Die Mannequin is a punk rock band from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, formed in 2005, by Care Failure (vocals, guitar). Care (born Caroline Kawa) was joined, soon after, by Anthony ‘Useless’ Bleed (bass), then later by Stacy Stray (guitar) and Dazzer Scott (drums) of the band’s current lineup. I stumbled upon Die Mannequin on last.fm, which is a cool place to find new bands similar to bands you already love, and fell into my full-on obsession mode with Care and her band’s brand of addictive, hard-rockin’ punk. I was drawn to Care Failure. Something about her had a powerful and irresistable effect on me. Care is like Courtney Love with black hair (and Canadian), in appearance and attitude, and, thus, she’s also like Brody Dalle, my favorite femme punker. But, Die Mannequin sounds nothing like Hole or The Distillers. Anyway, the obsession mode, like always, was temporary but, once again, this band became one of my favorites.
Die Mannequin‘s debut EP, “How To Kill,” was released in 2006, but Care didn’t actually have a band, so she sang and played bass and guitar, with a session drummer. Surprisingly, these 4 tracks are some of Care’s best work. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be “Near the End,” followed by “Donut Kill Self,” then “Autumn Cannibalist” and “Fatherpunk.” Care recorded and released Die Mannequin‘s second EP, “Slaughter Daughter,” in 2007, with friends from another Toronto band, Kill Cheerleader (from which Anthony Bleed would later come). This EP had 5 more tracks with much better production, including an uncharacteristic, but excellent, ballad, “Upside Down Cross.” The lead track, “Do It Or Die,” was also the first single, and a video was subsequently produced. Watch that video here:
In 2008, both EP’s were released together on a single disc, “Unicorn Steak,” with two previously unreleased tracks. A video for “Saved By Strangers” was directed, for this release, by Canadian filmmaker Bruce McDonald, whose mockumentary Hard Core Logo (1996) was well received. McDonald also directed an episode of the IFC Canada series The Rawside of … (2008) featuring Die Mannequin, and cast Care Failure in his sequel to Hard Core Logo, appropriately titled Hard Core Logo II (2010). I’ll talk a little more about Care’s acting debut later. Watch the video for “Saved By Strangers” here:
“Fino + Bleed,” Die Mannequin‘s amazing first (official) full-length, was released in 2009. The first single, “Dead Honey,” co-written with Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace and his wife Chantal Kreviazuk, is a perfect balance of pop and punk, but it isn’t pop/punk. “Bad Medicine” is the closest Die Mannequin comes to straight up hard rock, with a melody so familiar I thought it was a cover (of what I didn’t know). It isn’t. “Miss Americvnt” (intentionally misspelled on the CD) is another addictive rocker that was co-written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance of Canadian hard rockers Harem Scarem (a great band, by the way). “Suffer” is a fictionalized account of Care Failure’s stay in a mental hospital. “Intruder” and “Where Poppies Grow” are cool, too, but my favorite track of all is the melodic rocker “Caroline Mescaline,” also co-written with Harry Hess. Watch videos from “Fino + Bleed” here:
In 2010, Care Failure starred in Bruce McDonald’s film Hard Core Logo II, which was a sequel to his acclaimed 1996 film, Hard Core Logo. The first film was an excellent mockumentary about the self-destruction of a once popular punk band, Hard Core Logo. In the end, singer Joe Dick kills himself on film. In the sequel, Care Failure, playing herself, claims to be channeling the spirit of Joe Dick. Hard Core Logo II was a disappointment, but Care looks amazing and the performances are cool. Die Mannequin released an EP, “Danceland,” to correspond with the film’s DVD release in 2012. “Candide,” from the previous release, is the standout track, but “The Other Tiffany” and “Away” are cool new tracks. Watch the video for “Candide,” directed by Bruce McDonald, and the trailer for Hard Core Logo II here:
OK, two side projects and I’m out! In 2006, Care Failure was a member of the Canadian supergroup, The Big Dirty Band, with Geddy Lee (bass) and Alex Lifeson (guitar) of Rush, among others. They recorded a cover of The Bobby Fuller Four‘s “I Fought The Law,” by way of The Clash, for the soundtrack to the movie Trailer Park Boys: The Movie (2006). And, in 2010, Care provided the vocal hook for Canadian rapper Peter Jackson’s “Ma’ma / Simple Man.” Both are pretty cool. Watch these videos here:
Website: Die Mannequin Official Website