The Idols Saskatoon

Before They Were Famous: Sask bands you may not have heard about

Did you know that Colin James’ first band was called The Wankers?

Saskatchewan has churned out some great musicians who have gone on to fame, fortune and various Juno awards and/or nominations.

But many of our local rock stars originally slogged about as an early version of themselves with a far less-marketable band name. It happens. Being 15-years-old and stoned with a bunch of dumb ideas also happens.

The Idols

Before he was burning up both radio charts and underwear as front man of the platinum-selling Northern Pikes, Jay Semko was a part of The Idols, who were billed as “Saskatoon’s first new wave band.” Semko himself tells some rather harrowing tales of his pre-Pikes band literally being run out of small towns across the province.

Seventeen Envelope

Saskatoon’s John Sinclair may have shot to fame as a member of The Pursuit of Happiness – anyone remember radio hits such as “I’m An Adult Now” and “Cigarette Dangles”? But before his big break in Toronto Sinclair played bass in weirdo punk rock group Seventeen Envelope. Fun fact: This group also featured future Northern Pike Bryan Potvin.

The Wankers

Believe it or not: Juno Award winning blues smith Colin James began his rock career as a member of the inauspiciously-named Regina punk band The Wankers. James has since gone on to far greater things, including touring with guitar legend Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Neurotic Paperboy

Jason Plumb currently has a respectable solo career, although he might be best known for his role as front man of The Waltons, who formed in Regina in the late ‘80s. But before they became a Juno-winning band, the group was originally known as Neurotic Paperboy. Retrospectively, the change was likely for the best.


Back when ‘emo’ was still a thing, along with hair swoops and wearing your belt on backwards like a ninny, Regina’s Filmmaker were at the top of the heap, and featured a young Carl Johnson and Mike Dawson who both gig with Library Voices. The group’s later line-up included current Molten Lava stick man Tristan Helgason, who also played with Queen City groups such as Ghosts of Modern Man and 400 Strong.

The Breaks

Before Rolling Stone magazine cemented their rock ‘n’ roll legend, The Sheepdogs first began gigging around locally as The Breaks. According to bassist Ryan Gullen, the four-piece changed their name after they “found out about 10 other bands had that name.”


Editor’s Note – This article originally appeared in Planet S Magazine and Prairie Dog Magazine.