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  Wide Mouth Mason

by Paul Yanko
Wide Mouth Mason (l-r) Shaun Verreault, Safwan Javed and Earl Pereira.
- courtesy Jason Stang
Wide Mouth Mason (l-r) Shaun Verreault, Safwan Javed and Earl Pereira.

[Blast from the past: this story ran a long time ago. Earl has since left, Gordie Johnson has joined and WMM has progressed enormously. But we're keeping it posted for "heritage value.'' Hey, we were all kids at one time!- ed.]

In their first four years as a band, members of Saskatoon's Wide Mouth Mason accumulated some impressive musical accomplishments.

Opening for the legendary Rolling Stones is high on the list.

Since April of 1998, band members Safwan Javed, Earl Pereira and Shaun Verreault have been asked to open for the Stones not once or twice, but five times.

"I didn't realize just how big a deal this was until I was actually there," says Javed, the band's drummer and backing vocalist. "It was immense, it was surreal… it was fun!

"We were playing to more people than we'd ever played to before and the crowd responded very well. It was really nice - a big pat on the back."

Meeting Mick and the rest of the guys wasn't so bad, either.

"You can sense the passion these people have for what they do," says Javed. "We respect that and we're in awe of that."

The Stones' roadies were really helpful, says Javed. They allowed them to use the Stones' jumbo television screen and videotaped a concert for them. It was one of those nice surprises the band won't forget.

A bigger surprise came in 1997, after Wide Mouth Mason was invited to play the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. At the closing news conference for the festival, Claude Nobs, the Festival's founder and director, announced the highlight of this year's festival was the world's discovery of Wide Mouth Mason.

Collage image of a performance.
- courtesy Warner Canada
Collage image of a performance.

"That was such a milestone for us," Javed said during the phone interview from his hotel in London, ON. "The Montreux Festival has such a history. For more than 30 years now it's been the festival that everyone who is anyone in the music business goes and plays.

"Just being in the same line-up with (Eric) Clapton, Herbie Hancock, Ziggy Marley, Me'shell Ndegé Ocello, Ray Charles and Van Morrison is a pretty good feeling."

There's been plenty to feel good about. But since their self-titled debut CD released in March, 1997 went gold in Canada (sales of more than 50,000 copies), there have been challenges, as well.

"It was like nothing I could have imagined," says Javed, who holds a degree in religious studies from the University of Saskatchewan. "I thought it would be a pretty easy life. But you quickly realize there's a lot of very hard work involved both onstage and off."

The business end, for instance, was a real eye-opener.

"My reason for doing this is my passion for music, not to get involved in number crunching," says the soft-spoken Javed. "But you have to be involved with that because if you don't, it means someone else is controlling all your business affairs. That's a pretty scary idea."

At the time of the interview, Wide Mouth Mason was touring east to west across Canada in support of its second CD entitled Where I Started (they released Stew in 2000). Their large, pink, custom tour bus decorated with giant sperm turned many heads as it roared by. It came courtesy of the band's sponsor, a condom company.

As a result, they earned the nickname "The Rubber Band."

"At first it was kind of a joke," says Javed. "But we were getting sick of cigarette banners and alcohol billboards everywhere we played. So we approached Durex and right away they were into it - it's very positive, socially."

Bright lights and big cities: Saskatchewan's own Wide Mouth Mason.
- courtesy Warner Canada
Bright lights and big cities: Saskatchewan's own Wide Mouth Mason.

Wide Mouth Mason is on roll. And while Javed and the other band members are well aware of the flavor-of-the-day aspect of the music business, they're enjoying the ride and working hard to make it a long one.

"I've gotten more life experience in the last two years than during the rest of my life combined. It's been a great, wonderful experience and I wouldn't trade it for anything."

Check out WMM's website for up to date news and performance dates.

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