Yukon Blonde is an indie rock/folk group from Canada. Originally from Kelowna, British Columbia, a city on Okanagan Lake, the band is now based primarily in Vancouver. The crew came together in 2005 under the name Alphababy and released two EPs; You Gentle Crustacean in 2006 and Alphababy Live in 2008. The band changed their name to their current moniker Yukon Blonde in 2009 and released their first full-length self-titled album in 2010. The current band line up consists of Jeff Innes (Vocals, Guitar), Brandon Scott (Guitar, Vocals), Graham Jones (Drums, Vocals), and John Jeffrey (Bass). CBC declared Yukon Blonde one of the top 10 Canadian bands to break out. In March 2012, Yukon Blonde released their second full-length album, Tiger Talk, on Nevado/Dine Alone Records.
One of the questions we're constantly asked is, “How do you guys pick all of the bands that are featured in Band of the Day?” Normally our process involves everything from closing our eyes and pointing to a random artist in our iTunes library, to inventing crazy band names and seeing if they actually exist (ok, so maybe none of this is true...). This time, we were tipped off by Tyler Bancroft, the frontman for our March 8th band, Said The Whale. When we asked who his Band of the Day would be that day, he answered, “Yukon Blonde from Vancouver. They're fucking amazing!” After doing our own investigation we found that Yukon Blonde is, indeed, pretty amazing. The foursome has just released their second full-length album, Tiger Talk, which includes harmony-laden songs like “Stairway” and “Oregon Shores” that skitter between folk and indie rock stylings. Hot off their album release, we spoke with lead vocalist Jeffrey Innes to find out more about their recording process, some of the biggest obstacles the band has overcome, and which Yukon Blonde song he'd play to subdue the legendary Ogopogo monster of the Okanagan Lake in their native city of Kelowna, British Columbia.
Band of the Day: Question: Hi, Jeff! So when I was doing research on Yukon Blonde, I came across the following quote from one of your fans, “Sounds like Fleet Foxes on Viagra having sleazy intercourse with Fleetwood Mac. You know, in a good way.” What do you make of that assessment?
Jeff: [laughs] I don’t know...that's kind of interesting! I guess it's kinda like some guy who was at our show in Missoula, I think it was, and he said that if the Traveling Wilburys had a baby with the Buzzcocks, that's what it would sound like. I guess it's kinda the same thing if Fleet Foxes were on Viagra and with Fleetwood Mac? Maybe...yeah, I could see that [laughs]!
Band of the Day: What is one of the best memories from recording your album Tiger Talk?
Jeff: I don’t know...it's all bad memories! No, I'm joking. One of my favorite things about recording is when you get into the studio the first day, and you have that setup day, and most people are like, “I just wanna record.” You have to setup the drums, and setup the mics, and do all this shit. I really like it because at that point the record could go any way. There’s like infinite possibilities when you’re setting up. It’s just like, we’re here, we’re in the studio, what’s going to happen? And [with Tiger Talk] it was like ten times that of any other record because we were gonna do the record multi-track as opposed to live. We always do it live off the floor. So when we were setting up, we were like, it could really go anyway, you know?
Band of the Day: Tell me about how you came up with the artwork for Tiger Talk?
Jeff: We were touring constantly, and in the middle of a four-month tour our manager was like, “We need artwork.” The person that usually does all of our artwork is my girlfriend, Nicole. But she was busy with school at the time, so we got a fancy camera and tried to do it on our own, but it kinda just wasn't really coming together. Then, in between, we were scheduled to play Vancouver and then Atlanta four days later. The rest of the guys drove down to Atlanta, and I came home [to Vancouver] to try and get everything together with Nicole in basically one and a half days. So Nicole and I went and got huge baking trays, we filled them with water, froze them, and just started painting them and photographed some stuff. So that's what that is—painted ice just melting in sort of a tray. It's kind of inspired by this guy we really like, this artist named Chris who paints ice cubes and photographs them, like macro photography, super close up. We wanted ours to be more kind of like a landscape sort of scene, though, and I'm glad it really worked out so well. And the design and layout and everything [of the album] is all Nicole.
Band of the Day: Did you have a lot of failed album artwork? And what did you do with it?
Jeff: There’s just tons and tons and tons of files of photographs. But it's actually kinda cool because we didn't have a lot of extra content for the last record, but we could seriously make like fifty album covers with the amount of photographs we have! We probably have like nine sheets of ice that we painted and let completely melt to nothing, and just photographed them constantly.
Band of the Day: Being a band that tours pretty regularly, what are some of the most creative ways you’ve learned to save money on the road?
Jeff: Well, there’s a couple of cool things we figured out. If you go to Wendy’s and order a burger without meat, it’s like sixty cents. So that’s pretty great. And buying anything that can be heated up, like that can be completely cooked by hot water, is a good money-saver. A long time ago, I used to buy those giant things of instant oatmeal, so it would be like ten cents a breakfast. And then you'd get those cup-of-noodles for lunch, but we don't really do that anymore. Now our limousine driver totally makes us gourmet meals, and I have a filet mignon chef [laughs].
Band of the Day: What’s the most embarrassing on-stage moment you’ve had? And how did you get over it?
Jeff: I always feel like I’m going to fall over every time I play. I’ve come close. I’ve come very, very close, but I never do. But Graham [Jones, drummer] has completely fallen off the stage. Like sometimes the stool kinda sits near the back of the stage. He’s gone there, man! Like, he’s fallen off so many times. We’ll be coming out, you know, like if somebody requests an encore, and several times when he’s coming back on stage, he’s tripped over all our stuff, and like, knocked our guitars over. He’s probably the clumsiest person in the world [laughs]! Oh wait, actually this one time I did fall off the stage trying to do this cool rock and roll move. I was leaning up against our keyboard player and he kinda wasn’t expecting it, so he gave way, and we both, and the keyboard, fell off the side of the stage. There’s been so many actually. We’re really big fans of that movie Spinal Tap. And I know that we’ve had some moments that are basically from that movie. It’s pretty brutal, the falling on stage. I don’t know why that’s the most embarrassing to me.
Band of the Day: Besides falling off of stages, what are some of the biggest obstacles you guys have overcome as a band?
Jeff: I don’t know. We’ve almost broken up a few times, and that’s always hard. When you sort of come out of that, it feels really good, if you come out of it the right way. There’s a couple of friend's bands of ours that have constantly changed members. We don’t really like that, it’s not really loyal. It’s not really cool. So we changed the band name instead. But that was definitely one of the hardest obstacles we’ve overcome. That was a pretty heavy time. I don’t know. It’s obstacles everyday I feel like. You know, like we crash the van, or we lose a bunch of luggage, I dunno. It's always crazy.
Band of the Day: So what would you say keeps you going when you face all these obstacles?
Jeff: I don’t know. There’s always something on the horizon. It’s just like, you know, it’s the same reason that people don't commit suicide everyday when something goes wrong. There’s always just some sort of beacon of hope, you know. It’s just right around the corner. So there’s always just sort of a, you know, next level sort of accomplishment. There's always that next goal.
Band of the Day: What is the best false thing you’ve read about yourselves?
Jeff: Well somebody wrote, “This is Yukon Blonde’s third record and it’s easily their best yet.” [Yukon Blonde only have two records out]. I think that’s really one of the best. Or sometimes, it’s happened more than once, but some people have mixed our biography with Lady Hawke’s biography. And it’s not like that unbelievable that it would happen. I mean, we’re really good friends with the band, and we’re both from Kelowna, we both live and play in Vancouver, but still it’s kind of a weird thing to do.
Band of the Day: Imagine you are swimming in Okanagan Lake and the Ogopogo monster is about to attack you. What Yukon Blonde song would you play to subdue the monster?
Jeff: “Radio”. I don’t know...or maybe, there’s a new song we have called “Sweet Pea.” It’s really like a slow burner. But why would you wanna get it subdued? You could be the first human to get eaten by the Ogopogo, that’d be so cool [laughs]!
Band of the Day: When you’re old and grey what will you look back on as one of your fondest memories of the band so far?
Jeff: I think our first European trip. This is one of my favorite memories. We were kinda just walking around Paris all day. Just walking around Paris for an entire day. But we were running around the entire time and doing these fake video interviews with people. We kept running up to people and asking, “Hey can you do the best you can today?” and they’d be like “Yes?” Or we'd ask, “Madam, you can be all that you can be, right?” We were so tired. We were kinda drunk. But it was just so much fun.
Band of the Day: Finally, who is your Band of the Day today?
Jeff: Air. Their new record rules. It’s awesome.