Jeff Innes, front man of Vancouver’s indie darlings Yukon Blonde, is in jail. Not real jail, but as he puts it, “songwriter jail.” He’s holed up in a house somewhere in the Gulf Islands, determined to start writing for the band’s fourth album without any distractions of city life. Looking at Yukon Blonde’s touring schedule for the past six months, it’s no wonder he needed a change of pace. On the phone with Jeff, he took me through everything the band has been up to since the June release of their third album On Blonde. We talked about touring, songwriting, and he told me a little bit about what Yukon Blonde has in store for us in the coming months.
MUSE: This has been a crazy past few months for you guys. Since the release of On Blonde in June, you’ve toured the record across the US and Europe, and you’re just about to kick off a cross-Canada tour. How do you stay sane throughout all that?
Jeff: Well, we don’t really [laughs]. I mean for awhile a couple of us were into sort of like meditation stuff, and a couple of us go to yoga as often as we can, and a big part of touring and spending months and months on the road is that you tend to not take care of yourself really. And so I try as often as I can to get up early and kind of walk around cities, go record shopping, take pictures, you know, do stuff before the day begins.
MUSE: So On Blonde is your third album, and arguably your best and most cohesive one yet. Where did you draw your inspiration from for the songs on the album?
Jeff: Well, I broke up with my girlfriend and I was sort of girl crazy for like a month, so it’s weird because it’s like a breakup record, but I think that some of the songs are sort of fictitious, and then some of it is post-breakup. You know, just the total drama of single life and kind of trying to adjust to that. And then there’s a couple songs that are about me being a kid, hanging out with the wrong people.
MUSE: Sonically, On Blonde is pretty distinctly different from your last album, Tiger Talk. Have you given any thought to which musical direction you want to take the next record?
Jeff: I’m actually working on the fourth record literally right now. It’s kind of funny because for me, On Blonde was the first album that I’m really entirely proud of. And it takes a band years and years to totally find their sound, so if we’re just starting to really hit our stride then that’s awesome. Plus I think I’m sort of changing my mind on how I think records should be recorded.
MUSE: In what way?
Jeff: I’ve been listening to a bunch of artists from a lot of genres and I’ve noticed that a lot of artists are releasing either EPs or just kind of releasing a few songs at a time as they get recorded and I think we’re looking at doing something like that, as opposed to the traditional 14-song LP release every few years. Not that we’re not gonna release a record- we’ll definitely have enough songs to do that- but I think we’re gonna release some stuff along the way as well.
MUSE: Well it’ll be really interesting to see where you guys take this concept! In the down time between touring for Tiger Talk and writing for On Blonde, you started a solo project called High Ends. What was your experience like doing the whole solo project thing?
Jeff: It costs so much friggin money! I thought it was really cool and fun, but it was also really scary when you’ve had this sort of support of your peers and your friends for ten years, so to venture out on your own is definitely pretty scary. To try and prove yourself to all the people that you work with was super intimidating, I pitched it to the label and they liked it, so I was lucky to have that backing as well. I just remember it getting released and Pitchfork putting up a track and it sort of starting to gain a bit of momentum and it just felt so good like, “Someone likes it! Someone somewhere likes it!” [laughs]
MUSE: Are there any Canadian bands/artists that you’re particularly excited about right now?
Jeff: Yeah actually, I love Brave Shores, uh Dilly Dally is pretty good too, I really like them. Oh you know what? The new Young Rivals record is amazing. They’re one of my favourite bands in Canada, we talked those guys into touring with us a couple times and their new record is just killer.
MUSE: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me Jeff, it’s been wonderful getting to chat with you. See you in Kingston on the 24th!
Jeff: Lookin’ forward to it!
Yukon Blonde plays at Ale House on February 24th. Tickets are available here.
Paige Guscott, Online Reviewer
Image: Courtesy of Dine Alone Records