Yukon Blonde's Endless Summer
These are sunny days for Vancouver's Yukon Blonde as the buzz around them grows and their new record hits the streets
"Well if it's true what they say about guns,
Count me out my dear and drive me into the ocean,
Well if it's true what they say about guns,
Then it's true about me"
"Guns" - Yukon Blonde off "Tiger Talk"
The weather has been all over the map this winter, but for Yukon Blonde, the sun hasn't stopped shining. With their sophomore full-length record "Tiger Talk" just out on Dine Alone Records, these boys are on a tear. They've been touring Europe the last few months and made a pitstop in Australia during the end of the new year for the Peats Ridge festival. Constantly moving and popping in and out of festivals from city to city nothing seems to be slowing these guys down. They even made it in to the "How I Met Your Mother" script during the 7th season of the show. With all of this going on, the guys somehow found time to record this gem of a record. Continuing on with what they know best, the group has carried on with their unique riffs, up tempo hooks and lyrics that speak to you and tell you a story.
This band from Kelowna, BC formed back in 2005 as Alphababy. While Alphababy, they released two EPs but decided to change the name of the band to Yukon Blonde after a suggestion from touring partner at the time, Jon-Rae Fletcher. In 2009, the band came strong with their first EP as Yukon Blonde called "Everything in Everyway" and followed that up with their debut self-titled album in February 2010. The album came with a lot of praise from all parts of North America but also generate comparisons to other great classic bands such as Fleetwood Mac and America. The guys came back in 2011with their second EP "Fire//Water" but also added bass player John Jeffery to their roster. This EP had a strong message and a different sound from what they've previously become accustom to in some of their earlier work. "Fire//Water" tinkered around serious topic such as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the recoccuring forest fires throughout parts of North America and the worlds shortage of water.
...and the fantasy band that I had in mind was called "Sucking Tigers". Releasing this record really tells you what these beauties are all about. But also shows you their versatilely as musicians and Jeff Innes (songwriter/guitarist) writing ability to step away from love stories and hardships and touch on the hard button topics that affect our globe. Personally, I think "Fire/Water" really hushed up a lot of the critics that were doubting this band and labelling them as "another version of x or y".
Amil - How busy have you been today because I was told today was your phoner media day?
Jeff - Well, not very busy because I haven't been able to do many interviews. I guess the phone calls haven't been coming through just like yours didn't the first couple times. A lot of the interviews have been scheduled but aren't connecting and there have been some really weird things happening with a few of the interview. Wrong numbers and family emergencies just to name a few.
Amil - Let's start you off on the right foot then. Congratulations on the new record! It made it to my inbox a couple days ago and its phenomenal. And I want to say that It honestly didn't surprised me that it was a good record because you guys have been consistent releasing quality material right from "Everything in Everyway" to your last EP "Fire//Water". Though there is this repetitive nature in releasing good material, you also have somehow patterned how you release your content. Let me explain. Yukon Blonde released "Everything in Everyway" which was a 4 track EP. And then you released your first self-titled full length album which was 10 tracks and followed that up with last falls release of "Fire//Water" EP which was another 4 tracker. And now you are back with "Tiger Talk" which is….a 10 track LP. Could you explain to me the trend that you guys have constructed by releasing your albums in this patternized manner? Is this something you boys had in mind…did the label play a factor…or do you guys feel this is a good way to release your material?
Jeff - Thank you firstly. And I think that we all in a way have some sort of obsession with numbers. Both times when we discussed about doing our full length, we talked about doing 14 song records because the songs off the "Everything in Everyway" EP were recorded the same time we did our first full length. And then the same thing happened with "Fie//Water" coincidentally. We ended up recording 14 songs and it's so weird that it turned out that way both times.
Amil - When I was going through your pressers and some other related material, it seemed odd that you and your bandmates would agree on releasing material in this manner but it works for you guys.
Jeff - We actually recorded 15 songs on this album and the one song sort of got lost in the mix. It was the one song that we didn't really want to release so then we ended up with 14 songs that we really wanted to get out there. It's a bit weird that with both "Everything in Everyway" and "Fire//Water" there were these 4 songs that stood out so much from the rest of the material that we managed to make two Eps and two full lengths. We didn't want to make a 9 song record. We thought about doing a 3 song EP cause there was so many choices out there and the sounds are so similar.
Amil - "Fire//Water" really puts you in that campfire mood where everyone is chillin' out and relaxing. It's one of those EPs where you want to sit down around a campfire, light one up and take in the the music but also the message. Each song on that EP presents a powerful message. You are one of the rare bands that's out right now that will release these teaser and it will keep people coming back for more. When you guys released "Fire//Water", did you know it was going to flow so well? And Is this something you guys had in mind or the label had in mind?
Jeff - We kind of just like doing it. A lot of our favourite bands have been doing it for years and I guess we just picked up on it. And another beautiful part about the EPs is that we never release them on CDs. We always release them on 12' vinyl. We probably aren't going to keep this same pattern forever but we really like releasing these exclusively vinyl collecttables for people who just really like music.
Amil - I really want to get into some of the lyrics in your music and talk about you since you are the lead songwriter for Yukon Blonde. I've been listening to you guys for almost three years now and have been going through your discography in a in-depth manner the last week or two trying to see changes or regular occurrences. How do you think you've changed as a writer?
Jeff - That's an interesting question. I think if you write music or words or anything, you're bound to change. There's different influences and inspiration that comes up all the time. I think the biggest thing is that I've never been fully proud or felt like I've accomplished exactly what I've wanted to do.
Amil - That actually leads me to my next question. Are you your own worst critic?
Jeff - Yeah. Absolutely. And I feel like when something is done and maybe in that moment I feel like, "yeah, this is going to work or we are really doing it….this is the sound that I'm looking for.." and a few months will pass by and I'm unsure of what we've created. But the one positive thing about all of this is that it keeps me writing songs, keeps humbled and sort of grounded. The main thing is that I don't ever want to be stuck. That was one of the big things after our self-titled record was released and we were getting a lot of America & Fleetwood Mac comparisons. And I love those bands but there was something about getting comparisons to Fleet Foxes constantly. I don't want to be a Fleet Foxes band, I kind of want to be our band. Yukon Blonde. I don't ever want to get stuck in a corner. I always want to feel like I can write whatever I want.
Amil - And you should never feel like you are cornered when you are writing because it's about the experience and expression. I'm sitting here with a bucket full of CD's to my right and I listen to all of them. I give them all a chance but all your albums stand out to me where I want to listen to them in their entirety. As a young canadian songwriter, I think you have a bright future ahead of you. There is something that stands out between your EPs and your self-titled full length album to your sophomore album now….you can really see the way you're re changing and how the band is evolving with all these life experiences. You guys spend a lot of time on the road and it gives you a lot of time to think, and write about the things you've been going through. Do you think those life experiences of being on the road, traveling the world, spending time away from your family, not seeing your girl or that partner in your life that's missing you? Or evening having those temptations on the road, do they influence the way you write and does the style transcend through your music?
Jeff - Oh huge. It's a massive part in my writing style. I guess since we released our self-titled record, the only time we've had at home was to record "Tiger Talk". So when we look at this record, it's entirely a road record. And I didn't realise it at the time because some of the songs were written at home. We'd have two days off and I'd sit at home and just write. Some were written on days off on tour. And in retrospect, I look back at that record and not only are all these songs about road experiences or how lonely we might get but it's even the sounds we were exposed to. From all the bands we've toured with to places we've been. It's a road record for sure.
Amil - Do you guys like touring? Because not a lot of young Canadian bands get the opportunity to go tour the world and explore Europe.
"You are breaking up again. You kind of sound like a robot. " - Jeff
Jeff - We had a big discussion in the van about this recently. We aren't getting older but we are kind of getting older. So we just got a new bass player John Jeffery and he's been in the band for about a year now or just over a year. And everywhere we go he's always excited and blown away by how amazing this all really is and all the parties that we get to attend. But it's getting to the point where Graham (drums), Brandon (guitar) and myself are starting to take care of ourselves. Squeak in time off and fly our girlfriends down whenever we can. Like that sort of thing. It's just funny to see John who's 24 and he's…..cause we've been touring for years now and he just got in to it. The three of us love it but John is just over the moon excited.
Amil - Could you quickly explain "Tiger Talk" and what it means to you guys? How it came about?
Jeff - Well, there is a couple stories here. The quickest explanation is…whenever I do demos, so whenever i'm writing or in the phase of writing, I usually make up fantasy bands in my head or fantasy projects in my head. And I give them a title when I'm recording them and the fantasy band that I had in mind was called "Sucking Tigers". It was suppose to be this electronic pop theatre band but they sort of had a punk thing. So I had a file folder for all of those songs and all the titles had tiger at the end of them so I could reference them.
Amil - And you kept two of the songs on this album?
Jeff - Yeah. There was a few more on the album but we ended up changing the name of them because it was getting redundant. Anyways, when we were doing the demos and started to get stuff ready for this record, I had a whole bunch of stuff set aside for Yukon Blonde and the band didn't really like it. They like the "Sucking Tiger" stuff. I mean "Oregon Shores" (track 5 on Tiger Talk) is definitely meant to be a Yukon Blonde song but most of the stuff they picked was from this fantasy electro thing. It was really cool cause I never thought the music would see the light of day. So we started working on those songs. And that's part of the tiger reference. The reason why we felt stuck to the "Tiger Talk" thing is because tigers are a pretty good analogy for "The American Dream", which is this beautiful thing of opportunity. But tigers themselves are all being wiped out and so is the american dream. The whole tiger things seemed to fit and made sense at the time. It kind of seems like a stoners mind-set ---> as he chuckles.
Amil - It doesn't come off as a stoner album if you listen through it a couple of times. You have to let the album sink in through the first few listens. And the more I listened to it, the more I started feeling like the tiger was the vulnerable one in the picture. There are songs on this album that talk about certain flaws that someone may carry in "My Girl" and then there is a song about having to say goodbye to someone that you've become so attached to in "Sweet Dee". Songs like these don't portray someone that's in control but more in a position of uncertainty. Tigers represent power and masculinity so why put "Sweet Dee" at the end of the record when it's the most vulnerable song to me?
Jeff - That's what that is. And the reason to why 'Guns" and "Sweet Dee" are at the end of the record is because they are the ones that I feel represent the album as a whole. They are kind of like these really sad songs…..
Amil - But they are songs that people will relate to and they also say something. Not all those memories are bad, right?
Jeff - The song "Sweet Dee" is about that love story where there are those two people that are totally in to each other but at the end of it all, there is no way it'll happened.
Amil - Would you say that song was the hardest to write or at least the hardest to perform?
Jeff - That song was a piece of cake. We got together on Vancouver Island and we were kind of arranging songs and getting them together. It's really stressful when you are trying to work out an entire record in three weeks. We'd getting started at 10 in the morning and finish up at 10 at night. But, at the end of the day we'd just jam and muck around. I can't remember what was happening but I think Brandon was messing around with the van or was doing something. Graham & I were just jamming and then John came in. It was so classic and everyone just came into this jam. The song was written in like an hour or two minus the lyrics. We decided to demo it that night and I wrote up the lyrics. It just felt right and it was a good stress reliever at the same time.
Amil - What artist(s) influenced you to write this record, if any?
Jeff - There was a few that I was listening to a lot. The Buzzcoks were one of the biggest ones. I was listening to a lot of Fela Kuti, the African afro-beat artist. New-Order and a lot 80s stuff. It's kind of weird when you are talking about inspiration and artist that inspire because I feel like some surroundings may inspire you to listen to a certain kind of music. Whenever we are at parties or on the road, we get inspired to listen to certain kinds of music.
Jeff - Oh yeah! The talking heads are huge!
Encore w/ Jeff Innes of Yukon Blonde
1. What are you listening to right now?
Jeff - Air and their new album called "Le Voyage Dans La Lune" (It's amazing!)
2. Best city in Europe to perform/party in?
Jeff - Berlin (hands down)…its actually a toss between Stockholm.
Jeff - Berlin: you can party all night there. It's amazing! And they are avid lovers of music. Stockholm: we've never played in Stockholm and the reception was amazing! The bar was really cool as well.
3. Drink of choice?
Jeff - Bourbon
4. How do you take your coffee?
Jeff - 2 milk 2 sugar!
5. Pen, pencil, quill or sharpie...whats your writing utensil of choice?
Jeff - sharpie
6. Hidden talent?
Jeff - I can do rubiks cubes
7. Favourite Magazine or Paper?
Jeff - Old format Rolling Stones
8. Favourite sports team to cheer for?
Jeff - Canucks
9. Favourite sports team to cheer against?
Jeff - I don't want to say this because it's still sore from last year but the Bruins. I feel like picking on these guys for no reason but the Senators as well.
10. Craziest thing you've gotten from a fan?
Jeff - I got a really rad illustrated drawing from this girl named Shannon McFarlln, She came to one of our shows and showed us all these crazy illustrations.
11. Favourite way to touch base with the fans; Twitter, Facebook, Instagram?
Jeff: Twitter! John does the Instagram.
You can catch Yukon Blonde on their cross Canada tour starting on March 22nd in Edmonton, AB. For more tour dates, check out www.yukonblonde.com and follow them on twitter @yukonblonde for that personal fix. You can also stream the full "Tiger Talk" record on Exclaim.ca --> http://exclaim.ca/MusicVideo/ClickHear/yukon_blonde-tiger_talk_album_streamcomments powered by Disqus