Over the past two years, Yukon Blonde has earned no shortage of acclaim for its hook-heavy brand of pop rock. But despite their love of vintage rock ‘n’ roll, the members aren’t the kind of guys who cling to the past.
Frontman Jeff Innes, guitarist Brandon Scott and drummer Graham Jones first joined forces in 2005 in their hometown of Kelowna, BC. Performing under the name Alphababy, they released two EPs and toured extensively while perfecting a slow-burning variety of synth-heavy rock. But when the project soured, the three friends abandoned all of their hard work and reinvented themselves as Yukon Blonde in 2008.
Starting from scratch with a new name, they ditched their moody style in favour of a more raw, guitar-driven sound. Catchier and infinitely more fun to play live, Yukon Blonde’s new songs quickly earned the band a devoted following when they relocated to Vancouver, BC. It was in this city that Yukon Blonde cut its debut EP, Everything in Everyway, in 2009. Recorded live-to-tape with producer Shawn Cole (You Say Party!, Hannah Georgas), these sessions also spawned the band’s 2010 self-titled full-length.
With its amped-up rock songs and sun-dappled vocal harmonies, the LP received rave reviews. CHARTattack called it “the soundtrack to your summer,” while Exclaim! declared, “The nuances that Yukon Blonde employ are utterly refreshing, and more compelling with each listen.” The record earned a nomination for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize, and the outfit embarked upon a gruelling live schedule that kept them on the road for nine months of the year and included shows in the U.S., Europe and at home. During this time, the band expanded its ranks to include a full-time bassist, John Jeffrey.
Now, Yukon Blonde is poised to reinvent itself once again. Despite the success of the group’s previous material, the musicians were initially uninspired when they set about writing like-minded new songs. Instead, the members were drawn to the fast, punk-tinged tracks that Innes has been penning in his spare time. Danceable and unrepentantly poppy, these new tracks evoked late-’70s/early-’80s post-punk and drew inspiration from artists like the Buzzcocks, Ramones and Talking Heads.
After an intensive three-week writing retreat in BC’s Comox Valley that saw the band pulling twelve-hour days, Yukon Blonde hunkered down at Burnaby, BC’s Hive Creative Labs studio with Colin Stewart (Black Mountain, Ladyhawk). Eschewing the analog tape of their past work in favour of a crisp digital approach with synthesizer flourishes, the band agonized over tones and meticulously crafted 15 new songs.
Four of these songs sounded out of place, and bore a distinct similarity to the debut. Yukon Blonde opted to release these four cuts separately as the 2011 EP Fire//Water. With the fan base’s appetite sufficiently whetted, the group held back the remaining tracks for their second full length album.
Currently wrapping up a 62 show tour of North America behind Fire//Water the band is now ready to introduce the world to their next release – the first single from the upcoming album – a song called Stairway that brightly elevates the band’s surging arrangements. Slotted for release on January 31st, Yukon Blonde’s Stairway 7” also includes as a B-Side a home-recorded DEMO version of a future album track called “Radio”, which assaults the speakers with a brash stomp worthy of early Elvis Costello. Melodically contrasted with one another, both songs on the Stairway 7” hint at the range of paths sonically taken with the band’s sophomore LP which will be available in early 2012.
Artistically uncompromising as ever, Yukon Blonde have already proved that they are willing to go wherever their restless artistic muse takes them. The next stop: a live venue near you, as these road warriors will be racking up yet more miles on the odometer in the very near future and heading on tours across Australia, Europe and North America.
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