Yukon Blonde Embrace Spontaneity With On Blonde

Photo by Olivia Jaffe
Photo by Olivia Jaffe

Bucking the trend of being pretentious rock stars with overinflated egos, B.C. pop band Yukon Blonde has a sense of humour and aren’t afraid of showing it.

For definitive proof, one needs to only look towards the title of their latest record, On Blonde. Although the title of their third full-length effort may seem innocuous to some, when said in context with their band name, the record’s title suddenly harkens back to Bob Dylan’s 1966’s masterpiece Blonde On Blonde – Yukon Blonde On Blonde. Get it now?

“We’re all pretty big Dylan fans; there are a couple of us whose favourite record is Blonde On Blonde. I don’t recall exactly who came up with the idea to name the record On Blonde, but as soon as it was floated, it pretty much stuck,” Yukon Blonde’s Jeff Innes says. “We think it’s funny more than anything. We don’t really take ourselves all that seriously.”

While the characters behind the music may not take life so seriously, On Blonde is a rather compelling snapshot of a band hitting their stride. The album finds the band casting a greater reliance on keyboards than on past efforts, injecting their music with the same vibrant energy that drove the new wave movement of the early 80’s.

Innes shares that, compared to prior efforts, Yukon Blonde stopped sweating the small stuff with On Blonde, suggesting that much of the charm oozing from the songs on On Blonde most likely has to do with the fact that once they didn’t over rehearse the songs to the point of bleeding the soul out of the material.

“In a way, we find the album has charm that we had been trying to capture on other albums, but hadn’t managed to do until this record. The album was made over the course of six months, which is actually the longest it has taken us to make a record,” Innes says. “What was different about the songwriting process this time around was the fact that we decided to work the songs out in the studio in efforts to keep a spontaneous feeling running through them. Rather than running through the same songs a few dozen times to fine-tune them, we would start with a loose idea or passage and build it together,” he says.

Despite being a prolific live act that has toured throughout Canada, Europe, and the United States, Innes says that On Blonde was the first record made by the band where they didn’t concern themselves with how the songs would be reproduced in concert. By choosing to focus their energy and vibes on ensuring the songs lived up to their full potential on record, the group says the decision has since allowed the material to evolve in ways that helps keep it fresh for both the band and audience.

“With this record, we didn’t write the songs with the live show in mind, which kind of forced us to go back and revisit how the material should be interpreted in concert. It was definitely a challenge, but one that we welcomed as we realized that by things being a little different between the record and the live show, we are actually creating two different experiences for our fans. How we go about connecting those experiences is up to us.

“In some ways, it’s almost like we are our own cover band,” Innes laughs.

By the time Yukon Blonde reach Moncton to perform at the Tide & Boar on Thursday, Sept. 17, they will have just returned from Australia and, following their four Atlantic Canadian shows, will be jetting off to Europe for shows in Denmark, Holland, and the United Kingdom.

The band will enjoy a relatively quiet October before they get set to mount another tour through Canada and the U.S. one last time before ushering in the new year. They will be joining acclaimed Newfoundland group Hey Rosetta for a total of 18 shows in cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto, Saint John and Halifax.

Having had the opportunity to tour throughout Canada, the U.S. and Europe, Innes says one of the biggest cultural differences he has seen between North America and Europe is the way in which people appreciate the arts.

“In North America, we tend to put musicians on pedestals, and while that also holds true for some places in the U.K., France, and Germany, Europeans don’t tend to sensationalize things as much. From what I’ve seen, Europeans have a great reverence for art and music, which of course isn’t to say that North Americans don’t appreciate what we have. The Europeans’ approach is just different in comparison.”

What: Yukon Blonde with Rah Rah
When: Thursday Sept. 17, 9 p.m.
Where: Tide & Boar Gastropub, 700 Main St., Moncton
Tickets are $18 (plus service charge). Advance tickets are available online at www.tideandboar.com/music