Interview Series: Jeff Innes of Yukon Blonde

I decided earlier in the new year that I wanted to bring a new dimension to MoreThanAFeeling Music Blog. I was very happy with where the blog was going and the feedback I had been getting, but I wanted to branch out a little bit.  So I decided to send out an email, and sure enough, I got a response!

I emailed Vancouver band Yukon Blonde and asked politely if they’d be willing to do an interview for the blog, and sure enough, they agreed!

So I packed up my geeky cue cards filled with questions and my digital voice recorder and ventured out to the big city to meet up with Jeff Innes, the lead singer and rhythm guitar player of Yukon Blonde and to ask him a few questions.

**Short notice: If you are a fan of Yukon Blonde and/or Plants & Animals, they are playing at the Commodore TONIGHT, Feb. 18, 2011!! $25 tickets, well worth it! Check them out!**

MoreThanAFeeling Music Interview with Jeff Innes of Yukon Blonde

Dylan: Alright, so I’m here with Jeff from Yukon Blonde, lead singer and guitar player. I’m gonna ask him a couple of questions regarding Yukon Blonde, the band he fronts out of Vancouver.  So Jeff, you guys are currently residing in Vancouver.

Jeff: Correct.

Dylan: You are not from Vancouver, though.

Jeff: No.

Dylan: Where are you from?

Jeff: Well, originally, we were all born in different places, but we all met at some point in Kelowna and started the band in Kelowna under a different moniker, Alphababy.  We moved to Vancouver some time after changing the name to Yukon Blonde.

Dylan: Nice, so why the change of name?

Jeff: Well, the other name, Alphababy, sucks.  That’s a bad band name (laughs).  There’s a couple reasons.  We played a few shows and anyone who came to check us out, such as booking agents and stuff, their only advice was “Change your name!”  We went on tour with Jon-Rae Fletcher, we were backing him up after he left The River and he kept saying the whole time, “You guys are a great band, you really gotta change your name.” When we decided to change the name, it came at a perfect timing.  A couple members of the band left.  We decided to write all new music, ditch all the Alphababy music and write a whole new…. Sound! (laughs).  So we kind of made it so it felt right, so we weren’t just changing a name but kind of forming a new band.

Dylan: Cool, right on.  So, any insight as to how Yukon Blonde, the actual name was decided upon?

Jeff: Yea, like any band does when they’re coming up with a band name, everybody kind of brainstorms and comes up with lists upon lists of cool band names. So we had all these lists and we couldn’t decide.  We had to narrow it down to 10 names.  We were at a pub in Kelowna one night, and our bass player at the time, Adam shows up and had just come from work.  At work, he was cleaning up and there was a white hair on the table while he was cleaning up and I guess he saw the white hair and was like, “Kathy,” who was his boss, “you’re shedding!  There’s hair all over the counter!” She said, “That’s not my hair!”  He’s like, “Yeah, it is. I’m not grey.”  She said, “I’m not grey, I’m Yukon blonde.” Adam literally, right after they closed, ran over to the pub and the first thing he said to us was, “Yukon Blonde”, and we were all like, “That’s awesome.” We didn’t ask the story, but that’s what it is.  We were just like, “That’s a cool name.”

Dylan: Sweet! Hence, the name-change.

Jeff: Yeah, so we ditched the lists and changed the name.

Dylan: I haven’t personally heard any Alphababy material, but in terms of the sound, Yukon Blonde kind of has its—you know, throughout your album you have some different kind of stylings and sounds, but all in one it’s a Yukon Blonde sound.  From your Alphababy stuff, was there a huge “re-tooling” of the way you guys wanted to do your sound?

Jeff: Well, yeah.  A couple Alphababy songs did, sort of, make the cut over to Yukon Blonde land.  Two of them were Tapes Forever Be Tapes on the EP [Everything In Everyway] and Streets. Much before we changed the name, right before we were done the tour with Jon-Rae Fletcher, we almost broke up and were in a really bad spot and Graham [drummer] and I kept getting asked to do shows as Alphababy.  We got asked to open for You Say Party! We Say Die! We said no, as Alphababy, but then we kind of made it up on the spot, “We have a band, Graham and I have a band! It’s called Brides!”  They said, “Sweet!” So Graham and I went home and were like, “So we’re playing this show now… we gotta get some music together!”  In a week, we got our good friend Noel from Vancouver and we busted and made a whole set in a week.

Dylan: Wow!

Jeff: And Alphababy was pretty much done at the time, like we were not happy with each other.  So then Graham and I ended up doing this Brides thing for a while.   Graham and I were so stoked on this rock ‘n’ roll kind of sound that we started writing music more towards that.  Eventually, Brides completely disappeared and we stole Brides Song from Brides.

Dylan: Oh ok, gotcha.  Hence the name Brides Song.

Jeff: Yea, so all the Yukon Blonde songs too, were written in a month because all the Alphababy stuff had been written over 3 years.  We were like, “Let’s write an album in a month!” So we just buckled down, like we’re doing now.  It’s the best way to do it!  You just, sit there in a house and just kind of go crazy with each other and make a record.

Dylan: I guess there’s no other way.  (laughs)  Well, if it works, right?

Jeff: Yeah!

Dylan: Moving on to your current album, self-titled.  Any reason why you guys decided to go self-titled?

Jeff: Couldn’t think of a name.  And actually, I’m kind of always romanced by the first band who has released their self-titled album, it’s kind of just like…”Here we are!”

Dylan: “Here we are! We don’t need a title!”

Jeff: Yeah, but also because we couldn’t think of anything.  This next record, we were thinking of calling it a self-titled album (laughs).  Like, all our albums will be self-titled forever.

Dylan: Not gonna do the Van Halen I, II…

Jeff: No, or the Led Zeppelin I, II… No, there’s a lot of bands who have done that.  We were thinking just self-titled ‘til the end of time (laughs).

Dylan:  One thing I also noticed is a song like 1000 Years, as well as Rather Be With You, they kind of have a little bit more of a classic rock kind of feel to them; whereas, songs like Trivial Fires and Ghosts On Film seem to have, at least in my opinion, more current sort of sound, if you will.  I hate to “genre” and “categorize”, but..

Jeff:  No, that’s what you guys do! (laughs)

Dylan:  I’m just curious as to where your musical influences stem from, or why one song was inspiring you a little more from a different “era”..

Jeff: First of all, I think you pretty much nailed the pairings, for sure.  I was so into David Bowie when we were writing the record, I was really into Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust.  Bowie likes to make albums in 3’s, and sometimes songs in 3’s and I sort of picked up on it when we first started writing the record.  Songs like Blood Cops, Kumiko Song and Babies [Don’t Like Blue Anymore] were all written together and all they all have that “sound”.  Also, Rather Be With You and 1000 Years were written together. It was kind of like a pairing of getting into a vibe. When I write music I get into a vibe, something kind of sparks my interest, whatever will inspire me.  Sometimes it was Bowie, sometimes it was T-Rex, sometimes it was the Stones, and sometimes it was Dr. Dog.  I kind of get into sounds, get into chord structures, into a style of writing and melodies.  So, usually I don’t just write one song, so I tried to go with the Bowie thing and tried to write 3’s of these songs.  I’m sure those ones like Rather Be With You and 1000 years have their counterpart, but they’re lost on my computer.  It’s definitely a good way to do things.  Like, write as much as you can in a certain vibe and chase it down! Get it as far as you can, get really into that.  Then when it’s done, when you don’t feel it anymore, move on.

Dylan: One other thing that really caught my ear was the vocal harmonies.

Jeff: Oh yea!

Dylan:  Which are predominant.  And in a good way!

Jeff: We’re huge Crosby, Stills & Nash fans and big Neil Young fans.  And although those weren’t direct influences on why we wanted to do harmonies, they were definitely a launch-pad for how we wanted our harmonies to be.  We tried to get them tight.  They always had a lot of really weird harmonies and they were always really tight, and the way we recorded them was kind of like how Crosby, Stills & Nash recorded their harmonies.  They doubled and triple-tracked, sometimes, each voice, so they’d just come at you.  We also didn’t have a P.A. in our practice space, nor do we now, nor have we ever, which is kind of weird for being such a vocal-oriented band.  If we’re practicing on a regular basis, say 3 times a week, the fourth practice will be just acoustics.  We’ll sit down and just do harmonies, over and over and over..

Dylan:  Just you, Brandon and Graham?

Jeff: Yea. Well, the whole band – if Andy, who was touring with us, who plays in Red Cedar – he was doing the fourth harmony, so when we toured we had four harmonies.

Dylan: That’s pretty intense. (laughs)

Jeff: We finally, this week, got a P.A. and we are even more harmony driven than we’ve ever been.

Dylan: Right on.  I was going to ask you about your brief song-writing stint out in Comox over the last week, and how that went?

Jeff: Well, we arranged 7 songs in a week.  It went really well. I think we are definitely on to evolving whatever sound we have, you know?  I feel like this is a lot more comprehensive a sound than I felt for our last record.  So, it seems kind of all over the map a little bit right now, but it all has the same “feel”.  It’s all very together.

Dylan: As every song kind of, even though every song is different, it all sounds like an album.

Jeff:  Yes it will definitely sound like an album.

Dylan: It’s good to see the enthusiasm, I like it!  So then, that leads to the next question:  can we anticipate hearing something possibly new in 2011 from Yukon Blonde?

Jeff: Let’s just put it this way:  I’d like to see us release at least a couple songs in 2011, and I think it’s possible.

Dylan:  Ok, alright.  We won’t hold you to it! (laughs)

Jeff: I think that’s as far as I can go with that.

Dylan:  That’s as much as you can say.  That’s cool.  Well, that’s about all I’ve got for you tonight so thank you for being a participant!

Jeff:  Cool, thanks for having me!

Dylan: It’s much appreciated!

I want to again thank Jeff for being a very patient and kind participant in what was my first interview experience!  Jeff was very easy going and down-to-earth, and gave some fantastically detailed answers.  If you don’t already, pick up Yukon Blonde’s self-titled debut album! You won’t be disappointed.

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~ by whet_hopped on February 18, 2011.

2 Responses to “Interview Series: Jeff Innes of Yukon Blonde”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Scott Graham, Dylan Redekop. Dylan Redekop said: Interview Series: Jeff Innes of Yukon Blonde http://wp.me/pVPsC-6D […]

  2. […] free (and write about them). I have had the opportunity to meet and interview some amazing people (Jeff Innes of Yukon Blonde, Hannah Georgas, Steven Page, Plants & Animals), and I’ve made many friends in the music […]

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