Friday, October 9, 2009

Stolen Songs Can't Stop Die Mannequin

A knuckle sandwich to the face is probably the last thing anyone wants after a long day but for Die Mannequin, it's a mere bump in the road to rock stardom.

At only 22 years old, Care Failure (real name Caroline Kawa) has already gone from being dirt poor and playing on the streets in Toronto to signing a record deal and touring with some of her idols, including Guns N' Roses and Marilyn Manson.

As Die Mannequin's fearless leader, Failure has quickly become a poster girl for Canadian rock. She's not afraid of the pressure or challenges that come along with being in a major label band. Hell, stolen demos couldn't even stop her from getting the band's Fino + Bleed debut out on time.

CHARTAttack recently had a chance to talk to Failure about the hard work involved in making Die Mannequin's first full-length LP.

CHARTAttack: Fino + Bleed (pronounced "Fee-No-Plus-Bleed") is both an interesting and unconventional title. Where did it come from?
Care Failure: [Bassist Anthony "Useless"] Bleed is a member of the band and is my partner in crime. We've been together as a band for six years in November. It's an amazing coincidence that I can even remember this. One day we were in this shitty hotel in Washington he found a good spot to write it in the wall. They're sort of pet names we have for each other.

After six years, how does it feel to finally have a proper full-length record out?
There are definitely some good feelings. You know how the music industry is. It's always like "What's next!? What's next!?" and you never have time to slow down and take pictures. It's pretty good to have it out, though.

Are these the heaviest songs you've ever written?
I don't think of it in terms of heavier or lighter. It'd be pretty shitty if I got worse as a songwriter. I'm trying to become more bulletproof and dangerous. The sonic tone is huger than anything I've done. I'll always give you something heavy, but I wanted to show what other songs I could write, too.

Industry pressure aside, what challenges did the band face while making this disc?
There's always so much shit. Anything and everything. Everything I had written and demoed got stolen, like, two weeks before it was due. That alone was huge.

The biggest challenge was getting every drum part and every note right. Going through that process for 20 songs is a lot harder than going through it for four or five. I really wanted the listener to go on a journey with it and listen to the album in full and wanted it to keep their attention.

Matt Hyde produced the album. How awesome was it to work with the guy who produced Slayer?
[laughing] I hate him! No, he's amazing. I can't say a bad word about him. He goes beyond the call of duty. We have this weird connection like we've been at this for years together. He even brought me back in to coach with some of the other bands he was working with.

He goes far and wide beyond what producers need to do, and he does that for everybody. He's addicted to people's talent. It's endless.

Do producers still play an important role in the success of an album?
It's less of the producers these days.

Back when you had Zeppelin and The Beatles, you had six or seven records to get it right. These days, you have one shot to get it right. You're supposed to have it right on your first record. There are a lot of people that don't understand the importance of developing a band in the early stages.

Fino + Bleed was supposed to be out two weeks before it actually hit shelves. Why the delay?
It's actually because we wanted to release it with the DVD of the band (The Rawside Of... Die Mannequin, directed by Bruce McCulloch). It just got nominated for two Gemini Awards, so that was good enough reason for us. I think we might be one of the first bands to put out a full documentary on their first CD.

Now that the record is finally out, what's next for Die Mannequin? A new single? Another video?
I guess those are the things bands do these days. There's a song called "Dead Honey" that might be the next single. There's a lot of talk that goes around and a lot of ideas as well. I have complete creative control and you always want to talk things through. You sign with a label because you want their experience, but it's a team effort. It's also a giant machine.

So would it be fair to say you don't always see eye to eye with the machine?
Yeah, we fight all the time. You can't agree all the time.

That's why the album has two different covers. I made a cover that I love, and sometimes when you make something you love, it scares people. You have to pay your dues until you get more respect. Sometimes I have to put my foot down. It's a funny relationship, but nobody agrees with each other all the time.

Trevor Morelli

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