"It took so many people to keep it alive. They’ve carried it and cared for it with grace." - Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carrabba
It's happening! Dashboard Confessional have made their long awaited return to UK shores- their first tour here in over a decade. In celebration, we had a chat with Dashboard frontman Chris Carrabba about what we've missed over the past 10 years, and what the future has in store.
HOW HAS THE UK BEEN TREATING YOU SO FAR?
Says Chris Carrabba: "It really has been brilliant. I’ve been really eager to get back here. The last time I was here was with one of my other bands. It’s been a really long time since we’ve had the opportunity to come over and we never intended it to be so long. I guess we took a hiatus just on the eve that we were planning a UK tour. Then the next thing we know it’s been 10 years. How can that be possible?"
YEAH, IT’S BEEN A DECADE SINCE THE LAST ONE. THAT’S PRETTY WILD.
"It is when you realise that people are still excited to see you. I don’t think we’ve really earned it you know. We haven’t come back and slogged it out and earned our right to play these sorts of shows. I’ve always felt that was something you had to earn. We’ve had a couple of mishaps along the way where we have had to cancel. In many ways we never really put in the time here that we would have liked to. So it’s astonishing that people are coming to the shows and singing along. It feels like an honour to me that they would care that much."
IT’S LIKE THE THAT LEGACY YOU HAVE CARVED OUT CONTINUING TO LIVE ON EVEN WHEN YOU’RE NOT PAYING FULL ATTENTION TO IT. THAT’S A PRETTY SPECIAL THING.
"It’s an incredible thing that at the beginning of my career my music became something that people shared with each other. Even though I know that people listen to records in isolation, I know I do, it still seemed to be a thing that people would share with their friends. They would tell them to listen to it or they would listen to it together. As a music fan, that has helped shaped me. The music that I have shared with my friends and the music they have shared with me. In many ways the music is now theirs as much as it is mine. I’ve been thinking about this recently. I play these songs every night but I never listen to them. I never listen to my own records. I have a different relationship with them than the person who is most affected by these songs. It’s only when I finally get to share in their experience when I play every night that I get to see what they mean to these other people. You see and find it in the moment and it’s fantastic."
IT’S PRETTY AMAZING THAT EVEN THIS DEEP INTO YOUR CAREER YOU CAN STILL LEARN THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR MUSIC FROM THE COMMUNITY SURROUNDING YOU.
"Community is a word that really resonates with me. That’s what I feel like I am part of. Of course I have fans, but our fans are our community. It’s a living thing. That’s why I’m so amazed at all of this support after I stepped away and came back. It took somebody to keep it alive. It took so many people to keep it alive. They’ve carried it and cared for it with grace."
OVER THAT 10-YEAR PERIOD YOU MAY NOT HAVE BEEN PLAYING AS DASHBOARD IN THE UK BUT YOU HAVE BEEN VISITING IN MANY DIFFERENT FORMS. OVER THAT TIME SO MANY THINGS MUST HAVE CHANGED BEFORE YOUR EYES. WHAT HAS STUCK WITH YOU THE MOST?
"That’s a very broad question. I think I have to answer it as someone who travels here as Dashboard Confessional. Though I don’t get to see many sights while I’m here and travelling with the band, I do get to meet far more people. Something that I would say is truly extraordinary is that in the first iteration of my career when we were travelling here, we were on the fringes of the music scene. Popular music, as a blanket statement, was never the way that I discovered music even though there are things I enjoyed on the radio.
"When I first travelled here I was astounded that there was this great integration of people that would do a deep dive into counter culture though also accept pop music for what it is- something to enjoy and maybe to find challenge in as a listener. There seemed to be a difference where it didn’t have to be one or the other. You didn’t rally against your friend listening to the radio while you listened to something through your headphones. At the time I wondered if this was pop music seeping into the counter culture. I’ve come back here over the years and now I’ve seen the counter culture is seeping into pop culture, to great effect if we’re talking about music. A band I think embodies that so well is The 1975. If they were from New Jersey I’m not sure they would be able to become international superstars. People wouldn’t know how to accept them for being more than one thing. They are lucky to be British and have a fan base that understands that everybody is more than one thing. It’s just an incredibly accepting community and I think that’s why it works for my band. We don’t fit into a box very well. It takes an open mind to give us a chance and that’s what we receive in the UK."
IT FEELS LIKE YOU’VE ALWAYS BEEN PUSHING THE BOAT OUT WITH YOUR MUSIC, ESPECIALLY WITH ALBUMS LIKE THIS YEAR'S ‘CROOKED SHADOWS’ AND THAT THE ACCEPTANCE YOU RECEIVE IN PLACES LIKE THE UK IS A BIG INFLUENCE FOR THAT. HOW DOES THAT REFLECT WHERE YOU ARE HEADING AS WE LOOK INTO THE FUTURE?
"I feel like I will always be chasing the next song, whatever it is and whatever it sounds like, for the rest of my life. I don’t know where it comes from. The thing is that the singular place where I can truly express myself and really investigate who I am and figure out if that’s who I am actually am or if it’s who I want to be is through writing songs. It's the only way I’ve ever been able to do that. In the moment where I’m writing songs, and conversely when I get the chance to sing them to people, I feel a brief but brilliant satisfaction even if the song is not that good. Not every song that you’re going to write is going to be good, and that’s okay. The next one will be, or the one after that. I’ve come to grips with the fact that not everybody gets to be Radiohead. I’ve come to grips with being pretty ok with that at this point in my career. I feel like I have a narrower corner to work within in terms of a fan base and maybe even my ability. I think in knowing that, I have freed myself up to be more effective with the things that I say."
IT’S SOMETHING THAT COMES WITH AGE AND EXPERIENCE REALLY. YOU’RE COMING UP TO 20 YEARS OF LIVING WITH THE DASHBOARD MONIKER AND THAT AMOUNT OF TIME GIVES YOU A DIFFERENT SENSE OF PERSPECTIVE TO THE PERSON AND ARTIST AND SONGWRITER THAT YOU WERE, SAY, 15 YEARS AGO. IT’S ABOUT MAKING THE MOST OF THOSE MOMENTS OF INSPIRATION THAT YOU HAVE NOW AND REALISING HOW YOU GOT THERE AND NOT BEING AFRAID OF NOW BEING THERE.
"I’m not afraid of that now either. I’m no more certain of where it will take me than the first day I picked up a guitar, but I’m definitely not afraid of that now. I think it’s because I take this vantage point looking backwards and say to myself that this wasn’t supposed to work. Even in the moment when I was writing those first Dashboard songs I was thinking how any of this was going to work. How do I get any of this out? Then when I figured that out I wondered if anyone would even like this. Then I found out that they do and then asked myself what do I do now that they do like it? I didn’t care if they didn’t like it. I cared more if they did, what do I do then? I think I am still trying to work that out now. It’s funny because my first three records are so against the grain of what was popular at the time. I feel like as I’m writing now, the place that I’m working from is more comparable to those early days. I don’t know if that means that the next record will sound anything like that, it might. What I do know is that the place that I feel most comfortable is when I’m working against that grain."
IT’S LIKE EVEN IF YOU FEEL LIKE SOMETHING IS SLOTTING INTO WHAT IS MORE POPULAR AT THE TIME, IT’S STILL SO FAR AWAY FROM THAT IN SO MANY WAYS JUST BECAUSE OF THE PLACE THAT THOSE SONGS ARE COMING FROM. IT’S NOT ABOUT IF SOMEONE LOVES OR HATES A SONG; IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BIGGER JOURNEY FOR YOURSELF.
"My goals were pretty simple when I started and they have pretty much stayed the same. Whatever that song seems to want to be, then let it be that. If you’re lucky that it connects with people, then get out there and play that song for them so that song can connect back to you through them."
SAYING THAT, IS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU WANT 2019 TO REALLY REPRESENT FOR DASHBOARD OR IS IT JUST A CASE OF LETTING THINGS FLOW JUST LIKE YOU ALWAYS HAVE?
"I don’t really know. Things, life, songs, everything. They all move forward. They don’t go backwards. I don’t know if I use things such as years as mile markers when it comes to my experience. I’ve come to realise that the only thing we can really experience is right now. I’m very glad that I get to experience now with the men and women that I’m out on tour with and the men and women that I get to play for. For me, those are my mile markers."
Dashboard Confessional are currently half way through their UK tour, with six dates still left! Check out the full list of tour dates below:
07 - CARDIFF Tramshed
08 - BRISTOL SWX
09 - PORTSMOUTH Pyramids
11 - BIRMINGHAM Digbeth Mill
12 - GLASGOW O2 ABC
14 - NEWCASTLE Riverside
15 - MANCHESTER Academy 2
16 - LEEDS Beckett University
18 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City
19 - LONDON Koko