Dashboard Confessional (AKA Chris Carraba) has just exploded on the scene in the last year or so and his popularity seems to be growing ten-fold with every tour across the country. I managed to find Chris in the great crowd at the TLA in Philly and got a chance to ask him some questions (my associate Peter Rimby was also present).
Nate: Where do you call home and how old are you?
Chris: I'm 25 and I live in south Florida.
Nate: Living in Florida, did you have any problem in figuring out your presidential ballot?
Chris: I wasn't there, and I forgot to get my absentee ballot in time. I would have voted for Nador, so it
wouldn't have mattered either way.
Nate: Who is your favorite super-hero and why?
Chris: That's such a tough question. There was this short run thing called Hawk and Dove. It was a team; they were a boy and girl. The guy was all super aggressive, and the girl mellowed him out and made him sensitive. So he was this sensitive, thugish super hero.
Nate: How long has Dashboard Confessional been around?
Chris: I did the first thing in January of 2000, but I didn't really start doing this until October of 2000.
Nate: "Swiss Army Romance" has been hugely popular among all the genres of the independent scene
(hardcore, punk, emo) why do you think that is?
Chris: I don't know. I've been trying to figure it out. But I'm happy about it. I think it's because what I do, I do out of honesty and that's something all those kids can relate to.
Nate: You have mentioned at the beginning of several shows, that I have been too; that the music you write and perform is not for you but for everyone (this being one of the reasons why you use Dashboard
Confessional instead of your name). Why?
Chris: When I wrote those songs, recorded them and decided to do them outside of my bedroom, it was for my friends who dragged my kicking and screaming into the studio so they could have it. They listened to it, and liked it a lot and wanted to have it with them. So I was like, "well if that's important to them"…so it was always about the listener from the inception of what I was doing. And then, it just made me think about how important the kids are to the band and if I'm not even in a band and there's no one else to even share it with, why not just share it with all the people. That's what it should be at its purist level anyway.
Nate: What is the importance in expression through music?
Chris: I guess it's just a pure way to express yourself. That's the most important thing to me. I guess that's all it is to me. It's the only way I am able to express myself.
Nate: If you were being held hostage by terrorists and they were going to force you to listen to one album,
non-stop, for 72 hours and your choices were:
a. The soundtrack from Evita
b. Abba- "Ring, Ring"
c. Tony Bennet- "Songs from the Heart"
d. Bread- "Baby, I want you"
Who would you choose?
Chris: Tony Bennet. (*Interviewers note: Chris cringed a little bit more as each option was read.)
Nate: Where did you get the name Dashboard Confessional? Does it have some special meaning?
Chris: It came out of one of the songs I'd written, and I thought that would be a great name for the song.
Then, I thought that sounds like a band name, maybe I should start another band. I was in Further Seems Forever at the time, and I didn't want another band. Then I thought, well I'm gonna do this acoustic thing,
and I didn't want to call it Chris Carraba, because that felt very exclusive, and I wanted it to be inclusive so everyone could be involved, like my friends coming out on tour with me whenever I wanted.
Like my friends from Seville coming out this time. What rulebook says it has to be called your name if you're one guy?
Nate: When you're not on tour and you're at home, what is your normal day like?
Chris: I wake up early and I watch a re-run of ER. Sometimes two, because they're on back to back. Then I read for awhile, I volunteer at an elementary school, then I write songs. I usually make plans to go out with my friends, and then I get weird and hermitish, and stay home and read or write more songs.
Nate: What kind of music did you listen you growing up?
Chris: The Beach Boys.
Nate: After having toured all over the country, is there one show that sticks out in your mind as being
the best (attendance, merch sales, fan support)?
Chris: Every Long Island show is insane with not necessarily numbers, but participation. North Carolina and of course South Florida.
Nate: What kind of guitars do you use? Do you have a favorite?
Chris: I use Guilds, Fenders and Deans. Today my Guilds are my favorite, but I'm a Fender man.
Nate: Favorite place to eat?
Chris: My mom's house.
Nate: If you could tour with any one-hit wonder band from the 80's who would it be?
Nate: Where do you see independent/underground music going in the next 20 years?
Chris: I think it's going to be harder and harder for there to be an underground scene with the Internet.
People can have access from any town to any other town in any part of the country. What's cool is, it's going to explode and change what's offered to the kids and the masses will be able to find anything they want because the independents are going to have just as many outlets as the majors. They are going to be
better bands, purer and more believers in the actual music. It's going to be exciting. I think the majors are going to get buried. They will always be there, but they'll have to change the way they do things.
Nate: How do you go about writing a new song?
Chris: I guess I have a really bad day…or a really good day. You never know.
Nate: What differences does the new album have from the old? Where you looking to make changes or move in alternate directions?
Chris: No, I wasn't trying to change directions, I just progressed. I wasn't looking to make any changes. But I think the way it differs is for one, a couple of the tracks have drums and bass. They're still acoustic and still mellow for the most part. Also I think it's slightly darker and definitely more introspective.
Nate: Some would say that playing the music you do, that you would have girls chasing after you...is that the case? Have you ever had to be rushed to the van by security because the mob threatened to overwhelm you with their adoration?
Chris: I'll answer the second part first. No. And I don't really have anyone chasing after me at all. I meet a lot of very nice people every night. I think that sort of thing happens with teeny-boppers and I don't think that's the kind of crowd I get. I think they are more passionate about music in general.
Nate: Well that's it…any last comments or questions?
Chris: Yes. Listen to The Movie Life, listen to Rocking Horse Winner, and listen to Seville.
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