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Originally published by Edmonton Journal on Saturday, August 31, 2002. All rights reserved.

Band and fans test the links on a mini-tour

Thanks to Kells for transcribing this article.

By Sandra Sperounes, Edmonton Journal

Wide Mouth Mason's Safwan Javed sucks in a breath of The Golf Dome's stale air, hikes up his pants and smiles.

"We suck!" he yells.

It's not what you think. The drummer is actually referring to the Saskatoon trio's talents on the golf course. Like most rock stars, Safwan, bassist Earl Pereira and frontman Shaun Verreault are practising hacks.

"Shaun got to a certain level and then he tanked," says Safwan. "Earl and I had to walk on the opposite side of the fairway from him."

"I'm a sucker for punishment," shrugs Shaun.

We could have been bowling, but Wide Mouth Mason's manager didn't think it was "cool" enough. So, instead, we're in The Golf Dome, which reeks like a combination of B.O., pine needles and grass.

Denise and Priscilla Chan don't seem to notice or care. The two Edmonton sisters are about to play mini golf with the trio, courtesy of a Journal contest (and Warner Music Canada). The Chans are loyal Wide Mouth fans, even travelling to Calgary and Banff to see their favourite group.

"Their show is unique," says Denise, 26. "They always improvise."

"They're really down to earth," says Priscilla, 23.

The last time Denise played mini golf was in July. Priscilla took up the real game two years ago. Yet she doesn't like her chances against the Wide Mouth duffers.

"Maybe we can team up and beat them," she suggests.

The golfing gang is about to tee up on the first hole. The Chans chat with the guys as if they're old friends. Safwan takes a keen interest in Denise's profession, she works as a pharmacist.

"You're a legal drug dealer," says Javed, then gives her a gentle touch on the knuckles with his own. "Yeah, you've got a shifty drug vibe."

Denise laughs.

"What kind of drugs do you have access to?" Javed asks, clearly more interested in pharmaceuticals than putters. "I have friends who experiment."

"YOU CAN'T PRINT THAT!" shouts Shaun.

"Yes you can," smiles Saf. (OK, done.)

Scan of newspaper image

Earl wins the first hole, sinking the ball in two shots. Saf and Shaun need three, as do Denise and Priscilla.

The second hole, a bendy right-hander, is easier. Everyone gets deuces, except for Priscilla. She misses her first three shots. On her fourth, Shaun and Saf kick the ball in the cup with their feet.

"Look at that!" she beams.

Priscilla wins the third hold -- by two shots. Earl loses his touch and cards a six, but he roars back. He takes the fourth hole in two shots and raises his arms in triumph.

By the seventh, Denise is taking photos of Earl and Safwan. Shaun's game looks like it's falling apart -- or getting intoxicated. His ball zigs and zags ever so slowly up a tiny hill.

"That's a total freak shot," says Saf.

"I'm a total freak golfer," says Shaun.

On the eighth, the freak shoots a hole in one.

By the end of the ninth, the golfers are ready to sit down and chat. We head over to the lounge, where Denise and Priscilla seem to instantly lose the power of speech. It's left up to another hack, of the writing variety, to tee off some questions.

Question: Are there any similarities between golf and music?

Shaun: I think there's similarities between golf and the music business. One great thing will happen and then you feel like you've been kicked in the groin a bunch of times. But for some reason, you still keep going back.

And every now and then, the ball drops for you.

Question: Have you been kicked recently?

Shaun: Well, there are some things that are just soft nudgings with unclipped toenails.

Safwan: But after a while, just like golf, you develop a tolerance to it and it's almost kinda fun. You laugh at it.

Shaun: As for music business stuff, it's the usual thing that every band would get into -- how expensive it is to tour, how you're always looking out for your best interest, how you're working with people who are looking out for their best interest. Just that dirty laundry stuff that's never as interesting as golf.

After a few more queries and jokes, it's time for the Wide Mouth boys to head off to their next interview. They sign a few album covers and posters for Denis and Priscilla, take a few photographs, then say their farewells.

The two sisters stay behind to gather up their booty.

"That was FUN," grins Denise, who ended up scoring better than her sister.

Final scores: Earl(24), Safwan (25), Denise (26.5), Shaun (27), Priscilla (29).

Drops of Rain

If 2000's Stew was a groovy experiment in funk, Wide Mouth Mason's new disc, Rained Out Parade, is a return to the trio's rockier roots, with not so much emphaasis on the blues.

"When we started coming to Edmonton to do demos, we'd drive and in these five-hour drives, we eventually gravitated towards Led Zeppelin, CCR and The Police. Rock music." says drummer Safwan Javed. "I think that stuff just rattles around in your brain and marinates."

Rained Out Parade was recorded in The Tragically Hip's studio in Ontario. The studio, which is located in a house, was used as a fourth musician.

"The main room has a window that looks out on the water, and then there's a piano and a bookshelf," says frontman Shaun Verreault, "and I'd sing into the corner and adjust the books differently so (my vocals) would ring off the corner or be pretty jammed up."

Last year, Wide Mouth's manager revealed Shaun was about to work on a solo disc. It never happened, the frontman says, because it was never planned.

"I told Norm (Sharpe) I really liked the solo on the record and he just assumed," smiles Shaun.

"Norm is always on cloud 11," groans Safwan. "Ninety-nine per cent of the music industry is rumours."

Copyright © Edmonton Journal

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