Yukon Blonde rolls into town with new album, new energy

Justin Brake
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Yukon Blonde will play at the Rock House Friday night with openers East of Empire. — Submitted Photo

Jeff Innes and his bandmates are pulled over somewhere along a stretch of Saskatchewan highway to find cellphone reception so they can do some media interviews.

This is the way of life for Yukon Blonde, the Vancouver and Kelowna-based rock band whose international prominence might soon eclipse their fame at home.

When their sophomore effort “Tiger Talk” hit record store shelves last month the band’s North American tour, which included a stop at the South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, was well underway and the album had already earned favourable reviews from an armful of large circulation dailies like the Ottawa Citizen, The National Post and USA Today.

This weekend they land in St. John’s for a gig before heading back west for shows in Canada and the U.S. and then hopping the pond for a European tour.

So what is it about “Tiger Talk” that’s catching the ears of fans and critics alike?

It could very well be the profuse energy consistent throughout each of the record’s 10 tracks, but it might have more to do with the timing of the album’s release and the fact that the songs, with their capacious four-part harmonies and punchy arrangements and layers, have summer written all over them.

“I don’t know what really happened that changed,” says Innes, referring to the new songs’ pop-punkish and edgier quality in comparison to those on the band’s 2010 debut self-titled album, which wound up on the long list for the Polaris Music Prize.

“I know that we’ve always had the mentality, like, we’re just going to do whatever we want (and) if people like it that’s awesome, if not that’s too bad,” he laughs.

Truth is, Yukon Blonde has spent the better part of the past two years on the road and, in that time, its members — Innes (guitar/vocals), Brandon Scott (guitar/vocals), Graham Jones (drums, vocals) and John Jeffrey (bass) — have embraced the touring lifestyle.

With that, “Tiger Talk” is a perfect soundtrack for the open road and might be best served on a summer road trip with the windows down and the volume cranked.

Touring fever

So when Innes began penning new tunes last year he and the band had already caught the touring fever.

“We started to really amp up our older songs and we started to get really into playing live, actually having a show,” he says. “We’ve always been about that, but it kind of got to a level when we began playing for a lot of people every night.

“More than anything we just wanted to make a really fun record,” he continues. “We knew how much we’d be touring this record, so, it’s just something different from the dark monotony that’s going on right now,” he laughs, referring to one of the many current trends in Canadian indie music.

“(‘Tiger Talk’) is just kind of refreshing and happy and danceable and stuff.”

The band worked with producer Colin Stewart and laid down the tracks in Comox on Vancouver Island.

Stewart, who has worked with Dan Mangan, Ladyhawk and Hot Hot Heat, was an analog purist for the longest time but, as of late, has ventured into the digital world and embraced more contemporary recording methods like multi-tracking, something there’s a lot of on “Tiger Talk.”

“With his experience it kind of felt like a safe bet because we love all that old analog stuff, and if he could mix the old with the modern style of recording we were totally into it,” says Innes. “He was into the style of music we were into at the time (so) everything just seemed to fit.”

First single “Stairway” is getting decent rotation on mainstream radio and is just the first of a string of tunes from “Tiger Talk” that are likely to make their way to the airwaves. And while that’s all going down the band will likely be somewhere on the road feeding high energy and volume into the ears of enthusiastic fans.

Yukon Blonde will be joined by local band East of Empire at The Rock House Friday night. Tickets are $15 and available at Fred’s Records, O’Brien’s Music, The Ship Pub and in Paradise at Nourish.

Organizations: North American, Ottawa Citizen, National Post The Rock House

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Vancouver, Austin, Texas Canada U.S. Comox Yukon Paradise

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