James Younger and Jeffrey Innes were fresh from a 24-hour drive from Los Angeles, but did’t appear to be any worse for wear when they arrived for their sound check at the Block Party stage. The two were on an American tour, which included the notorious South by South West (SXSW) festival, with their band Yukon Blonde.
“South by Southwest was great,” said Innes. “There were may too many big headliners [the past couple of years], too many people ... but this year it was great.”
The band toured with Lieutenant, a band made up of stadium regulars fronted by Nate Mendel of the Foo Fighters. “They’re very nice people. It’s not every tour that you get to bond with a band like we did with that band,” said Innes.
For Yukon Blonde, touring with such big names was both intimidating and inspirational. “It was reassuring to see people who have achieved that level of notoriety and success and still want to play clubs,” said Younger.
Yukon Blonde has a new album, set to be released this summer, the first single from the album, Saturday Night was recently released and its electro-pop slant marks a distinct departure from their analogue rock roots. Their forthcoming album was mixed by legendary producer Tony Hoffer who has worked with Beck and Depeche Mode, among many others. Working with Hoffer pushed the band to reach beyond their tried and true sound.
“[The changing sound] was intentional, on our part,” said Younger.
“It’s easily the best thing we’ve ever done,” said Innes. “I’m stoked, I love what we did.”
The writing process for their new album, which took place in a house the band shared, allowed the band much needed creative freedom. Yukon Blonde’s last album Tiger Talk came out in 2012 and the group wanted to allow themselves the extra time and space to make something fresh, something that they were truly proud of.
The band took their time creating their new album, taking risks and exploring new techniques. “Sonically, we were allowed to explore new things,” said Younger. “We’re all songwriters, there’s a lot of trust amongst us so we kind of all just nerded out in our respective interests.”
It seems that the band has hit a new level of creative maturity with this record. “[We are] a little more comfortable in out own skin,” said Younger. “[There’s] not as much fear that you are doing something wrong.”
“The most rewarding thing I’ve ever done is make this record,” said Innes. “And we didn’t really compromise ... we took things as far as we could take them.” Though Yukon Blonde seems to be on the rise to the upper echelons of rock stardom, the band finds it easy to stay humble and hardworking. Now that Block Party is over, the band plans to do some much needed vacationing until the summer festivals come into full swing and their album is released.
Finally, Innes and Younger offered advice: “We were on a tour with somebody once and they said ... imagine the person that you ... imagine the, sort of, coolest person you could be, like the best thing you could possibly do in your life ... accomplishing the best possible thing that you can, well, that’s who you are. You just have to do that.... We put up all these road blocks and restrictions, and these walls around us because we’re afraid,” said Innes.
“No one gives a shit is an important thing to remember,” said Younger. “And your biggest fan will be stoked if you get weird because [they like] all the weirdest things about you.... Afford yourself the luxury of exploring your ideas ... but make sure you’re around people who are supportive and accommodating of that.”