Yukon Blonde Discuss the Synth-Laden Sounds of 'On Blonde'
Published Jun 17, 2015Since their self-titled full-length's debut in the winter of 2010, Kelowna, BC-bred indie rock outfit Yukon Blonde have rarely had a moment to slow down. That's why the band took a break in 2013 to focus on other efforts: lead-guitarist Brandon Wolfe Scott started a roots-oriented solo project; drummer Graham Jones went to work on Brendan Canning's You Gots 2 Chill and tour in support of it; and frontman Jeffrey Innes, having previously booked studio time with Colin Stewart to work on the next Yukon Blonde LP, decide to make the most of his time away from the band and record his own solo album.
Super Class, the debut from Innes under his High Ends moniker, was the farthest thing from a Yukon Blonde record at that time, with every inch of the pastiche-like LP crammed with drum machines, strange vocals and, perhaps most importantly, vintage synths. But as Innes tells Exclaim! while taking a breather in Vancouver before Yukon Blonde's extensive upcoming North American summer tour, it was that time away from each other that fully solidified in the band's mind what the sound of a new Yukon Blonde LP could be.
"When we got together to make a new record we decided to ditch most of the ideas we had before," he laughs. "We had all been a part of records we were really stoked on, and to go back to this old stuff after we'd all personally discovered these new outlets of making music, it seemed redundant."
On Blonde, the band's newly released third full-length, finds the road-hardened quartet (a five-piece live) at their most ambitious, with the band all but doing away with the carefree and easygoing vibes of their past two LPs to create a more swagger-y, synth-laden album that sounds as much at home on the dance floor (lead single and party anthem "Saturday Night") as it does a John Hughes fan's record collection (the crystalline and anthemic-sounding "Como").
Its sound seems derived from a time not too long ago, one where Tears for Fears and Flock of Seagulls shared ample space on record store racks. For Innes, a large part of that has to do with the abundance of keyboards on the record.
"I kind of went on a rampage the past few years buying and hoarding synths like there's no tomorrow," he says, adding that he's roommates with Black Mountain member and synth enthusiast Jeremy Schmidt, a.k.a. Sinoia Caves. ("We kind of just nerd out all the time and borrow each other's gear.")
Still, it's important to note that this isn't the first album from the previously guitar-heavy band to utilize synthesized instrumentation — it's just the first one where they've made the most of it.
"We've always had a lot of synths in our music, but we always kind of just turned them down to pad things out," he says. "With this record, kind of like the less-is-more philosophy was enforced big here."
Armed with an "embarrassing" amount of time at Colin Stewart's the Hive Creative Labs, the band spent every spare moment they could refining and enhancing every synthesized sound found on the album.
"Any sound that had a particular or unique quality, we tried to push it until it had that cool aspect, and then not layer it with a tonne of stuff," Innes says. "I think the end result is all of these things come together to make a full picture, and it sounds a lot better and brighter and more interesting than anything else we've done."
On Blonde is out now via Dine Alone Records, and you can check out Yukon Blonde's busy tour schedule at their website.