It's hard to imagine a more difficult crossroad for a band: two members quit, and the remaining members can either pack it in, carry on or totally re-invent themselves. For Vancouver's Yukon Blonde, the risk of changing direction (and the group's name) seemed like the best chance at a second life.
Guitarists Jeff Innes and Brandon Scott and drummer Graham Jones had pushed the limits of success with their former band Alphababy, and once they emerged from "a really weird patch," as Innes recalls, they felt totally rejuvenated from a reinvention.
"Graham and I started another band we called Brides," he explains. "So I wrote a bunch of songs and it was a totally different sound. We played one show with Brides, and then eventually it became the model for what we wanted [Yukon Blonde] to sound like."
The sound is an addictive, confident and catchy pop frenzy, enveloping melodic influences from the best of what pop rock has had to offer from the '60s onward. The remaining three then hunkered down in Kelowna for a year and a half to start work on what would eventually become 2008's EP Everything in Everyway and a self-titled debut released earlier this year.
"We rented a rehearsal space in the middle of winter and demoed stuff all day," Innes recalls. "That's pretty much how the writing process works: I'll bring in a skeletal song and we'll work it and re-work it and re-work it until we're happy with it."
Recorded with Shawn Cole (Bend Sinister, You Say Party! We Say Die!), Yukon Blonde was able to capture a clear, confident vision that's worked out in spades for the dedicated three-piece: appearances this year at SXSW, voted best band at this year's Canadian Music Week, accolades from CBC as one of the 10 top bands to watch and, most recently, a nomination for best rock album by this year's Western Canadian Music Awards. Not bad for a band that only two years ago scrapped the blueprints and started over.
"We started as a three piece, so we were fully prepared to keep going, just change the name, change the songs and go from there," Innes laughs. "[The response] has been really good. We were worried that once the album came out [the Alphababy fans] wouldn't really like it because we had this new sound. But it's been so great. Everybody I talk to seems to think we're going in the right direction." V
Sat, Oct 2 (9 pm)
With the Wooden Sky
Starlite Room, $13