indie rockers has spread, like the proverbial wild fire. If the long queue stretching out the door, to probably Canada, at their slot at The Great Escape last year wasn’t proof enough, how about the crowd’s word perfect sing-a-long that ensued? Or the many bellowed out requests, which front man, Jeff Innes, obligingly agreed to launch into.

Despite forming way back in 2005, under their former moniker Alphababy, it wasn’t until 2010 that they released their eponymously titled debut as Yukon Blonde, a record whose retro rock melodies speak of roots firmly planted in the 70s. 2011 was when things really began to pick up though, with the release of EP Fire/Water, a lot of touring? “The only time we stopped was to pick up John” (Jeffrey, bass)? the signing of a record label and recording of their second album, Tiger Talk, which was released earlier this year.

The effects of the non-stop touring and addition of a permanent band member are evident in their progression with the second album, which they describe, among other choice words, as a more ‘straightforward’ effort. “This one’s a lot more in your ass.” Precisely.

“The first one was a little rawer. I guess it didn’t capture the live scene so much. So this one has our live sound.” Ironic really, given the first was a live record, compared to the structured and deliberate, track-by-track recording process of their second, they admit. “The live show has an energy to it. When you’re in the studio playing live, you’re thinking about just playing really well, cleanly, and that’s how it came out, as opposed to getting sweaty and having a crazy time on stage.” Yukon Blonde’s mellow 70’s vibes and folk influences have been replaced with a punk mentality in Tiger Talk that is charged with the same frenetic energy that drives their live shows. “It’s a better representation of the band. More rock n roll.” Not to mention, “we sweat more.”

The sweating is not to be underestimated. Nay, never underestimate the mystic power of sweat, as with it came success in the form of bigger crowds and a better reaction outside of their native Canada.  “It’s been getting better and better. The last time we played here, everyone was so enthusiastic. The turnouts were great. And we are one show in to this tour, but so far the show earlier today was great.”

Despite the fact that Tiger Talk has not long been released at the time of this talk, they can already claim that the reception of this has been, “the best it’s been for records for us.” And if the absolutely rammed audience at their aforementioned TGE performance isn’t proof enough, I don’t know what is.

Thanks Canada, for the music.

Illustration: Natasha Durley