Stefan Lessard Talks Yukon Kornelius
Yukon Kornelius rehearsing for FestEVOL
The all-star cover band, Yukon Kornelius will headline the FestEVOL on Saturday at Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow, Vermont. The group consists of Stefan Lessard (Dave Matthews Band), Ed Robertson (Barenaked Ladies), Adam Gardner (Guster) and Eric Fawcett (Spymob). O.A.R. and DJ Logic will open the night while Numerous guests wil sit-in over the course of the night including: former Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach, moe. guitarist Al Schnier will sit in Dave Matthews Band trumpeter Rashawn Ross, Ratt’s Warren DeMartini, DJ Logic, Godsmack’s Sully Erna, actor/bell player Jason Biggs, Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider, O.A.R.‘s Marc Roberge and Jerry DePizzo, Fuel’s Brett Scallions and Brad Corrigan of Dispatch. For those unable to attend, the performance will be broadcast on AXS TV.
Stefan Lessard took a few moments to discuss the project. His other group, Dave Matthews Band, appears on the current cover of Relix
On March 16, you’re at Okemo with Yukon Kornelius, your side project. It’s the first time in 5 years that this band is going to be on the east coast. I just want to know what it was like getting the band back together and how this show in Vermont came about.
Stefan: Yukon, we were all playing together as a group. We seemed to fit really well together and so originally when we first got together and played that show in Okemo, we kind of walked away from that kind of thinking, “Okay, we could kind of make this into something bigger and maybe write some original music together and really have fun with each other.” And then the reality of everyone’s schedule and bands came back into play and so we kind of realized that [the idea of] Yukon being this fun side project that we were always working and touring with wasn’t going to happen unless someone’s band all broke up. We kind of made a goal to kind of do these shows because it was so much fun to get together.
So we kind of found ourselves where we could. We went kind of corporate in the beginning and then we did some bigger public shows. Vail was our biggest one, our last show there. We walked away from there like, “Okay! What’s the next thing?” and then our manager sort of really helped put this whole thing together with me. He was a friend of Ed Robertson [Barenaked Ladies] and Adam [Gardner] from Guster, those guys. He happens to live in the Northeast area and he grew up around Okemo and so I think he wanted to bring Yukon back there. And so, because it takes a lot of work for a Yukon show because it is so many different people with so many different schedules, and just the logistic stuff, it’s harder than a regular DMB show because there’s no flow. Getting everyone in one spot, getting new songs together, trying to get a somewhat similar setlist from our other shows but also a different setlist.
It’s mostly covers, is that right? Not a lot of DMB or Barenaked Ladies or Guster songs. Was there a reason behind that? Was it because it was more fun playing covers?
When we got together, we were just kind of throwing together songs that we could all play and learn or whatever. That would be simple and kind of fun to do and sing along and stuff like that. And when you get down to it, you have Guster songs, you have Barenaked Ladies songs, you have DMB songs, and they have their fans and everything but [with Yukon] you [also] have like a Cream song! You might never get to see Ed Robertson sing “Psycho Killer.” So that idea of “Well, we’ll do one of our own tunes but let’s do other songs!” Adam and Ed, they never played “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper” together until Yukon, and now it’s kind of our signature cover song.
We try to incorporate everyone’s music into it but at the same time, we’ve had so much fun playing other tunes. And there are elements of other people. We did “Round and Round” in Vail with Warren DeMartini [Ratt] and Dee Snider singing it. Just to try to make these moments on stage that are unique and creative and even though they’re cover songs, to try and do them in a way no one has ever seen them before.
So that’s the reason that you guys haven’t done a bit of a tour because schedules are so complicated to put together?
Yes, absolutely. 100%
Is a tour something you’d consider if the time allowed?
Oh yeah! I would consider getting with the guys and writing some original songs too.
It’s cool that you have this core group which is the band and every time, like Brad Corrigan is going to be at this show, and the guys from O.A.R. and Godsmack. Is everyone aware of the show and they’re like, “Oh, we want to come hang out,” or are they invited? How does that work out?
Those were invitations from past shows that maybe they weren’t able to attend. We keep inviting. If we have a good relationship with a musician that we feel would go well with Yukon, we’ll make the invitation and see what happens. I was trying to do some work with Sully [Erna] from Godsmack a few years ago and Yukon couldn’t do the shows so we put together a band called Secret Stash, and it’s kind of a hybrid of Yukon. It was just for a charity event for Jake Burton. I’ll just do that for him because he’s a friend of mine. Sully and I, we sort of talked about getting together and Sully this time actually came back to us and said, “Hey I saw that you guys are doing that [show], my sister told me that Yukon is getting back together. I’d love to come play a song.” So we talked about it and thought that would be a good fit. So yeah, we have some surprises with Sully. That’s the way it worked out. I mean, Warren DeMartini, he came out the first time. And then the next year didn’t really work for him to come back out but I had Mike McCready there with me. I’m always trying to find one good shredder, and then we’ve got the core guys and then whoever else is fun. I mean, DJ Logic is fun. We’ve put a lot of invitations out there.
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