16 BIT SESSIONS #10: Die Mannequin – Sucker Punch

16 BIT SESSIONS is where James tries to figure out all this Mega Drive music business by covering songs and trying out different sounds. This time, it’s a cover of Sucker Punch by Die Mannequin from Toronto.

MANDATORY PLUG UP TOP: Holy crap you guys our next show is on Monday! It’s free! It’s at the Horseshoe Tavern. You should come!

Die Mannequin is a band I first heard of in 2013 when the band I play guitar and sing backing for, SuXess, was asked to support at the Horseshoe Tavern when they played in April. We were excited to book the show, but I – especially still being fairly new to Canada and Canadian rock music – had only heard a couple of tracks and felt the need to delve into their catalogue further. Almost immediately their music appealed – kickass frontwoman, loud production, killer songs like Candide and Do It Or Die. Honestly, Candide’s chorus is one of my absolute favourites.

The show came during a difficult part of my Canadian tenure – I was battling the immigration system at the cost of a lot of my patience and sanity, I was overweight from the stress and I had just returned from a whirlwind of a trip back home for my wonderful sister’s wedding that involved visiting something like 5 cities in 6 days. But the gig was a pleasure, Care Failure, Anthony and the rest of Die Mannequin were nothing but lovely and accommodating in the brief exchanges we shared and the crowd were one of the best I’ve ever played to. Amid the uncertainty and anxiety of immigration – would we get kicked out back to England? Was it worth the fight? – I felt very lucky, and it helped to carry me through. And now look at me! Back to normal, whatever the fuck that means, and able to deliver these weirdo covers to you guys. Worth it.

Neon Zero marks a stylistic change towards a more electronic sound and as a result is one of my favourite albums of 2014 – in part because of how all-in and crazy this new direction is. Some purist punk/hard rock fans on YouTube or cried sellout because there’s electronics involved, but that’s what those types of fans do for fun. And while I’ve heard this song a fair amount on The Edge, calling this direction a sellout is madness. It feels like a very honest foray into synthesizers that, for the most part, works great and is catchy as fuck. Since we’re a band that also likes to mix the more raw sounds of rock music with electronics and such, this move is super encouraging!

This song almost feels structured like a video game soundtrack – there’s movements and riffs that repeat, but always in different combinations. The vocal line has some brilliant harmonies that soar in square wave form. I got to use my favourite low-end bass voices again, I got to experiment with sidechains for the rap verses and those “dist guitar” presets sound excellent when it kicks in to the really heavy bridge towards the end.

Here’s the original:

That’s TEN COVERS DONE. I was gonna be done so I could release them as a free album on Bandcamp in time for the Horseshoe show. But when I was programming this one I found another I wanna do before I stop. QUANTITY OVER QUALITY. That’s how it works, right?

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