Vancouver-based band Yukon Blonde perform at Bo’s in Red Deer on Sunday.

Catching the New Wave

They’re too young to be experiencing early-’80s flashbacks, but members of Yukon Blonde threw hints of Talking Heads and Blondie on their new album. The band has purposely evolved from a guitar-driven rock band to a group with synth New Wave-pop influences. While Yukon Blonde’s first release in three years, On Blonde, has the potential to surprise fans, so far, all the feedback has been positive, said Brandon Scott, the group’s guitarist.

They’re too young to be experiencing early-’80s flashbacks, but members of Yukon Blonde threw hints of Talking Heads and Blondie on their new album.

The band has purposely evolved from a guitar-driven rock band to a group with synth New Wave-pop influences. While Yukon Blonde’s first release in three years, On Blonde, has the potential to surprise fans, so far, all the feedback has been positive, said Brandon Scott, the group’s guitarist.

“We started working with a vintage synthesizer and the new sound came naturally that way. It’s a darker, more mature sound than on our former record, but I consider it a natural progression.”

Band members, who perform on Sunday at Bo’s Bar and Grill in Red Deer, had taken a hiatus from touring to work on separate projects for a few months in 2013.

Lead singer Jeff Innes put out a solo album, while Scott put out an EP of folks songs, called Postcard Writer.

In regrouping to record, Yukon Blonde wasn’t going to sound just like it did on the 2012 Juno-nominated album Tiger Talk, said Scott — not with new bassist, James Bull, and new synth player Rebecca Gray on board.

Innes, the main songwriter, had also been listening to a lot of Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys last winter.

And this early 1980s influence is evident in the campy, glam rock video for the single Saturday Night. It stars Toronto drag queen Sapphire lip-synching to Innes’s voice, provoking viewers to question what they are seeing.

Director Mac Boucher liked this ambiguity, comparing Sapphire’s Diva persona to Tim Curry’s Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

“She’s animated, glamorous and is straight up one of the best performers I’ve ever seen,” stated Boucher.

Scott was also “blown away” by Sapphire’s performance on the video, which has a “’70s Italian film flavour that suited the song’s darker vibe. …

“I feel like the front half of our album is poppy and upbeat,” Scott continued, “but there’s a 1980s New York darker sound on songs like Saturday Night and Starvation.” He cites Talking Heads and Blondie music as influences.

Since the band doesn’t publish its lyrics or discuss songs, listeners will have to draw their own conclusions about meanings.

Scott was raised in remote Quesnel, B.C., and now appreciates its advantages. But when he was 17, he could hardly wait to escape to a bigger centre. He began studying photography at the University of Victoria before being lured to Kelowna by friends who wanted him to join their band, Ludo.

As he’d been playing guitar since age eight, and “the Okanagan had a bit of a record scene in the early 2000s,” Scott was glad to make the move.

In 2005, he partnered with Innes and drummer Graham Jones to form a group originally called Alphababy. “It was a terrible name,” said Scott, so was changed to Yukon Blonde.

Now based in Vancouver, the band has seen a steady turnover of members. Scott considers the current lineup “the best batch of musicians we’d had in a long time,” connecting musically and personally.

He looks forward to playing for Red Deer fans for the first time in a long while.

Tickets to the 7 p.m. concert, with special guests, are $12 to $17 from the venue. For more information, call 403-309-2200.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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