I always loved flipping on MuchMusic and staring at it for hours, but I loved it even more when a musician would cameo in another musician’s video. As a fan, it was cool to watch for, but it also made me think that maybe there was a real community out there, with artists supporting each other, making music with their friends. None of these videos made anyone famous for 15 minutes (well, except the last one) and some of them even stand up today.
Nicole Hughes in “Freeway” by Salmonblaster
One of my favourite videos from one of my favourite albums, “Freeway” was a staple of MuchMusic’s request show, Daily RSVP, which gave the London, Ontario trio plenty of exposure. The fact that Nicole Hughes from Scratching Post is part of the jilted girlfriend’s revenge squad is just a testament to the tight London scene.
Danko Jones in “Empty Cell” by Rusty
There are actually two videos for this tune, the first single from Rusty’s Sophomoric album. Both directed by Bruce La Bruce, one is more of a short film, featuring the mighty Danko Jones as a man who is seduced by a woman who ain’t pretty (she just looks that way – yeah, same actress). Between this clip and that one Kids in the Hall sketch, I learned everything I needed to know (but was afraid to ask) about crab shampoo. The other version (which YouTube doesn’t seem to have) features frontman Ken MacNeil doing his best Alanis in “Ironic” impression, if I remember correctly. Then in the Danko version, they drive by. Video inception? I don’t know.
Moe Berg and Tom Wilson in “Eat My Brain” by Odds
A gorgeously photographed black and white video with explosions and a chase scene (and no performance footage)? A definite oddity for a Canadian music video, but this one from Odds’ Good Weird Feeling was a hit, and not just because the song is great. In the clip, Steven, Craig, Pat and Doug are chased by a pissed off Tom Wilson (of, at the time, Junkhouse) and then they steal a convertible being driven by Moe Berg and the Pursuit of Happiness. These aren’t even the most Canadian things in the video – the final scene takes place in front of a Shopper’s Drug Mart.
Hugh Dillon in “Bobcaygeon” by The Tragically Hip
Kingston, Ontario represent! There was a time when Headstones frontman Hugh Dillon didn’t play a cop on multiple shows and hang out with Vera Farmiga, and that time was that night in Toronto. Watch when a bearded Hugh grabs the mic from the frontman of “The Constellations” and causes a riot. Good thing Gord is playing a Mountie again in this one.
Steven Drake, Dave Genn, Nardwuar, Brad Merritt and Ryan Dahle in “Chocolate Bar” by Pure
I’m still not sure if this black and white clip from Pure’s final record, Feverish, is them shaking the people down or them selling candy door-to-door, but I’ve always loved it since seeing it on MuchWest years ago. To see members of Vancouver contemporaries from Odds (Steven Drake), Matthew Good Band (Dave Genn), 54-40 (Brad Merritt), Limblifter (Ryan Dahle) and a hat-less Narwuar pop up to make an appearance still makes me giddy.
Holly McNarland in “Alabama Motel Room” by Matt Good Band
The first MGB video is as basic as they get, but it is important because it marks the start of a relationship between Matt and Holly McNarland. Before she went numb, she was running from something (a member of Gob?) in between performance clips and shots of a reflective Matt in a stairwell rocking some dime store shades. McNarland would go on to appear on Good’s Loser Anthems EP and his Chaotic Neutral LP.
Thrush Hermit in “Underwhelmed” by Sloan
The original version of “Underwhelmed” from the Peppermint EP is pretty trippy, especially when you factor in a prepubescent Joel Plaskett playing spin the bottle. Add in the band shirts the kids are rocking and this one is a clip that probably makes everyone blush to this day.
Robin Black in “Ugly” by Age of Electric
Before he was an Intergalactic Rock Star with John Kerns, he was a Ballroom Zombie hanging out at the Hotel Fort Garry in Winnipeg, simulating one take in this video that features the Saskatchewan band’s glam rock hair one last time.
Ryan Dennis in “Superman’s Dead” by Our Lady Peace
Yeah, this is where the Serial Joe kid got his start. Don’t remember Serial Joe? It was a rap/rock/pop thing featuring teenagers and one time Todd McFarlane drew them album artwork. Anyway, this video was huge and for some reason re-made without the gendre-bending storyline about consumer culture for American audiences featuring Rain Maida on guitar.
Moka Only and Brendan Canning in “Steal My Sunshine” by Len
Okay, they’re not acting as much as being members of the “Len Crew,” but it’s still weird. That, and it won all the MuchMusic awards as the ’90s ended and cost $100,000 to make. Whut.
BONUS VIDEO: Gob and Swollen Members in “Hundred Million” by Treble Charger
Yup, this one came out in 2002 (it also features future ex-married couple Derek Whibley and Avril Lavigne), but since I would consider Bill Priddle and co. a ’90s band we’ll throw this on here as a “hidden track” to the list, as it is still a nice representation of the CanRock music scene, despite being a questionable music video.