By Nick Krewen

For The Record

When it comes to life in a rock band, there's no such thing as "too much protection."

It helps to have the right agent, manager and lawyer in place, but Saskatchewan trio WIDE MOUTH MASON is going one better: condom manufacturer Durex is sponsoring their tour.

Over the next twelve to 18 months, a bright pink bus illustrated with a white sperm strategically placed over the band's logo is announcing that Wide Mouth Mason is penetrating your town. Singer and guitarist SHAUN VERRAULT says the band is interested in promoting safe sex rather than safe sets.

"You gotta protect yourself," laughs Verrault, 25, over his home phone. "The people that need to hear about it most are 15 to 25. That's the fastest rising group of new infections."

Verrault says the band was searching for an alternative to the smokes-and-beer advertising mindset of most drinking establishments.

"It came from looking around the clubs we were playing and just wanting to have a positive message, a message that would hopefully block out the ones we had no control over, like the banners that would be there from cigarette and alcohol companies," Verrault explains.

"We said to our manager, `Why not go for a condom company? They could help us out with the cost for a tour bus.' I think they were surprised that no one had thought of that before."

Verrault, along with bassist EARL PEREIRA and drummer SAFWAN JAVED , said the band plans to include information booths at every show.

"There are lighthearted brochures that approach things in an honest way," he says. "It not only instructs you how to properly use condoms, but gives you a lot of information about sexually transmitted diseases and phone help lines to call if you want to talk anonymously.

"I'm glad there's some humor in it, because the fact that having unprotected sex these days can kill you is a gloomy, nasty prospect. Once the big boom in the media about AIDS was done, people figured it was gone or something. Attention has really died lately."

So Wide Mouth Mason is hoping that its womb-with-a-view cover art for its new album Where I Started  and its disciplined, brawny yet probing rock 'n roll will draw the crowds and spread the message.

In the meantime, the band is preparing to storm the world with Where I Started, commencing with the radio airplay the musclegrooved first single "Why" has received. PATRICK LEONARD, who has worked with everyone from MADONNA to BRYAN ADAMS, handles production chores. Verrault says Leonard relieved much of the stress in the early moments of their Vancouver recording sessions.

"David made us feel confident," confirms Verrault. "There were only two rules: Everybody's idea had to be tried out -- no matter how silly it was -- and we didn't have to worry about how we were going to reproduce it live, which was a concern in the past."

Verrault says Where I Started  is a progression from the band's 1997 self-titled debut.

"The arrangements are more interesting to my ears," he says. "We also got a lot of our lyrical ideas playing a lot of holes during our first tour -- places where people had a lot of strange things going on in their lives.

"As an observer, seeing the weirdest, darkest sides of people had an effect. We'd watch alcoholism firsthand where someone would visibly deteriorate within two weeks. We'd see the mating dances. In our own lives, we'd notice the challenges of keeping a relationship fresh and vital when you're away for three months.

"It's a strange thing when the thing you love and you need to do to be you is something that can keep you away from a lot of other the things you love. I think that tension and anxiety feeds a lot of the emotion in the music."

Verrault says it isn't all bad.

"We'd see really good sides of people too, " he admits. "We'd see them above and beyond the call of duty for us, and some we meet where we realize we never would have met them had we not been doing this."

Wide Mouth Mason also appears at The University Of Waterloo on Friday, March 26.



WHERE: Club Denim

WHEN: Thursday, March 18

TICKETS: (TBD). Call 836-1531



1997 -- Wide Mouth Mason

1998 -- Where I Started

©1999 Nick Krewen, Octopus Media Ink


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