Get your Yukon

Yukon Blonde, Kelowna-born Vancouver indie rockers, will begin their latest tour at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver on Feb. 18 — one year since the release of their first, self-titled, album. Jeffrey Innes, Graham Jones and Brandon Scott, who formerly performed under the name Alphababy, are playing Winnipeg’s Pyramid Cabaret on Feb. 26.

Yukon Blonde has been described as “clean cut Americana for the kids” — a reference to the modernity of their sound and not any lack of gravity about it. The 10-song debut (a debut under the band’s current name, at least) is a collection firmly rooted in tradition. Such hook-driven fare was likely a welcome change for Innes, who had been working with esoteric electronic music.

Reviewers have found evidence of influences from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to Sloan; from the Beatles to the Waxwings. It’s easy to believe this when one looks at the band’s image; their beards, unkempt hair, cloth cap and poncho vividly recall the ’70s.

The tour bringing Yukon Blonde here also marks something of a midpoint between albums for the band, who have been working on material for a new album recently. There is no official release date for the new album, but Innes, who does vocals and guitar for the band, said they plan to incorporate some new material into the upcoming tour. “Everything’s going well,” he said over the phone to the Manitoban. “We’ll probably have some new songs on the tour.”
As part of the writing process, the band have holed themselves up in drummer Graham Jones’s family house. “We’re doing a writing retreat now at our drummer’s parents’ house,” said Innes. “They’re in Mexico for two weeks.”

Earlier in the year, according to Innes, the group worked in similar circumstances at a cabin in Comox, B.C.. The band uses these retreats to put together songs written on tour and to write new ones. As Innes explained, “It’s just been writing, writing, writing, demoing, recording.”

While Innes was reluctant to divulge much about Yukon Blonde’s next album, he did mention that they booked recording time in May. He also paraphrased Radiohead’s Thom Yorke to illustrate the relationship between Yukon Blonde’s first album and its next, saying that he wanted the latter to be more like being inside a forest fire and the former more like watching it. He was, however, quick to clarify that he was not comparing Yukon Blonde to Radiohead.

The group will be touring with Canadian indie institution Plants and Animals, with whom they have a little experience. “We played with them once at a festival called River and Sky, near Sudbury,” said Innes, “and it was so awesome. It was the coolest little festival.”

But Innes and the band have had their eye on Plants and Animals since before then, as he explained. “We’ve been wanting to tour with them for quite some time.” he said. “We put in a bid, as it were, for them last year at some point, and they ended up taking our friends Said the Whale. Then — hopefully — when we played with them at River and Sky, they liked our band and they decided to take us now.”

Innes said that he would like to think that Yukon Blonde shares Plants and Animals’ refusal to restrict itself to one genre. Indeed, wrote that the music on their first album “is chock full of obvious influences and tributes, and to name them all would ultimately still leave readers with vague ideas of what they sound like.”

There’s only one way to find out.

Yukon Blonde plays the Pyramid Cabaret on Feb. 26., 2011.