Posted On 16 Jun 2017
DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL (Chris Carrabba (vocals, guitar), Scott Schoenbeck (bass), Armon Jay (guitar, keys) and Ben Homola (drums)) will be hitting the road once again this summer on a cross-country trek. In tow for the long haul will be The All-American Rejects with The Maine and The Social Animals splitting the opening slot. The tour kicks off at OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, CA on July 13th and will conclude on August 15th in Highland Park, IL.
In addition, Dashboard Confessional has once again partnered with CID Entertainment to offer VIP Experiences on tour. Both levels of VIP feature a private performance and Q&A with Dashboard Confessional and a custom tour lithograph signed by Chris Carrabba. Top tier packages include a photo opportunity with Chris Carrabba backstage. View full package details here: http://www.cidentertainment.com/events/dashboard-confessional-tour-2017
After the release of their debut album 2000’s “Swiss Army Romance,” Dashboard Confessional, the solo moniker for Chris Carrabba, gained the loyalty of fans through his honest heartfelt lyrics. The following year, Carrabba entered the studio to record “The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most,” the follow-up to their critically acclaimed debut. As a result of the sudden success of his second solo effort, Dashboard Confessional exploded and was everywhere from MTV to VH1 to MTV2 to magazine covers (Spin, Alternative Press, Guitar World Acoustic).
By 2002 three other musicians had joined the band and Carrabba was asked to perform on MTV Unplugged and the subsequent live release marked the first time that many of the songs were recorded with a full band. Later that year, the band’s first breakout single “Screaming Infidelities” off of “The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most” won the MTV2 Award at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards. Their third studio album “A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar” peaked at #2 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart and was certified gold by RIAA. The band went on to release three more albums (“Dusk and Summer,” “The Shade of Poison Trees” and “Alter the Ending”) over the next six years.
To date, Dashboard Confessional has three RIAA certified gold-selling albums (“Swiss Army Romance,” “The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most,” “A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar”) and has had numerous songs featured on TV and in movies.
Learn more about Dashboard Confessional in the following in-depth All Access interview with Chris Carrabba:
Is it hard to believe that you’ve been making music for, I think it is, around 18 years in this band? Is it kind of surreal sometimes?
It’s pretty wild. You fall in love with something as a teenager, and it’s this funny thing where you’re so bullheaded that you’ll work tremendously hard before you have the skill. Or at least in the case of me and most of my friends, the drive just came ahead of the skill, and I think that was the luckiest thing that ever happened to those of us that came up in my scene, or the friends of mine I’m thinking of now. Because I think if we were as skilled as we would become, or maybe some of our friends were already, we might have never developed the drive and we would be very happily playing guitar after work now. But because we were part of this real very young youth-driven scene, it all seemed plausible; having a career didn’t seem plausible, but making music and being able to play in front of people seemed totally likely. Why not?
Becoming famous or getting on the radio or having songs in movies or whatever? No, not at all. Never. But getting a chance to play in the dirtiest basements and the worst clubs in America? Yeah, that was a gleaning dream that was attainable.
Wow, that’s incredible. It’s cool that you can look back and remember all of those feelings so vividly, despite it being a while ago.
Yeah, I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, because recently, I went to the last date on the Newfound Glory 20th anniversary tour.
We all grew up together, and I was just another teenage idiot standing in the audience while Jordan was reading his lyrics off lots of pieces of paper on the floor at their very first show. And so I was at their first show and 20 years later, I’m watching a band that’s still young playing their 20th anniversary. There’s a benefit to starting that young and being that … I don’t know how to explain it, but that was the real lottery win. Because now, our careers are farther along enough and we’re still young enough to be able to be doing this.
And we’re still young enough that we’re consistently wowed that we’re still able to do this. So we’re physically able, we’re still young enough that we wouldn’t be grumpy about doing it. It’s incredible. It’s really incredible.
Speaking of, these tours are pretty intense. How do you keep up the energy night after night and bring it? For every audience, you have to bring it. So how do you keep it all up?
When I was a kid, my family called me Soda Pop. They got it from “The Outsiders,” because I always looked like a de-shelved greaser in secondhand clothes, which I was in secondhand clothes and all that. But they used to say I was like when you shake up a soda pop bottle and then you take the top off. That was me, that moment was me. Just ready to jump up and down at any minute.
But I’m real outdoors-y. And I love exercise and all that stuff, so I guess it helps that I do a lot of things that are physical away from the stage.
So when I get to the stage, the physicality of it is not something that’s ever taxing.
I was reading about the VIP experience that you guys are offering, and I think it’s such a cool thing to offer fans, like this intimate behind-the-scenes opportunity. And you did this last year as well, last summer, for fans as well too?
This will be third time we have done the VIP experience treatment. It’s like getting to do the kind of shows we did in the old days, before we go out and do our big show.
I’ll play songs mainly from my earliest records, but not that exclusively. I’ll really play anything anybody asks me too, time permitted.
And I’ll get to stand there and interact with the audience in a small area. All the best parts about the early days of my career were about being close, physically close, to the fans. And that’s obviously hard to do when you’re playing a giant amphitheater, or a fair, or a festival, or an arena.
So I found a way to replicate, just to put my own show on. My own tiny club show before the show. We sit around, have a couple drinks with my fans, and maybe get to hear some stories about their lives.
Maybe answer some questions. I like when they ask me about … well, I really like them to ask me about anything. It’s always funny though. I say, “Does anybody have any questions?” Nobody says anything, they freeze. And I’m like, “Well let me start.”
After that, it seems to go pretty easily.
Have you been in all of these venues before that you’re touring this summer, or any new stops?
I think we’ve been to almost all of them. Yeah, I think I’ve played them all, in some fashion or another.
Is it exciting to be going on this tour with the All-American Rejects? Have you been fans of theirs for a while?
Fans and friends of them. So yeah, this is an exciting time. We’re already been spending so much time together and on the phone and texting since we decided to do the tour together that we’re pretty well ahead of the tour. It already feels like we’re on tour together.
I think Tyson (All American Rejects Lead Vocalist) and I talk every day or every other day. Nick (AAR Lead Guitarist) lives here in town and not far from where I live. We’re working on little ideas of how to do make this tour feel the way it already feels to us.
So we’re brainstorming it. I’m a fan of them, I’m a massive fan, and it’s nice to know that they’re fans of ours. But way more important than that, at least to me, is that we’re friends. We get to go out with people that you care about. Spend a couple of months criss-crossing America.
I can’t think of anything better. That’s what people get a chance to do maybe once in their life. I get a chance to do it every summer.
I’m curious about your voice; you have such a distinct and recognizable voice. So I’m wondering, how have you maintained it? Is there anything that you do special to take care of it?
Yeah, I guess so. I push that voice pretty darn hard. Which I think is what makes it recognizable. I don’t treat it with kid gloves, but I respect it enough. The craft of singing-there are guidelines.
If you want to be able to go up there and scream your brains out, you’re going to have to adhere to a certain kind of schedule during your day.
You’re going to have to swear off things you like ice cream. And you’re going to have to do your hour warm-up before the show, before anything actually. I do it first thing in the morning. And I like to sing several times a day, during a pre-show thing.
I don’t know. I trust it’s going to be there when I need it.
Here’s the deal- I do my best for all the things that you learn about being a trained singer. And then I throw it all away on stage and say, “Tomorrow’s show doesn’t matter tonight. It matters tomorrow.” And so I just give it all. I think it’s strange, it’s when I start trying to protect it, because I think, “Well, I have three more shows in a row. I have six more shows, I have eight more shows in a row.” Not, “Whatever it is.” That’s when I get in trouble. When I say, “I’ve got tonight’s show,” I’m okay.
You’ve been in the music industry for a great number of years, and you’ve seen it transform. How do you think that that has influenced you and how you make music and how you face this industry?
I don’t know how the music industry has changed or has changed how I write music. It certainly has changed the way, or maybe legitimized the way I make the records.
Because from a very early stage, I started recording myself on a four-track cassette tape recording multi-tracks. But then with a digital 12-track. But a hard-track based version of just a cassette, where there’s no editing functions or anything like that. And then later, Pro-Tools and learning how to engineer and all that stuff. And I did that because I enjoy it, but with every one of my records, I’ve had songs that I recorded that the producer that we’ve hired to make the record has said, “You beat us on this one.” And that’s not necessarily about the quality of the recording was always worse, but the thing it captured was better.
So I started learning how to record better and better, so that the quality of the recording, if I captured the moment was better. The quality would be up to speed. And the way the industry has changed, people making their own records has become very acceptable. And of course, the home studio thing has exploded. Because it’s not prohibitively expensive to get this gear. By the way, it’s still not cheap, if you want to get the good gear. It’s still pretty darn expensive. But that’s changed for me.
Certainly the fact that people think music is free is a challenge for anyone that makes their living making music. My good friend Chris Cole is a professional skateboarder, he’s one of my top 5 of all time. And we always joke around and he says, “We’re so lucky to do what we do, that we make a living this way.” And I said, “Let’s hope nobody figures out how to download a skateboard deck on the Internet. That will change your industry a little bit.”
But that is what it is. It’s not like something anybody is railing against. I am certainly not railing against that, but certainly has it affected me or influenced me? Sure. When I started making music, there was this idea that an indie band could not make a substantial living, but you could sell your records and have a profit. And by the time Dashboard started, that was already almost gone.
And so you really cannot make a living by just selling your records anymore. There are always exceptions and of course there’s the mega acts. But I bet you it’s their least profitable revenue stream.
But the thing is, conversely, I don’t know that I care so much. Because what I care about is that people are connecting to the music I’ve made.
It sure is nice that I can pay my rent, pay my bills by playing music. I don’t know if that’s more important … I know that’s not as important to me as people connecting. And the fact that they are connecting to my music, because like I said earlier, that’s what I’d be doing after work, if I had a different job. This. It’s an overwhelming dream come true nonetheless.
What can you tease about new music from Dashboard?
Oh, I wish I could. There’s so many things I wish I could tell you. I guess if I could, I would talk about what I’m doing, or where I’m at as a writer. And that is when we took our hiatus, and in the time since coming back, I’ve taken a good, hard look at my catalog over the years, and asked myself, “What do I connect with the most?” And I realized, my first three records, I connect with deeply. And the songs off the subsequent records that felt like those first records. They seem to come from the same place.
Those are the bits I connect with the most. You’re not supposed to say this, you’re not supposed to say … the artist isn’t supposed to say, “I like my old shit better.” But I look at Dashboard as two chapters; It’s the up-to and including “Mark and Mission,” and then there’s after. And I feel like after, there was a fork, there was a pivot point right at that stage and I went right. And the songs that were trying to pull left were the ones that are the ones I still connect with the most deeply. So I don’t know what that left. I’ll never get back on that. Maybe I will, I don’t know. I’m not trying to get all the way under that other road, but I am going back, looking back to that pivot point and saying, “What if I had? What would that feel like?” And as I’m writing the next record, that’s what I’m… that’s where the bar is.
Do you think that we’ll get a new song this year? Or next year?
Yeah for sure! I’m excited about this new music. I don’t want to just talk about it to people, I want people to have it.
Has it been kind of a challenge juggling all the music with your newest band, Twin Forks? Or has it been very welcome and easy to do?
It’s easy for me. Wherever I’m at today, I’m all in at that spot. I just finished a Twin Forks tour, and then went the next day to Mexico for Dashboard. And there’s no transition for me. I’m all in, all the way, today.
I can’t sit here and tell you honestly I live in the moment all the time. I admire that in people, that really live in the moment. But when it comes to music, I do.
So I don’t have to overthink that. I don’t know whether it’s confusing to the fans or not. I will say, we did release one song, I think last summer, and it was a song called “May.”
And I remember, someone telling me how different the music of Twin Forks is. And I was like, “Yeah! That’s why I put it out.” I didn’t put it out so I can show you what the Dashboard record is like. I put it out because it sounded like this transitional pathway back. And it was interesting to me, that, “Oh, I see the connective tissue now.” It was more of a, “Guess what I’m starting to do? I’m starting to find my way to Dashboard songs.” And when I wrote the Twin Forks stuff, I was actively not writing Dashboard. I was intending to not write Dashboard for a long time. I’d sworn it off, and I wasn’t in the right place, and I knew it. And as soon as I decided I was in the right place to start aiming for it, I got “May” out of it. And I knew it wasn’t going to make the record. Because it’s not a total Dashboard song, but it’s not a Twin Forks song either.
I thought that was an interesting way to reveal something. I just thought that that was an interesting thing to share with people. I don’t know whether they got it as such, as it was intended, or if they just said, “This is good, bad, different. This is not Dashboard.” No idea. But it was for me. It’s probably the only time I’ve ever seen it so clearly. This song is in between, it’s somewhere that’s sharing some ground here.
When I write for Further Seems Forever, it’s so collaborative, and it’s such a snail pace that it’s not surprising to me that it’s Further. And there’s no question it’s Further; when I write for Dashboard now, or Twin Forks, those songs happen so fast, I’m really aware of where they belong.
And my last question for you is … you’ve talked about this a little bit. But at the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? And what do you hope your fans continue to take away from your songs? And I know you’ve said that you want them to connect. Is there anything else that you think about?
Yeah, I think that I believe that feeling and exploring feelings, or exploring feeling, in music, as a music listener, a music fan, is something you shouldn’t have to apologize for, even though there are bullies in the world. And I think that feelings are universal, and music is universal, and we’re lucky for that, as people.
Well, thanks for your time today! I’ll see you on this tour in July.
I cannot wait!
Listen to the full interview here on Souncloud: