Around this time last year, Dashboard Confessional returned to win back our hearts after announcing an epic co-headlining summer tour alongside Third Eye Blind, marking their first run of shows after a lengthy five-year hiatus. One of my fondest memories from that fateful summer of 2015 was watching the group perform from behind the fences of the Stone Pony Summer Stage with a friend of mine, where we both happened to be in the area that afternoon. As the band introduced their set with the nostalgically enticing chords of “Screaming Infidelities,” I felt my heart melt onto the Asbury Park Boardwalk, and there was not a single cloud in the sky from that moment on.
After spending most of that summer on the road, Dashboard took the stage once again this past fall to perform a special one-day-only resurrected Taste Of Chaos Festival that pretty much featured all of our favorite bands from high school, including The Used, Jimmy Eat World, Glassjaw, Finch and The Movielife, to name a few. Fast forward to this year, we were graced with the news of Taste Of Chaos’ revival as a full tour for the upcoming summer. Not only does this colossal tour list Dashboard Confessional as the headlining act, Taste Of Chaos’ summer lineup also features the likes of Taking Back Sunday, The Early November and Saosin, as well as Saves The Day, Motion City Soundtrack and The Starting Line on select dates.
If that wasn’t enough to get you excited, the band’s ringleader and frontman, Chris Carrabba, revealed that he’s been hard at work with crafting together a possible Dashboard Confessional record to be released in the near future. While no specific details have been further announced, Carrabba recently premiered a “surprise new single” entitled “May”—the first Dashboard-based tune to be released since the 2009 studio effort, After The Ending.
A few weeks before Dashboard Confessional sailed out to start their headlining summer run alongside Taking Back Sunday, The Early November and Saosin, I had the pleasure of speaking with Chris Carrabba to talk about the upcoming Taste Of Chaos tour and the band’s latest surprise single, “May.” While discussing this spontaneous new track, Carrabba also briefly shared with me his extensive writing process as of late for the tentative Dashboard record that’s currently in the works.
There’s no doubt that this year’s Taste Of Chaos tour will feature a lot of musicians that you’ve been close to throughout Dashboard’s entire career. Who would you say are you looking forward to catching up with the most this summer?
Man, how do I know how to answer this question? These are people that I’ve been friends with when we were playing in basements, do you know I mean? (Laughs) For one, it’s like we don’t lose touch, so that’s a really good thing. I look forward to a couple of few shows where Motion City Soundtrack is going to join, or Saves The Day is going to join us, or The Get Up Kids, or people that won’t be on the whole tour.
But by in large, we’re talking about The Early November, Saosin—who I don’t know the guys in Saosin, but I’ve toured with [frontman] Anthony Green a ton, so I’m looking forward to getting to know the guys in Saosin. And of course, Taking Back Sunday—I mean, [vocalist] Adam Lazzara was at a show on my very first “ghetto tour” I ever did, and he gave me the very first demo of Taking Back Sunday. That’s how far we go back.
I think when you’re fan of a band, you really hope the bands you like are friends. For some reason, that’s important, and in this case, it’s true.
This past fall, Dashboard Confessional played the Taste Of Chaos Festival—a one-day-only festival alongside Jimmy Eat World, The Used, Thrice and Glassjaw, to name a few. What was it like to be a part of that festival last year? How did the opportunity to revisit Taste Of Chaos as a full U.S. tour come about?
I’ve been out that summer for the first time with Dashboard after a very long hiatus, and we went out with Third Eye Blind. It was kind of taking a chance on something that we thought would be fun. Like, “Could this possibly work?” And it did, it worked great.
While we were out there, I started thinking, “Of course, I would want to go out on tour with the friends I came up with. That’s what I’m doing next summer no matter what.” So, I started putting together my dream team of bands that I would love to have on tour. I was talking about it with people, and including the people that ran Taste Of Chaos—just friendly conversation. Then, we did the Taste Of Chaos Festival, with bands that we’ve played our whole careers. “Career” being an overstatement—we’ve been playing with these bands when we were paying to play at places, or if we were lucky to get paid in a slice of pizza or something like that (laughs).
That show itself was glorious. I remember vividly like every band took the stage, and took a minute to [talk] about every band on that show. It was really beautiful—it was like, Woodstock or something (laughs). So, I was talking to the Taste Of Chaos guys, and they had no intention I don’t think of reviving the Taste Of Chaos brand as a tour, but they liked what I was planning on doing for a tour, and I think they just kind of threw caution in the wind and said, “Maybe this is what we should be doing.” You’d have to ask them, but that’s the feeling that I got, that they were like, “Everything seems to be kind of landing in place, and let’s give it a go.”
With the tour’s lineup alone, to me it screams nostalgia, along with celebrating the past. Because of the overwhelming support surrounding the initial Taste Of Chaos tour announcement, how does the excitement for this tour reflect on the impact that your music has made on your fans over the years?
Good question… that’s a tough one of me to judge (laughs). I’d like to think that we wrote some good songs, but we’re a band that is lucky enough to stand the test of time. I think the big factor is that the audience for this kind of music is devout, and incredibly passionate. So, obviously that’s why we remain relevant because our audience continues to care.
Throughout your last year touring with Third Eye Blind, what is it like to revisit these songs night after night? As you get older, do you feel that you often find new meanings to your songs?
You know, it’s so funny how songs have this weird life of their own where… I don’t know how people outside of musicians think, but songs are malleable, and they continue to grow and change in meaning, and in content. You know, you might change a word here, you might change a chord there, but the songs take on the meaning of the room that night very often.
So, sometimes, a song can mean something totally, completely new that you’ve never felt before because that’s what that collective audience seems to mean to them. In other times, it’s like you’re in a time machine, and you’re right back where you were when you wrote the song. You’re feeling the exact same thing for good or for bad.
On top of that, you also released a brand new song entitled “May.” While a lot of people have been poking and prodding you about what could come from this track as far as a potential single for an upcoming album, how does it feel to share this tune with your fans?
Well, it doesn’t feel real yet. I just sang it last week, and they posted it this week, and it was just 20 minutes… just two takes of a song or something. It was set up for 20 minutes, I sang it twice, and that was it. Now that it’s out to the world I can’t overthink it.
It’s just that… I like the song, and I don’t even know if it’s our best song, or if I was being asked to choose what would be the best introduction where the next record is going to sound like, I’m not sure if that’s [“May”] the one I’d pick. They asked me to sing a song, and I thought to myself, “Which one do I know all of the words to by heart? This one will do.”
But it does feel good to be out of the vacuum. I’ve been working for a long time now on a new record with nobody paying attention, but I don’t want anyone paying attention. I guess now they will be, since I put that out. So, it’s kind of like, as much as I have to have it out there to the world, it’s already starting to slip out of my fingers, and that’s not bad. But it’s one of those things where you have to go through while making a record, like realizing, “Oh, people will hear this.”
I’ve been actively writing and recording about 30 songs without ever considering how it relates to the “ad-user,” you know? (Laughs) It’s just something that I’ve been doing because I love doing it.
Of course, I am sure you are having a lot of fun writing and simply playing these songs as you go.
Of course. Yeah, it feels very liberating to write new music. Especially after taking that time away, it’s a strong reward within itself.
Definitely! Considering that “May” is the first Dashboard song to be released in quite some time, in what ways does the track chronicle your songwriting approach nowadays compared to the last couple of years?
For this song? I think one of the reasons of putting out this song “May” is because it is a bit transitional from Twin Forks back to Dashboard Confessional. There’s hints of the last place I’ve been in on my little trip away from Dashboard. So, I kind of like that, and I wonder if people want Dashboard to sound very, very specific. Believe me, a lot of this new record will fulfill that desire, but I wonder if people are like, “Well, I already had Twin Forks. What’s this, Dashboard or Twin Forks?” For me, it was important to have a song when I was writing that bridged that gap back towards Dashboard.
Is it safe to say that there is a chance that fans should possibly hear “May,” as well as many other possible new tracks, in a live setting at Taste Of Chaos this summer?
I don’t know if I’ll sing “May” or not. I might, but I don’t know whether or not I’ll release it first. I think I should, I’d like to (laughs)—especially in this era where you don’t have to be too serious about how you release stuff. But there’s just that question of, “Do I really know if I’m done with it yet?” That’s the only reason why I don’t know if I’ll release it quite yet.
But yeah, there’s this one song that is kind of… I don’t know, I think it’s really special. I don’t know if this sounds good or bad, but it’s like this weird mix between “This Bitter Pill” and “Hands Down.”
On that note, when this colossal Taste Of Chaos tour draws to a close, what does the rest of the year look like for both yourself and Dashboard Confessional?
Oh, I think we’ll be busy for the rest of the year. I think there will be music, and I think there will be tours.
Chris, I would like to thank you again for your time, it was truly an honor to speak with you today. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Thank you for helping us promote this show. It makes such a huge difference, and I don’t know how we would do it without getting lucky with press, and stuff like that.
I would like to add that I really love to meet the fans. So, if anyone is able to come early, I am always out in the audience before the show starts. If you see me, please say hi. I look just like me, I’m easy to find, and I really enjoy getting to know the people that like either my music or the bands on the bill’s music—because I like those bands too.
Dashboard Confessional is currently headlining the Taste Of Chaos tour this summer alongside Taking Back Sunday, The Early November and Saosin. The Taste Of Chaos tour will be making stops at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ on June 17, Nikon At Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, NY on June 18, and Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia, PA on June 19. For more information, go to dashboardconfessional.com.