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Sage advice from road to rock 0

Shaun Verreault - who sang and shredded his way to fame as frontman for Wide Mouth Mason - is taking his solo tour to The Cellar on May 19. (FILE PHOTO)

Shaun Verreault - who sang and shredded his way to fame as frontman for Wide Mouth Mason - is taking his solo tour to The Cellar on May 19. (FILE PHOTO)

Debuting on the charts in 1996 with his band Wide Mouth Mason, Shaun Verreault is widely hailed as one of this country's best guitarists. Prior to his May 19 solo appearance at The Cellar, he'll share the bill with bassist Gordie Johnson's side duo project Sit Down, Servant, Joe Leary spent 24 Seconds with the Saskatchewan native.

24: It's hard to believe that it's been 16 years since the first Wide Mouth Mason album. What were your initial expectations back then?

SV: All our (Saskatchewan) musician friends were grinding it out in cover bands or worse, new country cover bands. We honed our skills in blues bars and rough small town roadhouses, driving barely-there vans much older and more rundown than we were; cautiously optimistic that we'd make it safely there and back alive on back roads through Prairie winters. All we really cared about was having a calendar full of gigs.

24: At what point did you relocate to Vancouver?

SV: I moved here in 2002. We had recorded our first couple of records here and I knew I'd live in Vancouver someday. Then I met a Burnaby girl .

24: What have been some of the career highlights that you've experienced in your career?

SV: Our two appearances at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland were hugely important to us as a band and as people. Opening for the Stones on two of their tours and being asked to open all of AC/DC's North American Stiff Upper Lip tour were amazing experiences. Probably the most surreal was in 2002 when we became the first North American rock band to tour Mainland China.

24: There have been paradigm shifts in the music business over the years. Do you feel it's better or worse?

SV: I think it's both better and worse. A $1,000 laptop has every sound imaginable in it and you can make an entire record for what a week's worth of tape used to cost. The question is, then what?

24: So what advice then do you offer aspiring musicians?

SV: Measure yourself against your heroes, not your peers. Write a hundred songs. If the intro is only interesting for two bars, don't do it for 36. Video and then critique and improve your performances. Don't use rhymes that have been done to death. Don't talk too much or too little between songs. Be respectful and friendly to the crew and the assistants. Only use as much distortion or overdrive as you really need; any more will turn your tone into mush. Learn how to intonate and maintain your gear. Bring your wallet and phone on stage with you.

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