Wide Mouth Mason bringing big sound to city

The guys from ZZ Top play furry guitars, but Wide Mouth Mason’s Sean Verreault plays fuzzy guitar.

The guys from ZZ Top play furry guitars, but Wide Mouth Mason’s Sean Verreault plays fuzzy guitar.

In case you’re wondering about the difference, the bearded wonders from Texas actually wield plush-covered guitars, while Verreault’s electric guitar only sounds fur covered.

Verreault explains in his characteristically descriptive way, that there are several methods to make a guitar sound “dirty.”

You can put it in overdrive and get that “muscular” AC/DC sound. Or you can go for total distortion and get the crackly, grungy Nirvana sound, said the Vancouver resident, who performs with his band on Friday, Oct. 12, at The Vat in Red Deer.

If you’re aiming for something roughly in between, you get what Verreault describes as an “audio caterpillar sound that’s big and round and warm, and a bit fuzzy.”

The 38-year-old figures he achieved this on the latest Wide Mouth Mason release, No Bad Days, which spawned the blues-soaked single Get A Hold of You.

“When there’s only three of you in the band, it’s like making pasta with only a few ingredients. All of the ingredients had better be really strong and not be hiding behind anything” because all are needed to make an impression, said Verreault.

“Space is really important for us — it’s like our fourth member,” added the Saskatchewan-raised musician, who performs in Wide Mouth Mason with Toronto-based drummer Safwan Javed and Texas-based bassist Gordie Johnson.

Filling this space with big sound and a minimum of production values was the band’s primary goal on No Bad Days.

Verreault describes the CD as more of a no-frills documentary than a big Hollywood blockbuster because it captures performances exactly as they were.

“We wanted it to sound unfussy, untouched — kind of like whatever happens, happens. . . . Rather than adding layers to it, I thought of it as the Japanese style of painting in one unbroken line. When the line stops, you lift the brush and it’s done.”

The resulting album, produced by Johnson, contains imperfections, but also the raw energy the band was striving for. Verreault said, “The three of us had a beautiful interaction, where we were playing off each other.”

That interplay began in 2010 when Wide Mouth Mason’s former bassist, Earl Pereira, quit just before group was invited to open for none other than ZZ Top — “which is something you can’t say ‘No’ to,” said Verreault.

Johnson, of Big Sugar, Grady and Sit Down Servant!, was a friend, producer and frequent tour partner of the band. Despite all of his other projects, Johnson agreed to step in and play bass with the group during the tour. And “it was a perfect fit. . . . After a few gigs we thought, this needs to be the way it is, because it’s the most fun we’ve had,” said Verreault.

Johnson has been a permanent member of the trio since 2011. The fun continues during Wide Mouth Mason’s current tour from Montreal to Vancouver Island. The opening band in Red Deer and elsewhere is The Balconies.

For more information about the show, call 403-346-5636.


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