Dashboard Confessional’s anthemic singalongs have tugged and mended many a teenage heart following their 2000 debut “The Swiss Army Romance” and 2003’s “A Mark, a Mission, a Brand, a Scar.”
Now 41, Chris Carrabba is staging a casual Dashboard revival of sorts, following the band's brief hiatus and a successful run in the folk category with Twin Forks. Over the summer, Dashboard will join the Taste of Chaos tour with fellow emo era headliners, Taking Back Sunday. Meanwhile Carrabba is making his way through a new Dashboard album, the first since 2009’s “Alter the Ending.”
He calls from Nashville, his new home base, to discuss the band’s future, their upcoming tour and his unyielding and restorative dedication to fitness.
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What’s the status of the new album? Will it be released before the tour?
I doubt it. I’m just working on the record and actively writing and recording. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it came out later this year.
So there’s no agenda to its creation?
I waited this long to do another album, so I’m going to wait until the album’s right. You have to be careful about making sure it’s not overwrought. When it’s ready, we’ll have about 30 or 40 songs we’ll be able to chose from.
I read something about this album having a narrative thread to it.
You look for some kind of unifying thread, almost a narrative one in spirit, but it’s not intended to be a narrative album. When I put the songs together, you loosely look at where the story takes you, and that’s the question I ask myself when I’m making a record.
When you say something like that in the age of digital media, do you find that sometimes the general concept or your intent can get garbled?
I’m being cagey about the details of the album because I don’t know what the details are yet. A writer or a fan have the license to take a leap because that’s sometimes all they have to work with. I’m trying to avoid any commitment to what [the album] will be, even though we could put the album out right now, or even could have had it out for a while, but I still think it’s just around the bend. I’ll just be writing and recording until I don’t feel that feeling.
Any reason why?
It’s still bearing fruit and there’s no insane deadline that has to be met. And I feel good about enjoying the process.
There were both personal and professional reasons to time away from the Dashboard project, but it ended up being several years. What’s it like being back with the band?
I think our energy level is back top where it was. We had toured extensively and our successes have been derived from interacting with our fans in person at shows, before and after. We toured and toured and it rounded out to like 280 to 300 days a year for more than a decade if I count my band [Further Seems Forever] before Dashboard.
I’ll be totally honest, we got burned out and I felt like our relationship with the audience couldn’t withstand us phoning in a tour while we figured out what to do next. I think the veil would have lifted. I didn’t think that would be fair to the audience. [Following the break], I didn’t know whether we were coming back, or when we were coming back, and it took a lot of steps to figure out how to come back. It took me going back to playing small clubs with Twin Forks and driving all night in a van to make it to the next show. Once you go back to your starting points, you realize how vital the process is to you and playing shows every night is the big reward.
You released a recording of “May” in May. Was that intentional despite not having plans set in stone of the new album?
My friend had a camera and was like, “Sing a song and we’ll put it up.” And I just said, “Sure.” In hindsight, I’ve realized that “May” was the right song to chose because it was the one I remembered al the words to. When you’re writing quickly and finish a song, you don’t go back and reverse the song again and again. You want to record and capture the rawness of it. But “May,” for some reason. I knew it.
If it wasn’t the first song I wrote while transitioning back into Dashboard, it was among the first. What I like about it is that it carries a bit of the style that the Twin Forks aesthetic is. It’s a bridge back to me. A little Twin Forks and a lot of Dashboard, and from there, I was across the bridge.
Not to totally shift gears, but your publicist told me I should talk to you about your workout regimen.
[Laughs] That’s so weird, but I do like a mind-clearing workout after a show. It’s all geared toward feeling limitless on stage. I enjoy meditative exercises like running and cycling, and then you have a very deep reservoir of energy you can draw from on stage. We all bring bikes with us on tour and pick a point in the day to meet back up before we scatter. We call it the World’s OK Bicycle Day.