Interview – Die Mannequin

As the band just capped off a monumental year and are gearing up for dates across the globe, singer/guitarist Care Failure was able to shed some light on her plans for 2010 and what it’s like to be a musician in Toronto.

© Sara Collaton

Care Failure; is that a name you chose or a name you earned?

I was born Care Failure. I was born into the Failure family.
There’s a short documentary called City Sonic about your love for radio. What sort of a radio listener were you growing up?

I would call in at night and get free concert tickets and call in and try to make them play Sonic Youth songs they didn’t have. I would always stay up all night listening to the radio.
After years of listening to 102.1 the Edge as a loyal fan, what was it like hearing your music on that station?

Oh, that’s always cool. I love radio, so when I heard myself on there it was one of those full circle moments. It seems like one of the more blessed things that have happened to us.

Bruce McDonald, a Canadian filmmaker (Hardcore Logo, Pontypool) with a reputation as a rock and roll director was the one who was behind that episode of City Sonic. Did he know about your music as he was shooting? Had you seen any of his work?

Yeah, I had seen his work. We knew each other, and we have kept working together since then. Me and him are about to get to work on a top secret project. It’s something I haven’t really done before.
You’ve said some artists that really inspired you were the Pixies and Sonic Youth, is it a coincidence that you were drawn to rock bands that, at least some of the time, had female vocalists?

It’s no coincidence. When I was younger I started looking around to try and find some female entities in rock. I got into PJ Harvey, and actually one artist I really like now is Alison Mosshart of The Kills – but things were pretty barren for female singers. It’s a lot easier now for young girls who are into rock to find inspiration. I’d be happy to be able to say I helped out in that way.
You’ve toured in support of bands like Buckcherry, Guns N’ Roses, and Marilyn Manson – what sort of relationship do you have with headlining bands while on tour?

Every band’s totally different. Some have been very open and some have been sort of secluded. You don’t know their story, or how their day has been. I mean with Marilyn Manson or with Axl Rose, who has been under more public scrutiny than them? I don’t want to try and pry into anyone’s lives.

How do you decide on the visuals you put with your albums? Do lyrics from songs on the album inspire the art or does imagery you have in your mind inspire your lyrics?

I do all the art for the band. The t-shirts and every panel on the CDs. Inspirations? It’s weird. It’s like the chicken and the egg. People say you should write what you know, but there are some great storytellers out there like Neil Young or Bob Dylan who can really tell stories in their songs beyond things they’ve actually experienced. I’ve been learning how to do that myself from them. For example, there’s a song on the new album called “Suffer”, about being locked up and institutionalized and then turning the tables on the doctors and nurses, and holding them hostage – that sort of point-of-view.
How have you found Toronto, or Ontario as a whole, when it comes to your touring?

When we’re away, we get homesick. Ontario is amazing to us – it’s our home. We have a lot of fans all across the province. We’ve got the good ones. They’re crazier than us and that is really saying something.
What sort of a community is there between Toronto musicians? You’ve recorded with people like Jesse Keeler (MSTRKRFT), Ian D’Sa (Billy Talent) and Raine Maida, but would you ever see all of these artists together having a beer at one of their apartments?

There are some times, like during North by Northeast in the past, EMI has thrown a barbecue where artists could hang out together.
There’s a rapper, formerly of Degrassi: The Next Generation fame, who said that Toronto is known as ‘the screwface capital’ because it doesn’t always support its own artists. He was describing the hip hop community – but how is that different with rock?

Well yeah, that’s true – the urban community is not as developed as you’d like it to be. But in rock, it’s just like anything. You do well and you start getting enemies. That’s just how it goes.

According to a blog on your band’s MySpace, not one, but two of your band’s guitars were decapitated during the last show of your 2009 tour. What was going on at that show? What sort of a setback is losing equipment like that?

On Monday (Jan. 11) the body count rose to three. I was practicing a song when I noticed my guitar was making a weird noise. One of the frets came out. But at that show it was just debauchery. The same as everyday. It can be tough when shit like that happens.
Before April, 2010 you’ll literally circle the world. What’s it like flipping through a calendar and seeing dates in the U.S., UK, China and Japan?

It’s pretty cool. We’ve never been to Japan or China – and it’s hard to get to China! We’re also excited about getting to Germany and all the Scandinavian countries. Last time we were in Europe our driver was a history buff and would point out attractions to us as we drove. That’s the fun part. Other times, touring Canada you’ll just see, “Oh, there’s a truck stop”, “There’s a Tim Hortons”. It all depends on the tour.

We’ll also be on the Warped Tour down in California and Texas for the whole west coast leg I believe. We’re lucky they asked us because can’t make it out for the whole thing. It’s during the summer and that’s when everyone’s touring. All the festivals in Europe are happening too and we can’t miss those this year.

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