Hailing from Saskatoon, Wide Mouth Mason was formed in 1995 by childhood friends singer/guitarist Shaun Verreault and drummer Safwan Javed. Bassist Earl Pereira joined them in garage bands after his family moved to Toontown from Toronto in the early ’90s. After a year of college convinced everyone music was their calling, they began playing the local area to hone their chops, working originals into sets that featured covers of everyone from Jimi and Stevie Ray to Prince and BB King. Before long they’d graduated to the prairie bar circuit while continuing to write material, fusing blues and and pop with new age heavy metal.
During a tour of the west coast, they decided to record some material at Greenhouse Studios in Vancouver, which resulted in their independent debut album. Only 2,500 copies of THE NAZARENE were released in ’96, but it drew the interest of several labels when it was shopped around as the band’s demo.
WEA signed them and re-released the record as a self-titled album after sending them back to Greenhouse and tweaking a few things with producer Joel Van Dyke. The only major change was “Black Pepper Joe” was replaced with what would become one of their standards – “This Mourning,” one of four singles. The others that helped push the album over the gold mark in March of ’98 were the lead-off “My Old Self,” “Midnight Rain,” and “The Game. It was only a month later that they were nominated for Best New Group at that year’s Juno Awards ceremonies. They made a trip to Europe, where they went over so well at the 1997 Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, that Van Morrison even asked Verreault to join him on-stage.
They returned to Greenhouse with new producer David Leonard (Sheena Easton, The Outfield) in ’99 with WHERE I STARTED. It produced four singles – the top 40 “Why,” “Companion,” “Sugarcane,” and “Half a Chance.” The band was on the road throughout North America for the better part of two years, including a coveted slot on MuchMusic’s Edgefest ’99 show in Toronto, where a live version of “King of Poison” found its way onto their compilation album of the same name. When all was said and done, the band had its second straight gold record and they’d opened for George Thorogood, The Rolling Stones on five separate occasions, as well as for The Guess Who on their reunion tour.
Released in 2000, STEW earned the band their first Juno nomination for Best Rock Album. Critics and fans alike praised the band for the harder edge than before in the singles “Smile,” “Change,” and “Ease Your Mind,” and it became their third straight gold record. They found themselves on the road for another year, which included sharing the stage with ZZ Top on the Canadian leg of their tour. The album also marked the beginning of the band’s association with Gordie Johnson from Big Sugar, who not only produced the record, but also brought the band along for the ride on Big Sugar‘s North American tour.
Although his previous studio credits included the likes of Aimee Mann, Foo Fighters, and Blue Meanies, and had also worked on several movie soundtrack scores, Todd Burke made his major release production debut on Wide Mouth Mason’s 2002 release, RAINED OUT PARADE. Although the title track was the only single the label released, it peaked at #32, and on the backs of other power hitters like the lead-off “Bootleggin’,” “My New Self,” and “My Attitude,” it earned the band their second straight Juno nomination for Rock Album of the Year.
That same year, WEA released a China-only greatest hits package that included a remix of “Change,” as well as a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” – a song they often performed live but never released domestically. They toured extensively for the next couple of years, including several jaunts around the continent with friends Big Sugar again, while at the same time taking time off to concentrate on everyone’s life outside of music.
They returned in 2005 with SHOT DOWN SATELLITES with new producer Ross Damude, their one-time manager. Only one single made it to the top 40 – “I Love Not Loving You,” which also saw the video get heavy rotation on video stations. With other noteable cuts like the title track, “Everybody’s Right” and the message every guy’s wanted to tell a girl at one time or another in “Please Go Home,” the band once again found itself on tour for the better part of the next tours, opening for AC/DC and headlining many of their own shows.
The band took a break again and played sparingly for nearly two years, during which time Javed finished his law studies and became a licensed lawyer. This came in handy when took over legal representation of the band, and specializes in copyright and other music and entertainment-related matters.
Back on the road, they toured Europe, resulting in the 2009 release, LIVE! MONTREAUX, SWITZERLAND. Along with a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Castles Made of Sand,” the album nicely captured their energetic live essence through some of their biggest hits.
But looking to do something different, Pereira left the band once the tour was finished and formed a rock/funk group called Mobadass, leaving Wide Mouth Mason’s future up in the air. Undeterred, they reformed in 2012 with longtime friend Gordie Johnson, who was doing double duty with Big Sugar. With Johnson the new bass player, they released NO BAD DAYS later that year, and on the backs of power chord hits like “Get A Hold Of You,” “Little Sister,” and “Only The Young Die Good,” the album was critically acclaimed as one of their best ever, and most diverse, thanks in part to the addition of Johnson’s writing. Tour dates that year included several headlining shows, as well as some co-billed with Big Sugar.