Colin James Was a Punk Before You Were a Punk

Juno-Winning Saskatchewan bluesman once led Regina punks The Wankers

Colin James, a Regina-born bluesman who first shot to fame following a tour opening for Stevie Ray Vaughn, was a punk before you were a punk.


Although there are zero traces of anything remotely punk on his self-titled debut album released in 1988, one of James’ first bands was called The Wankers, as revealed in Sam Sutherland’s Can-punk memoir Perfect Youth.

According to Sutherland, The Wankers, along with other local punk outfits such as The Extroverts, played at an impromptu venue/restaurant called The Schnitzel House. Click here for a read on past Regina punk venues.

And in an interview with Ominocity, James confirmed that he did in fact lead The Wankers – a snippet of local rock history that tends to be overlooked.

“There was definitely an arc of how I learned to play music,” says James. “When I was 12 I was playing the mandolin mostly, not even guitar, and was learning fiddle songs. There was some folk and blues, but really a focus on bluegrass. And when I was 16 I was hanging out with a lot of older people – even in grade 10 I was with people a lot older than me. And at that point the punk and new wave thing was really coming on. We had a band and we would open up for the Extroverts, which was Regina’s premiere band at the time. We ended up opening up for a D.O.A. show, a Subhumans show, and Young Canadians.

“We were terrible. We really had no business being there. But it was just where I went for a while,” laughs James.

“And there was one terrible, terrible recording somewhere. There was a song called ‘Dead In The Bathroom’. I can barely remember it but someone has it somewhere.”

If you happen to know someone who has a copy of “Dead In The Bathroom”, Ominocity would very much like to chat with you.

Colin James will be making a headlining appearance at this year’s Saskatchewan Jazz Festival. You can catch James on Friday, June 21 at the Bessborough Gardens.

-Photo from Flickr user “Ianiv & Arieanna” – Creative Commons.