JANUARY 25, 2024
COMMODORE BALLROOM – VANCOUVER, BC
TICKETS ON SALE NOVEMBER 3 at 10 AM
“I long to be a part of something, a community, but I can never get my shit together and that’s where people give up on me – but then again that’s where the guys come in,” says Jeffrey Innes, lead singer and chief sonic architect of indie rock band Yukon Blonde. And though they might not have recognized it when they first started packing clubs over 15 years ago, the band has since embraced this reality; in fact, it’s overtly celebrated across the alluring melodies and absorbing stories comprising Shuggie, their latest full length collection.
“There’s a real openness to this record both musically and lyrically – sort of wide reaching exploration of trying to find that something out of of all this isolation,” says Jeff on behalf of bandmates Brandon Scott (guitar, vocals), Graham Jones (drums, vocals), and James Younger (bass, vocals)
“Being in a band for this long, we’re talking our entire adult lives here, I’m not sure it’s a healthy thing,” says Younger. “Out on the road you miss births, funerals, birthdays, and back home over time even the strongest relationships come and go. This is all happening in our van somewhere on The Canadian Shield and all four of us have been through it.” This sense of self imposed exile undoubtedly contributes to the uniquely expansive and ever changing sonic spectrum Yukon Blonde has refined over their years. You can (and should) call them many things, but never predictable or complacent. From the bouncy indie rock that defined their first half decade together – culminating in 2012’s Tiger Talk – through their experimentation with slick 80s inspired pop elements on 2015’s On Blonde to the seductive synth heavy psychedelic mood making of 2018’s Critical Hit – the bands back catalogue is incredibly diverse.
“We’re a pop band, so everything first is rooted in that,” Innes offers, “but when you’ve been together as long as we have, and been through as much as we have as friends, you have to find ways to protect yourselves and push forward together.”
Very much continuing that trend with, “the favourite of our albums,” 2020’s Vindicator, Yukon Blonde embraced a new workflow – one that found them taking full ownership of the record-making process from writing to recording, from production to mixing.
With Shuggie, they’re bountifully building atop that foundation, further distilling Vindicator’s fruitful approach with a sharper focus on their compositional prowess. Innes maintains his title of “primary
songwriter,” but notes, “Everyone really upped their contributions this time out, it’s like the more we go through, the more we’re driven to get together and create things.” After all, “community” and “insular” needn’t be mutually exclusive.
Hypnotic and hyper-compelling, Shuggie takes Yukon Blonde’s mastery of pop music in its many forms and anchors it in psychedelic synths, wiry guitar licks and bass lines, and of course, a chorus of inviting voices. But has this musical solipsism – the creative itch to change their sound been damaging to their career? “You see a lot of bands – even bands I adore – become pastiches of themselves, thinking they have to lean into the sound that’s given them a taste of success,” shares Younger. “I don’t think that’s ever worked for us – for better or worse we take more of a burn it down approach.”
And in an age where part-time musicians become full-time influencers; incentivized into playing out their traumas and carefully curated identities online – Yukon Blonde find themselves on the outside looking in.
“There’s something deeply insidious about all of that, and for us it is quite the opposite,” says Innes, I think you may have to be really unwell to join a touring band and make music like ours – it can’t be about money, or even for the love of music, it has to be something far more unhealthy – some deep desire to precisely not deal with all that dark stuff and instead get in a Van and drive far far away from it.”
“I’m sure it’s possible to conceive of a way to make it appear the music we make is a response to our own personal struggles and whatever,” adds Younger, “but if it’s informed by it, it certainly doesn’t deal with it, if anything it’s pure escapism – and as for the darkest times, we were always together for them – so those stories will have remain on the cutting room floor, or for us, in the tour van.”
Indeed in their now-signature form Shuggie marks the next stage in Yukon Blonde’s evolution and while their sonic aesthetic is ever changing, some things stay the same, namely the achievements and accolades that follow each new release and the notoriously vivacious live shows that support them.
Fortunately for us, Yukon Blonde clearly have not given up on themselves.