Indie video doesn’t earn band Much

In Arts & Life /

By Kevin Ritchie

As Mike Burke strolled down the red carpet laid out between the greasy streetcar tracks on Queen Street West, waving to the Funsaver-wielding masses, screaming at the bigger celebrities behind him, including Snow and the man-children B4-4, he knew he wouldn’t be taking home a MuchMusic Video Award.

The fourth-year Ryerson architecture student’s punk band, Sector Seven, was nominated in the Best Independent Video category at Thursday’s MMVAs for their much-requested ode to mud and dirt bikes, You Never Know. Instead, Canadian rapper Saukrates took home the award for Money or Love.

Once through the door, winners are assigned a headset-clad wrangler to keep an eyeon them and tell them when it’s time to accept the award.

“We didn’t get that,” said the disappointed drummer.

Walter Biljan, director of You Never Know, has been to the MMVAs before and said videos are judged on artistic merit as well as on their success in getting exposure for the band.

“The beautiful thing about Sector Seven is you don’t need to be a director with them,” Biljan said. “You point a camera at these guys, you put them in a situation and you let them create the video.”

A couple of hours before the Sept. 21 awards show, the band got together with friends at the Beverly Tavern, across the street from MuchMusic.

Speaking over the shouting, laughter and cheesy picture-posing going on around him, lead singer John Gauthier said he had comfort on his mind when he selected his outfit for the evening’s ceremony.

“I’ll be perfectly honest with you,” Gauthier said. “I was going to get my mom’s Visa card and buy a whole bunch of stuff. But I’m wearing what I normally wear.”

Burke wore khakis and a $9.99 grey, long-sleeved shirt from The Gap underneath a white, SNFU hooded sweatshirt.

“I was kind of hoping [Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera] would be wearing one of those dresses and they’d be all cold,” Burke said. “So I’d be like, ‘How ‘bout I give you my sweatshirt?’”

In spite of their unassuming attire, a couple of fans spotted them in the bar and the band eagerly posed for more pictures—the empty beer glasses piling up on the table.

Since You Never Know gets a lot of airplay on MuchMusic, fans father away from Toronto think Sector Seven is bigger than veteran punk bands such as Pennywise and Strung Out.

Burke said the video has given the band exposure to fans in Eastern Canada.

“The first show we played in Bathurst, N.B., we sold out of CDs, we sold out of T-shirts like crazy. I’ve never signed so many autographs,” he said.

“There’s a girl in New Brunswick who wants me to know her up.”

But he couldn’t let that go to his head at the MMVAs.

“The whole thing was kind of strange. There’s total segregation from the big, big stars,” Burke said.

“They get shuffled off to one end and everybody else gets stuck in another area.”

Burke and guitarist Lee Williamson managed to sneak away from the common people to wear Joey and JC from *NSYNC were waiting to present the award for best video.

“They were the coolest guys,” Burke says.

The two punks made small talk and congratulated the pop superstars on their success until they were hustled on their way.

When Williamson wandered onstage, security grabbed him, handcuffed him and ejected him from the schmoozefest.

The rest of the band joined their guitarist and proceeded to a dressy after party at the Courthouse, where they spotted Joey, JC and Aqua. Burke said bypassing a long line of snazzy celebrity-seekers waiting in the cold was “surreal.”

“I’m looking at them and they’re looking and me and wondering how I got in.”

Burke is going to finish his last year at Ryerson before the band begins touring next spring. This fall, Sector Seven will record their third album.

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