Jeff Innes

JUNO pending, Kelowna’s Yukon Blonde explore their darker side

Vancouverite fodder? Yukon Blonde's songwriter says he still spent the winter playing video games in his parents' basement in Peachland

  • Apr. 2, 2013 2:00 p.m.

Are they really still from Kelowna? Well, the Yukon Blonde band members seem to see it that way and, as evidence, they’re making this city one of their last stops before JUNO week, where they just might pick up their inaugural award.

Tapped in the Breakthrough Group of the Year category, and generally labelled Vancouverite fodder, lead singer and songwriter Jeff Innes figures their roar is big enough to claim Kelowna as a hometown crowd, even from 350 kilometres away. Their last album, after all, is called Tiger Talk and they’re currently of no fixed address.

“We gave up our places in Vancouver because we’ve been touring constantly, so we didn’t really need a house,” said Innes.

The release of Tiger Talk, on March 20 of last year, prompted a year and a half of touring, apparently culminating in a marathon winter of video games with his brother in their parents’ Peachland home.

The band is now making a serious play for the Canadian music scene’s inner circle with the JUNO nomination for next month’s awards. and Innes used his time in the Okanagan to start crafting their next foray in that scene.

Their current record is a record for fans and certainly material that struck a chord with a generation of happy-go-lucky music fans.

“We just wanted to make a record you could dance to that really feels good live,” he explained.

The next one will be something entirely different, though, a record the band members want to throw on and listen to again and again, perhaps a little darker, more complex.

The real decision-making on the material will have to play out at a later date. As anyone who has ever enjoyed a long sojourn with video games in the parents’ basement knows, productivity does tend to lapse as time moves forward and Innes freely admits the groove he got into wasn’t exactly a musical one.

In the meantime, he’s contemplating the upcoming JUNO parties, hammering through a Western Canadian tour, and coming to terms with what it will be like to compete against good friends.

Case in point, Hey Ocean! are nominated in the same category as Yukon Blonde. Then again, so is Walk off the Earth, a crew they’ve never met, and he admits there has been a little time dedicated to scoping out the competition of late.

Walk off the Earth does seem to be a breakthrough group that came out of nowhere in 2012. The band followed Glass Tiger at Rock the Peach in Penticton last year and blew the audience out of the water, though they garnered very little press attention in the lead up to the event.

They must have been doing the same across the country for Walk off the Earth currently has 696,704 likes on their Facebook Page. Yukon Blonde has 10,512.

As for Hey Ocean!, Innes knows they’re also one band capable of blowing audiences out of the water, or at least entertaining them in it.

As anyone who attended Kelowna’s Keloha Festival might have seen, Hey Ocean! filled Tugboat Bay with swimming and wading concert-goers thrilled by trills of their flautist.

The outdoor festival crowds are where it’s at for Yukon Blonde as well, Innes said.

He figures 500,000 is the band’s optimum crowd size, but admits there’s something to playing a really unique intimate room on occasion.

“I’d really like to start playing hot places. So far, we are always touring areas where it’s cold…So I’d like to have the option. Maybe Madrid,” he said, when asked where he’s like to see the tour schedule head.

Whether that eventually means a spot in the Sasquatch lineup or at the Coachella Festival remains to be seen, but they will be playing their favourite 19-year-old birthday hot spot when they return home, pre-JUNOs this April.

Yukon Blonde plays Flashbacks on April 11with special guest Zeus. Tickets are $17.95, available through Wet Ape Productions.

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