Juno Q&A: Care Failure of Die Mannequin

Rock star Care Failure on her Juno debut and her evolution from garbage-bag attire to rock-star style.

Die Mannequin, Care Failure, Juno

Photo by Michael Hurcomb

If the walls of the dingy grey concrete green room at Toronto concert venue The Opera House could talk, they’d say “hey” to their old friend Care Failure. The lead singer of rock band Die Mannequin is only 24, but she’s been backstage at the venue for nearly a decade. At 16, she spent a night hanging out here with metal band Pantera where she says guitarist Dimebag Darrel tried to kill her. She spent two days hiding out from Hell’s Angels that time. Hopefully there will be less drama at tonight’s show.

It’s the weekend of the Junos, where Die Mannequin is nominated for two awards: New Group of the Year and Rock Album of the Year. Even though they’ll go on to lose, it’s a much-needed shot of encouragement after what Care calls “the hardest year.” “These are the nice little things that make it worth while, even though they’re kind of lame and you probably have to pay for them to win,” she says.

Sitting on her legs on the ratty couch, Care chain-smokes Native Spirit cigarettes, stamping the lipstick-smacked butts out on the floor as she talks being nominated for a Juno, going to rehab, and her fashion evolution from garbage-bag attire to rock-star style.

Where were you when you found out you were nominated?

They invite you to this press conference and when I went I was like, “Do they just invite random people and then as a joke be like, ‘ha ha! psych! You’re not nominated you’re just here’?” That’s kind of what I thought was going on. And it was like, no, you came to get something.

You said this was the hardest year of your career.

It’s been the hardest year for me for sure. There was a crumbling team around us [Die Mannequin has recently split from their record label at Warner]. Everything that you could think of that could go bad in the cliché, Behind The Music, [announcer voice] “this is where it all went bad,” all that kind of crazy sh-t and rumours and whatnot. The way I act onstage, I have a wild stage thing that I do, and some people think that’s the way I am all the time, or they’ve heard about my tumultuous past or drug use, and they think that has to be me now. So it’s been really hard to escape that.

I read you’d gone to rehab, which is obviously a huge personal step. What do you say to people who are skeptical about your sobriety?

They ask how was rehab, and I say “the food was okay.” Some people they totally get it and see that’s a totally hard thing to do and that’s a big step, and other people, the words “rehab” and “drugs” scare them and they don’t even see the point that you’re trying to better yourself. But that was when I was 18 and now I’m almost 25. It was a long time ago.

How would you describe your personal style?

Pants-optional. I love a big orange or red lip. I love getting all my tights at American Apparel. I get all my tights there. Aritzia I’m kind of a sucker for, especially this season cuz it’s kinda grungey and it’s got this weird kind of nativey, Navaho sh-t. When I was a kid I wore garbage bags and duct tape clothing. So now I’m like, I have a style?