Profile: Wide Mouth Mason

The thing about mainstream music is, you can’t often be just a bit too left-of-centre or you won’t truly be appreciated.  Now, I’m far from one of those people who’s like “MAINSTREAM MUSIC IS WATERED-DOWN CORPORATE FLUFF AND LACKS ANY SUBSTANCE”, but sometimes an artist doesn’t quite take that next step because they’re not straightforward enough.  To me, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan’s Wide Mouth Mason have always been one of those groups.  Truth be told, they’ve actually enjoyed a fair amount of success in Canada and wouldn’t totally be classified as underground, but I’ve always felt they were a bit under-appreciated.

WMM started in the mid-nineties as Shaun Verreault (vocals/guitar), Safwan Javed (drums) and Earl Pereira (bass/vocals), with Pereira being replaced by Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar/Grady in 2011.  They do blues-influenced rock, that also features a pop influence.  Aside from 1996’s indie debut The Nazarene, which is out of print and largely re-recorded for their self-titled major label debut, they have six albums: 1997’s Wide Mouth Mason, 1999’s Where I Started, 2000’s Stew, 2002’s Rained Out Parade, 2005’s Shot Down Satellites, and 2011’s No Bad Days, the first with Johnson on bass and the second album of theirs he produced (after Stew). 

Wide Mouth Mason are an eclectic group, and their sound has definitely evolved over the years.  It was Stew where the pop influence really came through, with hella catchy singles “Smile” and “Change” (the audio quality in the latter video is poor, but Earl looks like such a badass that I had to link to it).  Shot Down Satellites got a little heavier, and throughout blues has been a staple of the band’s sound, with other randomness.  Shaun Verreault is a very good and interesting guitarist, and has one of my favourite voices in music – sure he’s the frontman, but my love of WMM still comes largely from him.

Looking at the full discography, seven albums in nineteen years is actually not a bad average, but WMM have been more sporadic with the releases over the past decade.  They did have a time bassist-free, as Earl Pereira left to concentrate on his other band Mobadass, now known as The Steadies.  Their current bassist is also in two other bands and produces for many others, and I suppose it’s better to go three or four years between albums and make them count, than put one out every two and be so-so.

What will 2015 bring for Wide Mouth Mason?  There doesn’t appear to be word on a new album or tour dates, but they’re very active on social media and worth a follow there.  That’s actually one thing about the band: they’re very down-to-Earth.  They post lots of random things online, are goofy, and by all accounts nice too.  I actually exchanged e-mails with Safwan Javed years ago for a project I was putting together, and even from that one response I got he seemed genuine and cool.  Hopefully we get more music – live or recorded – from Wide Mouth Mason this year, because the official stance of TPS is they’re one of the most underrated bands in Canada.  It’d be nice to see them have an international presence too, because to my knowledge they’ve kept it fairly close to home so far.  I also hope I haven’t shortchanged them by calling them underrated and left-of-centre: they’ve won awards and shit don’tcha know.

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