A patchy, sparse crowd leaned on posts, lounged on plastic chairs and swayed silently in Il Motore’s roomy venue space Thursday night while some talented out-of-towners paid a visit to Little Italy. Toronto’s The Paint Movement played some charming saxophone-laden indie tunes before the main act, Kelowna, B.C.’s rock ‘n’ role quartet Yukon Blonde, took the stage.
The modest welcome that Montreal paid to the band at the beginning of their set culminated in a more enthusiastic farewell, when cheers coaxed the group back on to the stage for a one-song encore.
Yukon Blonde is making their way across the country, yet again, for a tour that will stretch to the end of March. Having played a string of shows with Montreal’s Plants and Animals in late February, the members of Yukon Blonde are currently homeless, drifting here and there while teaming up with different Canadian bands, like Toronto’s The Wooden Sky, along the way. But a permanent address is not the only thing the band is lacking at the moment. They have also yet to commit to a bass player, since Adam Newton, one of the band’s four founding members, left the group after their European tour in 2009.
“We’re dating bass players – and it’s working!” exclaimed lead guitarist and vocalist Jeffrey Innes jokingly. “Nobody notices at all, it’s the weirdest thing.” However, Innes hinted that Yukon Blonde may be getting serious with John Jefferey, the bassist who is joining them on their current tour.
Yukon Blonde has been around – albeit in different forms – since 2005.
Originally called Alphababy, the band decided, after various internal differences and a brief extra-bandular affair that went by the name of Brides, that “we need[ed] to ditch all the songs, ditch the name, and start over.” And so Yukon Blonde was born – or rather, reinvented.
During the interim period when Alphababy was laying low and Yukon Blonde was yet-to-be, Innes was asked to open for You Say Party! and, instead of admitting to having no current projects on the go, gave the off-the-cuff band name Brides to the venue’s promoter.
“[I said to drummer] Graham [Jones], we’re playing a show in a week and a half. We have to write a fucking set,” said Innes. “So we played that show, and we played another show with Apostle of Hustle two weeks after that, and then Brides was done.”
Although the fling with Brides was short-lived, the group had managed to write almost a full album’s worth of songs. These new tunes, as it turned out, became the catalyst for Yukon Blonde’s sound.
“It’s almost like cheating on your girlfriend, and then going back to her and being like, ‘OK, we’re going to do it the way that I was doing it with this girl that I was cheating on you with,’ ” Innes said, further developing the band-as-romantic-relationship analogy. “We’d come up with this really cool rock ‘n’ roll sound,” he continued. “Alphababy[‘s music] was kind of dark, [and] I played piano and synthesizers. Immediately after Brides [dissipated], I picked up a guitar and ditched the piano.”
Having released a four-song EP, Everything in Everyway, and a self-titled LP thus far, the band has been writing plenty of new material, but cannot yet reveal any plans for a new album. “It’s going to happen,” Innes hinted. “We want to do something fun,” adding that the new songs will see the group going in a bit of a new musical direction.
“It’s just a growth,” he said. “The way that I’ve been writing for the past year or so is: if I get the urge to do something, musically, I’m going to fucking do it.”