by Paul Yanko
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
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.
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
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
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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