There are good band names and then there are ridiculous ones. Yukon Blonde, now in the midst of a cross-Canada tour, know the importance of a good name. Instead of their current, hipper name, the Kelowna musicians used to go by the less-than-stellar Alpha-baby.
Alpha-baby was born from jam sessions between guitarist Jeff Innes and drummer Graham Jones in 2005. The pair quickly joined forces with guitarist Brandon Scott, spreading out the duty of vocals between the three of them.
“We really liked Brandon’s guitar playing,” Innes said. “And we thought he looked cool, so we asked him to start a band with us.”
The threesome expanded, forming a group of five. After losing one band member during the Alpha-baby days, Yukon Blonde is now missing bass player Adam Newton, who left the group since the release of their newest album early this month. Newton moved to Vancouver, a lengthy trek from Kelowna, and was “tired of being broke,” joked Innes.
The name Alpha-baby wasn’t exactly a favourite name candidate, but the band stuck with it for three years. There was always something a little off with the band name. Alpha-baby did well enough, releasing two EPs, putting on 300 hundred shows across the country and signing with Nevado Records in 2008. But the band members weren’t in love with their name, and while on tour in 2008 the band finally decided to make the change.
“Eventually we just got tired of the name, and we went on tour with our friend Jon-Rae [Fletcher] of Jon-Rae and the River, and he agreed with us that our name sucked,” Innes said. Fletcher told them to cut their losses, and loyal fans would follow them through the name change.
Later on during that tour the Alpha-baby van crashed. It signified the end of the Alpha-baby name and the start of Yukon Blonde. The band already had everything written for their second album under Alpha-baby but they scrapped it, deciding to take a different direction with their music. Following this new direction, the band signed a new record deal with Bumstead Records.
Shortly after the name change they wrote their first EP, Everything In Everyway, which was released in December 2009. This February, they released their first full-length, self-titled album. Now, they’re road-tripping across Canada in support of their debut and they can see first-hand how the new name is upping their popularity. Even with less organized shows, Yukon Blonde is attracting more fans than Alpha-baby ever did.
Yukon Blonde is becoming familiar with cities in almost every province and the cities are getting to know them too. They’ve had some of their best shows in Fredericton, Montreal and Toronto. But even the little towns create good memories, like Lloydminster, AB., about two and a half hours outside Edmonton.
“We got out of our van to get some chips or whatever at the gas station and there was a giant truck that drove by and yelled “fuckin’ hippies!’ like three times to make sure we heard them,” Innes said, laughing.
Innes is a big fan of vinyl, and their recent album was recorded entirely live to tape, because, as Innes said, “Why record an album digitally, if it’s just going to go to vinyl anyways?”
After their current tour of Canada, Innes and his bandmates, now just Brandon Scott and Graham Jones, hope to produce a few more albums, continue touring and, like many musicians, quit their day jobs.