Floridian singer and songwriter Chris Carrabba from Dashboard Confessional has been able to credit his hard work and dedication to his fans for the success he has earned throughout his career. He recorded his first album under the Dashboard Confessional moniker, Swiss Army Romance, in 2000 and has maintained a steady and loyal fanbase ever since. His pure and simple acoustic sounds blend perfectly with relatable, heartwarming word play that makes it effortless to fall in love with his music.
Through the years, he has been motivated to further his experience as a performer by taking his music to audiences all around the country. His records after The Swiss Amy Romance up till his most recent, Alter The Ending, have all been released within no more than a three years of each other.
The band’s notoriety has even allowed them to be a part of the sound track to the popular Spiderman 2 movie, with the song “Vindicated.” With the help from his band, Carrabba has been able to change up his writing, as well as the tone to his usual sounds to provide fans with great musical leaps without seeming like someone completely different. He has thus far been able to give perfect transitions from passionate acoustic songs to more instrumental and electric tunes that satisfy one’s rocker senses.
After touring for several years, Carrabba is back at it with a tour for the 10-year anniversary of his first record. Besides heading out on a new tour, Carrabba also recently released a deluxe vinyl version of the album on Nov. 16. Although only 1,000 of these limited edition box sets will be sold, the fortunate few will be able to enjoy Carrabba’s handwritten lyrics, previously unreleased photos, guitar picks, a tour laminate and re-mastered versions of the Swiss Army record. All of these things will come packed in an intricately made Swiss army knife case. Below, the singer shares his views on the past ten years of his career, how he has personally grown as an artist, and what he sees in the future for Dashboard Confessional.
You’re getting ready to start a tour for the 10th anniversary of your first album The Swiss Army Romance. Do you have any good and bad standout memories from the past decad?
Yeah, just like anybody else, I guess I have good and bad memories from the past 10 years. The good exceeds the bad. It’s either I don’t believe in the bad or I have the ability to just look at the bright side of things. The VMA’s were pretty unforgettable. Selling out arenas, specifically like Madison Square Garden, was a huge one for us. It’s something we’re very proud of. Probably the biggest one though is knowing that we have developed a pretty close relationship with our fanbase that is personal and rewarding. Those are definitely some of the good ones. There have been plenty of broken down vans however and times spent being left on the side of the road. There’s also those early mornings when you wake up for shows and then there’s no show.
How did your 10-year anniversary tour come about? Was it your idea or did somebody else approach you with a plan?
Well, to give credit where credit is due, I was actually approached with the idea by my management. I was asked if I would be willing to do something and the idea hadn’t necessarily occurred to me to do something. They had encouraged me to do something new and it really got me thinking. I mean it’s a milestone for me and I guess by extension it’s also a milestone for some of these fans, especially the ones that I have gotten to know very well.
How does it feel to go back and play the Swiss Army Romance record? Are you playing any songs this time around that you have never done before?
Well, yeah. I mean there were songs from the first record that, very early on, I stopped playing live. I can’t really remember why anymore, but yeah, there are definitely some that I have not played since the very early days of Dashboard Confessional. That only answers the first part of your question, because… it just feels terrifying, by the way. Like right now I know that I know these songs in the back of my head but I still do have to go back and see if they are still there somewhere. I think I’ve found them though, I got lucky!
Do you think your music has evolved since your first album? Has the songwriting process changed for you at all?
The songwriting process is always changing for me so it is constantly very different. There were parameters that I had intact in the first record that I haven’t held so rigidly since. One of them was that there could be no fat on bones when it came to music; it had to be all meat, so there’s not a lot of musical interludes and there’s not a lot of points in the song where I am not still telling the story. I think I’ve realized after a few records that I can tell my story in any way I want to. I guess and I don’t have to cram one all in just three minutes. I will always get the chance to tell a story once again.
How does your last record Alter The Ending compare to Swiss Army Romance record?
Well, in a lot of ways, it’s very obviously different. Especially in that Alter The Ending, it’s a pretty fiery record, as opposed to a very stripped down, mostly acoustic record like Swiss Army Romance. But there’s always the same mentality in an approach to a record. It was very similar because I was always trying to remember what it was like when nobody was paying attention to the fact that I was writing songs when I wrote the last record. In the Swiss Army Romance, I had a huge sense that… nobody would ever hear it. So I realized that I can say whatever I want however I want, and in the last record I reminded myself of that. It was harder to do but I do think I did it.
Does it feel strange to you to remaster or reissue an album after all these years?
Strange? No, not really. I don’t think it’s strange at all… I think I’m starting to get what you mean now about remastering the record. It was partially to get everything in order so that it could be presented on 7” vinyl.
Why the use of 7” of vinyl across five records for the limited edition box set? Is there a reason behind the ways in which you divided up the songs?
Well you can’t put a whole record on a 7” and I also really liked the presentation, obviously, of the limited edition CD packaging. But the packaging came before the product, so in other words, I really wanted it to look like a Swiss army knife and that’s what we had to do pretty much to place the songs on the record, so I had to put the songs in ways that would facilitate having it all sit properly in the packaging design.
Do you think the response to your music changed over the past 10 years? Why or why not?
Oh, well, the answer to that I still really don’t know. You and the fans will just have to wait and listen to the record first I guess.
What is one of the weirdest experiences you have ever had with a fan?
Well, I have had—I have seriously come into my hotel room to find a girl in there on more than one occasion, and I still think that’s pretty bizarre. I don’t think it’s bad, but it’s still really bizarre.
Now what are your plans for after the 10 year anniversary tour?
You know, I am not highly sure on what the plan really is, but I am very excited about this tour and usually most of the time these kinds of things lead me to new changes you know. So, I don’t know exactly what the very next thing I want to do truly is, but I’m sure I’ll discover what that is during the course of this tour.
Dashboard Confessional will be performing at the House Of Blues in Atlantic City Dec. 4, Crocodile Rock Dec. 5, Webster Hall Dec. 7 and the Stone Pony on Dec. 8. Find more info at dashboardconfessional.com.