After a recording session in the studio at the Hive in Vancouver this March, Yukon Blonde tours North America with gigs at Los Angeles and the Utah Hotel Saloon in San Francisco before heading to the Dawson City Music Festival.
It will be their first time meeting their geographic namesake, and maybe even a few real Yukon blondes.
Rod Jacob tossed a few questions to Jeffrey Innes (vocals, guitar, songwriter) and got hit with tales of ice-cream bar etymology, sprained-footed drummers and diarrhea songs.
RJ: Is anyone in your band blonde, or has been blonde in the past?
JI: Well, I was back in middle school. It looked horrible, especially since I just let the roots grow out and never cut or dyed it.
RJ: Have you ever met an actual Yukon blonde?
JI: Yes! We’re friends with your current Rendezvous Queen, Caroline Carter, but that’s about it.
RJ: Your band used to be called Alphababy. I think I speak for a lot of Yukoners when I wonder about how you ended up being called “Yukon Blonde”. Can you tell us about (Canadian rock-gospel musician) Jon-Rae Fletcher and his role in how you got your name?
JI: Well, we toured with Jon-Rae around the time we were thinking of changing our band name. We came across a real ice cream stand in the middle of Alberta and obviously had to stop for some.
On the way over, Jon-Rae was talking about how bad our band name was and how it could literally be anything else.
He began pointing at random objects saying, “Road”, “Tree”, et cetera as we entered the stand and walked up to the front.
In the display they had a new flavor called Yukon Blonde, which I guess was some kind of white chocolate mint. And that was that.
RJ: Do you remember the first song you wrote as a kid?
JI: Yeah. My first song sucked. But Brandon’s (Brandon Scott, guitar and vocals) was “Cool World.”
With the exact same melody line as that: “When you’re driving in your Chevy and you feel something heavy, Diarrhea!” except his went: “When you’re walking down the street and you see something neat, cool world! Cool world!”
I like that song.
RJ: Would you ever play it live now?
JI: I think we should.
RJ: Your drummer, Graham Jones, is reported to have broken his foot last year. Is he back on “the throne”?
JI: Ha-ha, yeah. But he didn’t break his foot. He just sprained it, which impeded us from making our record on time.
Before he was healed, he suffered a hernia operation. In the end, it took about six months before schedules could work and we were back on track.
RJ: So what is it with drummers, anyway?
JI: You’re preaching to the choir. I’ll bet that there’s some book out there that explains some of the enigmas that come together to make a drummer, but in the end no one will truly know what it is with drummers.
RJ: Would you punch me if I wrote that your music sounds like “the mutant love child of Wilco and the Momma and the Poppas”?
JI: Yes. Leave out “love” and I think you’re onto something.
RJ: Would you ever consider forming a super-group to play a show or record an album with other “Blonde” named bands?
JI: Well, no. But funny you mention this, because I’m listening to Nada Surf’s Blonde on Blonde and I just finished listening to Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde. I was thinking it’d be funny if we called our next record Yukon on Yukon.
RJ: Tell me about your current line-up – you are playing as a four-piece – are you all from Kelowna? Were you one of those bands who got together in high school?
JI: Naa. Graham and I went to school together but didn’t form until a couple years after.
We’re not really from Kelowna, but we lived there when we formed the band and for quite a few years before and after.
New guy is John Jeffrey (bass guitar) and he’s cool. Too cool for us.
RJ: What were the best/worst things about growing up and living in Kelowna?
JI: Good music, and terrible music. No venues, but tons of folks who loved to see live music.
Anyone in a band from Kelowna can throw a DIY hall show like that*. (Snaps fingers)
It’s a very bizarre town with city interests all over the map except helping young people survive or be entertained.
RJ: So what year did you really start playing together?
JI: Began in ’05. Sorta different band, different idea, but we still have the original three.
RJ: Will you be playing any new/unreleased material at the Dawson City Music Festival?
JI: We just finished recording a batch of songs and it’s tough to say how they’ll be released but we’re very happy with them. And yes, of course we’ll be playing some!
RJ: Do you think your band’s live sound differs much from your studio recordings? I ask because there is quite a lot of subtle guitar and back-up vocals on the recordings I’ve heard.
JI: I think it’s a whole different thing. Every time our band goes in for a batch of rehearsals, we try and re-invent the songs to fit how we are at that moment.
The way I see it is that a recording should just be viewed as a snapshot in time; how the band and the songs were at that moment.
As for the music, it’s always changing, growing and sometimes getting much worse.
Rod Jacob is the self-described “oldest Rock writer in the Cosmos”.