In one incarnation or another, Yukon Blonde (formerly known as Alphababy) has been around since 2005, and in those seven years, the Canadian band has released a handful of EPs and two LPs, including this year’s Tiger Talk. The band is currently on a three-month tour, which is nothing new for the indie rock outfit that has spent nearly 200 days on the road this year. Despite the stress of preparing for a long jaunt of live shows, vocalist/guitarist Jeff Innes was kind enough to chat with me about the band’s name change, crazy tour stories, and what Yukon Blonde is planning for its third full-length release.
Katrina Nattress: When you formed in 2005, your band’s name was Alphababy. What made you decide to change it to Yukon Blonde a few years later?
Jeffrey Innes: At that time we had two members who had left the band. We'd just crashed our van on a previous tour, making touring impossible. We were basically forced to take time off and began writing new material that was clearly different from what we were making as Alphababy. In the end we decided to start over and change the name and regroup.
KN: Did you feel like changing your name caused any setbacks for the band?
JI: At first we were skeptical of changing it, worried that we'd lose the fans we had gained touring as Alphababy. The change came easy and gave us a fresh start as a group.
KN: You guys are gearing up to hit the road in October for a three-month long tour. How do you usually prep for long stretches on the road?
JI: I feel like we are constantly on tour. We don't have homes and our suitcases are always packed. The main preparation for the upcoming tours has been finding and training our friends on bass. We've always had ringer bass players since we recorded our first record, keeps things fresh.
KN: You guys seem to always be on the road. How many live dates have you played so far this year?
JI: We must be getting close to 190? Maybe more.
KN: How does touring so much affect your personal life?
JI: It keeps things interesting to say the least. We all have serious relationships and finding the balance to make that work can be tough at times. Luckily, we all have amazingly patient and supporting women in our lives.
KN: Do you feel like a band must constantly tour in order to make it in this day and age?
JI: I believe touring is a very important aspect to being a band. We've always believed that touring is the best way to get your music out there, and playing live is what we enjoy the most. That being said, people these days can make careers from a well placement advertisement or YouTube vid, it just depends.
KN: What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you guys on tour?
JI: Jeff was late getting on our Australian flight, missed it, and somehow caught a flight the next morning and made the show that night! I have never been so stressed.
KN: You released Tiger Talk in March. How do you like playing those songs live?
JI: Tiger Talk is meant to be a fun, energetic record to play live. We had a festival mentality when creating the songs. Playing these songs live and watching people sing along and dance makes it all worth it for us.
KN: How do you find time to work on new material when you spend so much time on the road?
JI: It makes it extremely difficult. Whenever we get the odd days off Jeff will demo songs. Sound checks have become our new rehearsal space. We completed a few songs that way on previous tours.
KN: This album seems a bit more poppy/produced than its predecessors. How was the writing/recording process different for this release?
JI: We wanted a hi-fi sound for this record. The last record was recorded live off the floor to tape, Tiger Talk was digital with a track-by-track process. We wanted to take our time getting sounds perfected, where as recording live you have to live with those takes.
KN: Do you hope to continue on this direction for your next release?
JI: Our next release is a total mystery. We plan to take 3 months off after Christmas to buckle down and see what we come up. I hope to make a retreat record and get away for a while!
Check out a full list of Yukon Blonde’s tour dates here.