Interview with Care Failure of Die Mannequin - August 26th, 2009
Conducted Saturday August 26th 2009 by Mike Bax
Press pictures provided by Warner Canada
Live shots by Mike Bax
Over the past two years I’ve written a few times about Die Mannequin including their local live shows; a few album reviews; and some interviews. Die Mannequin are a Toronto-based sleaze-rock band I find particularly captivating. If I had to put my finger on the appeal, I think it would be a mixture of the music, their stage presence and Care’s in-person presence that sell Die Mannequin for me.
Care can come off as a bit aloof... like she’s already an established rock star well into her career. Her raspy voice mixed in with a too-cool-for-school demeanor could be a turn-off to would-be interviewers. But, just when you think she’s phoning it in… Care will come back with an answer to a question that shows she’s not only paying attention to everything you are asking her, but that she’s got something to say on the topic at hand as well.
On September 8th, Die Mannequin will release their debut album Fino + Bleed (Reviewed HERE). Early-birds who get in on pre-orders will get a copy of the Bruce McDonald filmed Rawside Of Die Mannequin – a fifty minute segment that aired on television this past year on DVD with the album.
With a very recent announcement that Die Mannequin will do a round of opening dates for Marilyn Manson in September – they are certainly off and running on what will be a lengthy and interesting journey bringing Fino + Bleed to the masses.
Failure took a few minutes to chat with me about recording the new album, filming a video in the desert at camp (Josh) Homme and their upcoming tour with Manson. Tour dates with Manson in September are as follows:
8 Sep 2009 - Save On Foods, Victoria, British Columbia
10 Sep 2009 - Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, Calgary, Alberta
11 Sep 2009 - Shaw Conference Centre, Edmonton, Alberta
13 Sep 2009 - MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba
17 Sep 2009 - Air Canada Centre Toronto, Ontario
19 Sep 2009 - John Labatt Centre, London, Ontario
20 Sep 2009 - Scotiabank Place, Ottawa, Ontario
22 Sep 2009 - Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec
23 Sep 2009 - Pavillion de la Jeunesse, Quebec City, Quebec
25 Sep 2009 - Metro Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia
26 Sep 2009 - Moncton Coliseum, Moncton, New Brunswick
Care Failure: Hey Mike.
Mike: Hey how are you doing Care?
Care: Not bad.
Mike: How are things?
Care: Better now that I’m talking to you.
Mike: I was just watching the video for “Bad Medicine” online. It was all filmed down south in the desert?
Care: Yeah, we actually went to the ranch where Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal have a studio, you know, out in the desert. They let us come down and use Eagles of Death Metal’s cars; we turned the white one into a police car. We brought some porn stars down and the local bikers and we made this video around there. It was a lot of fun.
Mike: It was a pretty high quality looking video, I liked it a lot.
Care: You like it?
Mike: I thought it looked really cool.
Care: Right on. It’s really bright, but I love the clouds. I was hoping people could really feel the desert but it was dark at first and I was like, ‘Aw man, I really like the brighter one”. But I’m really happy with it, I love working with Sean (Littlejohn) the director, we worked with him before on “Do it or Die”.
Mike: I liked the end credit there to Martin Streek as well; I thought that was pretty tasteful.
Care: Oh yeah, of course. When we filmed it, it was the night of the full moon, that last month and that was the night that he passed, was during our filming day. I guess it was the night before technically I guess, but nobody told me during the shoot but then they told me after. I wish they would have told me, it would have made me feel more…it would have given me a few things to think about. But it’s a big thing.
Care: I mean he is just so ‘up there’ for me, especially with his live stuff filmed at the bar.
Care: There’s this bar out in the desert we were in and all the locals, like the people that run it, were talking about how Martin Streek was there two weeks before. Just hanging out with them, it was… just heartbreaking.
Mike: Did you go into the studio with all the material written for “Fino + Bleed”?
Care: Yeah, pretty much. Like it was really strange because we were on the road and pretty busy and you’d think that if we were going to put this full-length record release out I’d have tons of time to write beforehand and get ready. I had pretty much a month to get my demos together and during that month I got my laptop stolen with all my ideas that were lost on it.
Care: So basically we had a couple weeks and did a real snap shot in time of me writing songs. While I was doing vocals you can only sing for six or seven hours before you start to really wear out your voice. We have the instruments brought in the morning and then we do vocals all night. It was kind of chaotic but it had to get done.
Mike: Was the material crafted spur of moment in the studio where you just kind of belted something out or did it have a skeleton beforehand?
Care: Yeah, to me it was all done beforehand. I’m not the one to just shoot things on, I have to know what’s on the record and then you record way more than you can put on the record. There are a lot of songs I loved that didn’t make it on the record, and a lot of songs that are on the record that I love too but…
Mike: Is there record still on How To Kill (record label owned by Care Failure) or is it a Warner (Bros. records) release?
Care: It’s a Warner release, I just own the label How label To Kill Music to distribute music and distribute bands, like everyone on the Die Mannequin label. It’s more for the community and my friends, you know?
(Care laughs a bit)
Care: Especially in Toronto and bigger cities, it’s more about friendship and community and not a back-stabbing scene that pretends to be a scene. You know?
Mike: Yeah. Do you care that “Miss Americvnt” (pronounced “Miss Americunt”, a track off the new album “Fino + Bleed”) won’t get any radio play because of the title and lyrics, was that cognoscente when you were putting it together?
Care: You know it’s funny, I think I say ‘cunt’ eleven times in that song.
(They laugh for a moment)
Care: They wanted it to be the first single.
Mike: Is that right?
Care: They had like a backwards thing where the artist is going, “Please no” and the label is going, “yes”, and I wrote that at a different time when (George W.) Bush was in government and people who don’t know this band is (Die Mannequin) might take it the wrong way. But yeah, I’m totally serious, I think it’s a great song and we do have edited versions of it and I think a great viral video will put an end to that.
Mike: It’ll be a challenge to put it on (the radio) as it stands now, you’ll have to bleep it or put a sound effect over it because the masses won’t be able to take it.
(they laugh again)
Care: Yeah, it’s an obvious edit; we should make it silent so you can tell there’s a real nasty word there. Apparently you can’t say “cunt” eleven times on Much Music or the radio.
Mike: I don’t think you can even say it once!
(They laugh together)
Mike: How was working on the album in L.A. for you guys?
Care: We love L.A. and it depends on the people you know and meet, if you visit their city it makes you love them. I’m half American and I love cities in Canada and I love Chicago and I mean it’s a chance for us to grow and travel. I love to be out of my surroundings and where I’m living is a piece of shit so anything’s an upgrade. It would really help me concentrate on what I was doing.
Mike: Is there any significant difference for you other than location for recording than say anywhere in Canada?
Care: Even in Canada when we’re recording downtown we have rules like our friends can’t come by and just hang. It’s just the rules 101 with recording; it’s just the first way to never get anything done. But there’s a great studio just outside of Toronto where Billy Talent, Cancer Bats and Three Days Grace have all recorded records there and it’s just out of reach of the masses.
Mike: Of the twelve songs that are on “Fino + Bleed”, did any of them present any unique challenges that you can share while you were putting them together?
Care: Yeah, of course. The concept alone behind “Fino + Bleed” is about being together and Anthony (Bleed, the bassist in Die Mannequin) and I have been together, I guess in November it’ll be about six years. I’ve gone through a lot as a kid and as an adult now, I’ve been kind of guiding those feelings. Like the song “Suffer” is about being locked up in an institution and just that feeling and my real thoughts. In the story it’s a that patient has to deal with these doctors, a lobotomy, and shock treatment while they’re trying to hold him hostage. So there’s a bit of exaggeration, but it started off with the concept but it started getting bigger and louder and I just tried to flexible and write lyrics that were crazy for me. I think I love that kind weird pressure where I know it’s alive, but secretly and not tell anyone because then they’ll make you work extra hard.
(Care laughs for a moment)
Care: I mean every drum hit on that record I wrote, every note, it was a huge undertaking.
Mike: Do you tend to set goals for yourself as an artist? Do you have a benchmark of where you want to be at a certain time and how you want to see your band progress?
Care: I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m not smart enough to set goals or anything like that.
(Mike and Care laugh together)
Care: But I know we’re really too busy to celebrate the moment because we’re always thinking about what’s next and what we’re doing next and it’s great for now. Like we got the Marilyn Manson tour next month for a couple weeks and we’re excited but we’re always thinking about what’s next. Especially when we’re on tour - you never seem to get time to take pictures and celebrate or anything like that. We’ re always like, “What’s next? What’s bigger and better?” Especially when there’s team announcements and travelling, it makes it more chaotic.
Mike: I think the Manson opening slot is pretty cool, I’m really looking forward to seeing you on that bill.
Care: Yeah, the Antichrist huh?
Mike: Yeah, I like to call him Satan. You’re opening for Satan.
Care: It’s really cool that he hand-picked us. Satan warms my heart.
Mike: That is very cool. I was happy that the studio version of “Open Season” made it on to the album. Was it like a last minute addition or did you know you were going to put that on?
Care: A couple of folks at the label loved it. I told you before I write the lyrics last minute so I think of it right before, I sing the songs live all the time but even for “Do It or Die” it was the same thing. It was cool to be able flesh that out and write a bigger chorus, a better chorus for it.
Mike: When I play “Fino + Bleed” through it sounds sequenced and mixed where “Guns Not Bombs” is the last song and “Open Season” on there is like a bonus track.
Care: Yeah, I guess you could see it like that, I kind of wanted it to begin and include intros and interludes, and even more interludes and a lot of crazy shit that didn’t get the ok. But the major (label’s) most important thing was that it had an insane sort of intensity but it has a flow at the same time. But it’s kind of hard to do that when one side of you wants to just bang everything out and keep their (audiences) attention and the other side wants to make it this cohesive roller coaster ride. I had to settle with it in the end, the sequence was really hard for me honestly. The songs that didn’t make the record we’ll still play live.
Mike: You’ve now delivered a full studio album and it’s good and you’re now going on tour with Marilyn Manson, what’s next for you as far as getting Die Mannequin out to the masses?
Care: I guess we will work on increasing our territory. We’re going to Europe a lot, like Germany and Scandinavia way too much, they really love us and get Die Mannequin a lot. Japan now has “Unicorn Steak” (the band’s combined EPs released in 2008).
Mike: This question is kind of subjective, but if you had to bet on one song from “Fino + Bleed” becoming a crowd pleaser, what song would you pick?
Care: Holy crap dude, that’s so hard when you’re the one doing it. I love “Bad Medicine” for so many reasons, it’s a really different song for me to write, but I like it because it was a challenge to me. So was “Miss Americvnt” as well, I don’t know, what do you think? I’d love to know what you think?
Mike: Me personally?
Care: Yeah, you.
Mike: I seem to play “Locking Elizabeth” a lot and I like “Caroline Mescaline” as well. But I’m not very good at picking out singles, I don’t generally listen to singles, I listen to albums, but if it’s a good song or it’s got a great melody then that’s from the gut. I’m pretty organic when it comes to listening to music.
Care: Yeah, “Locking Elizabeth” is a song I really had to practice because I’m in a three-piece (group) and I’m the only guitarist so I had to really play the hell out of that one. But yeah, I can see the crowd loving it, I’d put my money on that one.
Mike: Are you going to go out as a four piece when you go out on the tour or is it going to be a drummer, you and Anthony?
Care: Yeah, this is the first time where we go out as a four-piece with my friends and it’s kind of exciting to watch them get excited because they’ve never been out before. We were drumming with Jack Irons (ex-Red Hot Chili Pepper and ex-Pearl Jam drummer) who did drums on the record, he kind of like extended his hand until he found who he wanted. He went to Germany and played with us and he’s just fuckin’ amazing. He’s a phenomenal drummer and now we have this guy named Daz whose just this gift from the gods, we love him.
Mike: Cool, you get photographed a lot with wearing retro Subhumans shirts. Are you a fan of old punk music?
Care: Yeah, maybe I just own don’t own too many t-shirts.
(They laugh together)
Care: I remember I got yelled at when I went out on stage wearing one. “Subhumans suck!” and I’m like, “Ok”.
Mike: They’ve been around forever!
Care: Lately I’ve been wearing an old Tones On Tail shirt, but it’s beginning to disintegrate so hopefully I find another cool one before that one falls apart.
Mike: I’ve got one more for you, what is the one thing you can’t live without when you’re on tour?
Care: Honestly, cigarettes and sleeping pills. One thing I can’t live without is sleep.
Mike: Cool, well thanks for taking the time. I’m totally going to check you out in London with Manson and look forward to hearing the new material live.
Care: Yeah! Thank you so much, it’s really kind.
Mike: No problem. Take it easy.
Care: You too man.