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“It feels like we're on the right track.” -2023 NSMZ Rising Star Award winners Checkout Queens

By Scott Roos

photo by Tracy Creighton/Copperblue Photography and Design

Saskatoon's Checkout Queens tore the roof off The Black Cat Tavern during their Halloween themed ep release show (photo by Tracy Creighton)

Our 2023 “Rising Star” award winners, Checkout Queens, with the release of their debut self-titled EP, burst onto the Saskatoon music scene with a thunderous roar.  Engineered, recorded, mixed and produced by Matt Stinn at Rainy Day Recording Co in Saskatoon,  the punk rock sextet provide humorous, compelling, punchy, and oddly relatable songs. Sure it’s powerchordy mayhem but it has some sort of oddball purpose. Just what is the point of it? Maybe it’s to knock your f*cking socks off or perhaps just a rock solid, zircon encrusted, punch directly to your cranium. The jury is still out on them, and when we know just who and what they are, we will get back to you. Be assured of that. For now, you NEED to bask in the sheer glory of their collective quirkiness.  

Fronted by the powerful, co-lead vocals of Oli Guselle and Avery Wall and filled out by Spencer Krips (guitars), Braden Buhler (guitars), Alan Nieman (bass), and Jake Decker, drums, the band is swiftly becoming a force to be reckoned with live and definitely in the “must see” category if they are coming to your town. 

Upon being informed of the award, vocalist Oli Guselle was obviously thrilled, shocked, and pleasantly surprised. NSMZ awards have no application process and no public voting. Awards are based on coverage given to the many Sask based artists that we report on throughout the year. Lively discussion then ensues between NSMZ staffers, the writers and photographers, as to which of these artists is worthy of recognition, which, in turn, creates a culture of meritocracy within the rank and file of the zine and its followers.  

“You guys don't have any skin in the game. You're not my family or anything. To have people (like NSMZ) choosing you who don't have that connection really shows that our music is connecting to people wider than our personal circle and that is amazing,” remarked Guselle, “Support from the community and stuff like this just gives me the energy and the life to keep pushing and keep going. It feels like we're on the right track. It feels really good and gives me that energy.” 

Checkout Queens was meant to be a fun project based on the mutual friendships and common interests of a collective of extremely talented and creative individuals. But, as they perform more regularly, and gain more momentum, they are beginning to realize that it’s becoming more than that. Checkout Queens are taking on a life of their own.


“We kind of all decided that this (band) was…. a place where we could share our music with one another, collaborate, have fun; just kind of live our little rock star fantasies. We all have had this secret desire for so long…. We were just gonna live it out and it's really crazy watching things happening that are seeming more and more not so much like a fantasy.,” Guselle told NSMZ.

“I think all of us have been having some talks. We have all agreed we are all very committed to this and, now that things are starting to get a little more real and more opportunities are on the horizon, we are all sort of gearing up for taking this fantasy and taking this seriously and trying to make that a bit more of a reality.”

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Love Last Birds! I cant stop listening to their New Album! Cant say enough How much I love their Music and look forward to collecting their next album! ( hopefully soon theyll have another in their plans) the fluidity and melodic Guitars & Voices really draw you in to a good mood & cant help singing along! I cant believe there is all this amazing “sound” with only two guitars and two voices!! Astounding, unique, and Folk at its Roots!!! ❤️❤️❤️

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