Yukon Blonde is a publicist’s wet dream.
The band is a combination of almost every successful rock star stereotype, but the group of BC boys asserts they were not assembled from some label-backed headhunter.
Most started out as a Kelowna “party-rock” band, touring house parties and other small acts, said lead guitarist Brandon Scott in a rare moment of sincerity.
Scott is the group’s comedian. The quirky, nerd-chic type who can pretty much get away with anything if for no other reason than what he can do when a guitar is put in his hands.
Bassist John Jeffrey – the pensive, passionate and painfully handsome type – joined the group five years after their modest start.
Jeff Innes, the lead singer could be the love child of Mick Jagger and Joni Mitchell. He closes his eyes and presses up on his tippy toes as he sings, eventually lifting one of his feet like the ground is just too hot to stand on. He’s scrawny with a strange attractiveness, but he can sing.
They can all sing – or at least scream out in near perfect pitch.
That’s one of the unique qualities of the young group: they harmonize like choir boys on top of the soft riffs and thick rhythms that make up their music.
It is what gets them compared to Crosby, Stills and Young on a regular basis and, along with the general atmosphere and sound of their tunes, it’s what makes their albums almost interchangeable with those of the Fleet Foxes.
And apart from the good music, any publicist couldn’t help but get worked up about all that hair.
Every single bandmate has hair past their ear lobes, except Scott who makes up with it in curls.
“Everyone asks us about the hair,” said Jeffrey.
“I don’t even wash it,” said Innes.
“I haven’t had a hair cut in a year,” said Scott, grinning.
“I used to cut my own hair all the time,” added Innes. “Who can afford a haircut?”
“My secret is just keep your head down and party on, man,” said Scott.
But hair could actually be the key to one of the band’s best kept secrets: how they got their name.
After playing the Dawson City Music Festival this year – during their first-ever trip to the territory – the group had a lot of explaining to do.
“We’re at our namesake,” said Innes sitting on the backstage steps, outside the Palace Grande. “I don’t think anyone should be upset because I would think that if a band thought that a territory sounded so cool as to use it as their career name, that’s kind of an honour. And I don’t mean, ‘Oh, you guys should feel honoured,’ but we think the name sounds cool.
“The idea behind the whole concept of the Yukon, like what people think of when they imagine the Yukon. It’s just this frontier territory. It’s just this really cool ambience to the name.”
Then the guys start listing bands with names that differ from their actual hometown.
“Kansas wasn’t from Kansas,” said Innes. (False: Kansas formed in Topeka, Kansas, in 1970.)
“Boston was though,” Scott adds. (True: Boston formed in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1975.)
But the story that first introduced them to the name, Yukon Blonde, is one shrouded in half-told stories and lies.
One features a candy bar with the namesake across its wrapper. Another, told into the microphone during the band’s Dawson performance by Scott, claims they share the name with, “the best weed you can find.”
But after dodging, ducking and diverting into random rants from various movies – most notably Scott and Innes’ horribly accented rendition of half of Spinal Tap – Innes finally retold a story that included their old bass player-turned tattoo artist, a witty, aging woman and a piece of grey hair.
“So here’s what it is,” said Innes. “Our old bass player, he used to haggle this manager all the time and call her Quicksilver and whatever. And then he found a grey hair on the table, or whatever, and he’s just like, ‘You can’t keep telling me you don’t have grey hair.” And she’s like, “I’m not grey, I’m Yukon blonde.” And I don’t know where she got that from, but it sounded so cool that we were just like, ‘We have to do it.’”
“And we had a really bad band name at the time,” said Scott. “It was Alpha Baby. So we were really desperate for a good something catchy.”
“Chicago’s not from Chicago,” Innes blurts out. (False: Chicago formed in Illinois’ largest city in 1967.)
Whether or not the grey-hair-story is actually true or not, the band says they are happier now to have come, and played, in the land they have named themselves after.
“I feel like I’ve earned it now,” said Scott.
And the name is not the only thing the group has left to “earn.”
On the precipice of a potentially very lucrative career, the band hopes the release of its next CD will break it internationally.
But their childlike, awkward demeanours raise questions, like whether or not they may be putting on boots too big for them.
“We definitely have a lot more earning to do,” said Scott. “I mean, we’ve only been to Europe once.”
But whether their boots are too big, or not, as they walked around the festival grounds of the Dawson City Music Festival, they looked like they fit the stereotypes they emulate, as their hair flows in the wind behind them and broods of female fans nip incessantly at their heels.
Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at