Entertainment

Turning the volume knob to 11

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It's a difficult situation. You're a fairly seasoned Canadian band--part blues, part rock and a little pop-rock to push it through--and you've been asked to open for AC/DC. What's more, you were asked only because Slash, who was originally on the bill, pulled out at the last minute. Aside from the fact that you're playing to AC/DC fans, who are looking for something considerably different than what you'd normally offer, they're also expecting a top hat and curls. They get you instead.

So was the reality of Saskatoon natives Wide Mouth Mason, although as front man Shaun Verreault tells it, you have to make the best out of a bad situation.

"Not only did people not know who our band was, they were expecting someone else," says Verreault, who recalls the boos and heckles that came with taking the stage before the band behind "Thunderstruck." "You're aware of the fact that they're not there to see you, but you have a room full of people and their seats are all facing your direction. So you give them something they're interested in and they'll pay attention to it."

Not only was opening for bands like AC/DC and the Rolling Stones a good learning experience in and of itself, it also had noticeable effects on the new album, Rained Out Parade. Tailoring shows to the hard-rock, headbanging audiences didn't just try their versatility, but shaped their writing as well.

"We could hardly do the touring we did with AC/DC and not have the heaviness knob turned up a bit," says Verreault.

And with harder songs like "Bootlegging" and "Dry You Up" peppering this album it's a noticeable change. As Verreault explains, this approach to the writing process is nothing new; the live show has always creeped into the studio.

"It was always an important part of the writing process," he begins. "We find a lot of the time when we put out a record, we'll have a live version that had changed quite a bit. We wanted some of that happening before we went in to record it."

Their music doesn't solely come from outside influences, be it AC/DC or Stevie Ray Vaughn. As bassist Earl Pereira explains, they're more concerned with building on what they've already done than looking at other musicians.

"Instead of using other artist influences, it's sort of been our own," Pereira says. "The songs off our new album to me are a combination of the first album mixed in from Where I Started, instead of a bit of Stevie Wonder and little bit of so and so."

The rest of the band agrees, adding that it's difficult to sum up their music with a single term, or group it within a certain genre. After all, says Verreault, while some suggest Wide Mouth Mason is blues-based, if a true blues legend like Muddy Waters were to hear it today, he might disagree.

Drummer Safwan Javed tries to sum up their position on the musical spectrum.

"I think we're conscious that it's all over the place," says Javed. "We've always perceived that as our strength. We want that; we want to be diverse. It may make us so that the big business component of the industry doesn't see us as a very viable tool to make money off of, but that's OK with us."

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