Should you find yourself placing a telephone call to Die Mannequin lead vocalist/guitarist Care Failure, the recorded message will no doubt sound like this. “Hi you’ve reached Care. Blah blah blah. Blah blah phone number, blah blah blah. Blah blah.
When finally contacted to discuss her band’s latest CD release Neon Zero, Care, also known to select neighbours as Caroline Kawa, jokes about the potential of conducting the entire interview in such a fashion. Like the infamous Yadda Yadda Yadda, Seinfeld television episode, Failure could just respond with blah, blah blahs if she chose not to answer the question, which of course would not provide much of an insight into the band’s first recording project in five years and Die Mannequin’s only second full album recording of their career.
“I mentally checked out for a while,” explained Failure of her band’s recent absence from the recording scene. “There were some problems on the team front which let me down a bit and I started to question where I fit it. I was listening to all this horrible music and I was getting disillusioned, I couldn’t relate to what was going on. But what were my options, to take up baking? It wasn’t like I had stopped writing music. During my absence, I probably wrote four albums worth of stuff, and then scrapped them or filed them away.
Deciding that the time was right to return to the studio, Failure arrived with something like 26 songs which she had purposely not demoed in advance. “I am usually a lot more organized but I wanted to see what would happen if Tony and I just demoed the songs as we went along which was really a neat experience – but I’m not sure I would do it like this again.”
Promoted initially as a band that carried the banner for the alternative punk rock movement when Die Mannequin arrived on the scene in 2006, causing a sensation when they debuted at that summer’s Edgefest event in Toronto, Die Mannequin has never really been a band, more like a duo with Failure and long-term bassist Anthony Bleed. Failure actually recorded all the vocals, bass and guitar parts for her debut 2006 EP , `How To Kill” and has worked with several musicians. The band which recorded her last album, 2009’s `Fino + Bleed’, featuring bassist Stacy Stray and drummer Dagger Scott, departing before Neon Zero was released.
“A lot of guys I toured with couldn’t handle my persona,” admitted Failure. “They couldn’t come to terms with this five foot five inch walking pussy of a person that I really am. I have had a real problem keeping a band together. It’s almost an impossible job trying to deal with four or five A-type personalities. It’s kind of like stick them all in a tiny closet, fuel them with alcohol and watch the problems ensue”.
Add to this, the fact that Failure virtually writes the entire band’s material herself. “It would be nice if I had a sparring partner to bounce my ideas off and it’s frustrating at times when it all comes from me,” notes Failure. “I know I can be a sarcastic m***** f*****, there’s always a wink and a nod in my lyrics. “I wish I could be a better story teller like Bob Dylan but I very rarely slip outside of myself when it comes to writing material.
Neon Zero, Die Mannequin’s latest opus, still released on her own `How To Kill’ label but now distributed by eOne Entertainment, is full of Failure’s admitted sarcasm, from the album title, Neon Zero gleaned from lyrics in one track “Murder On The Dancefloor” “I don’t like cookie cutter heroes. I’d rather be a protagonist who is not perfect” admits Failure. “There’s a line in that song that goes, ‘I’d rather be a neon zero than a shitty hero.”
When asked to describe Die Mannequin’s music, Failure’s tongue-in-cheek response is to call it EDM, `evil demon music’, although she allows that her music’s structure is that of a glorified rock band with no pretext of carrying the banner for punk or any other movement.
She admits to being under intense pressure since signing a publishing contract with EMI at the age of just 14 years old. Having virtually recorded her band’s debut `How To Kill” as a solo effort, Failure assembled a band to play the 2006 Edgefest concert, to glowing reviews which earned her, an opening spot for Guns N Roses Eastern Canada dates later that summer.
The release of a follow up EP, `Slaughter Daughter’ with two tracks produced by Billy Talent’s Ian D’Sa further boosted the band’s profile in 2007, both EP’s being combined into one studio record titled `Unicorn Steak’ in 2008.
Die Mannequin found a fan in top Canadian movie producer Bruce McDonald who first agreed to produce a video for “Saved By Strangers” off the band’s Slaughter Daughter EP and then focused a filmed documentary on the band, titled “Rawside Of Die Mannequin” which was premiered at the 2006 North by North East music conference.
McDonald then went on to shoot the highly successful Hard Core Logo movie in 2009, making a star out of Headstones front man Hugh Dillon, who has since established himself as a bona fide television personality (Durham County, Flashpoint).
When McDonald decided to shoot a sequel to Hard Core Logo, he contacted Care about taking the lead in his follow-up 2009 Hard Core Logo 2. The premise being that McDonald, wracked with guilt that his documentary on the legendary Canadian band, Hard Core Logo had resulted in front man Joe Dick (Hugh Dillon) shooting himself in front of the cameras, decided to interview Failure, playing herself, who claimed she had inherited the spirit of Joe Dick.
“I am no actor, I never claimed to be but I did enjoy the experience,” reflected Failure. It was kind of terrifying, they wanted me to play a version of myself only someone who was super slutty and super moody. Most of the script was improvised but there were a couple of key lines that I had to remember. Hey, I got to be in a movie, it was a lot of fun and I got paid! Bruce was such an amazing person to work for. He made things a lot more fun than they were supposed to be.”
Re-energized by Die Mannequin’s lay-off, Failure is in the process of rehearsing a new band with bassist Anthony Bleed and has a sights set on a return to touring with potential dates in Europe targeted for next spring. “We’ve always gone down big in Europe, we have a big following over there,” reports Failure. The band having opened for Danko Jones during a 2008 jaunt.
“We have a new management team, a new record label and a re-commitment to the band,” affirmed Failure. “Yes we’ve been away for a few years but I don’t think we’ve missed anything. “I have never in the past felt an affinity to any particular scene. If anything, I am trying to drag the guitar into electronic music. It’s tricky but I know it can be done.”
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