Chris Carrabba shares stories behind Dashboard Confessional’s music

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By Anna Valmero

MAKATI CITY, METRO MANILA – For singer-songwriter Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional, music is a journey with no pre-determined endings – it brings you where you should be at the right time.

“At the beginning, the record was almost like a struggle of faith. I was looking for an answer that I sort of expected but I realized by the end of the record, no one’s supposed to give you what you’re looking for.”

“You’re just supposed to come to the right place in your own time,” Chris says, referring to the band’s latest album Alter the Ending. Short of saying it’s their most personal album yet, he says the record relates to his own growth as a musician and also reflects his band’s musical journey.

The quartet, composed of guitarist John Lefler, bassist Scott Schoenbeck, drummer Mike Marsh and Carrabba, have been together for over ten years.

Being labeled as an emo band, largely due to their heart-on-sleeve hit songs like Stolen, Hands Down and Vindicated, doesn’t disturb the 35-year-old Boca Raton, Florida native at all.

“We do not mind being categorized as emo or something. Our music is constantly evolving. I’d like to think it is important as a person that we’ve connected with our audience personally and if we are remembered for that, I’d be proud of that,” says Chris, describing all the songs he’s written for Dashboard as “very personal”.

The single Stolen, taken from the album Dusk and Summer, was inspired by tourists in the community where he grew up. “For one part of the year, we call it season, it (our town) fills up with rich folks and their daughters, which is convenient for guys like me because I like to date the daughters.”

“I was thinking about this great thing that happens on the last weekend of the season where they serve gala parties that you have to be invited to to get into. We the townies, we’ve all learned how to crash these parties without invitation. And every year, I fell deeply in love with one of these girls for a couple of weeks and it’s tremendous, I love it.”

“You’re sure it will last forever and it does, for a while,” Chris recalls with a smile.

Belle of the Boulevard (from Alter The Ending) talks about a girl, whom the singer-composer considers as one of the most beautiful women he’s known. “We lost touch and I was sad to see how far she’d fallen. I didn’t intend to write the song about her but I sat down in the piano and the chords sounded good and suddenly there was a song there.”

“Funny thing is I saw her the other day and she doesn’t know I’ve written this song about her. I can’t tell her. She’s heard the song. I hope it did make her realize it was written for her but she didn’t ask me,” Chris shares, drawing sympathy from the audience, who flocked to the Glorieta Activity Center for the band’s press conference.

Known as a prolific songwriter, Chris says composing each of the band’s song has its own story, especially when he is “in the moment” to put words into them. “It happens very quick like Hands Down happened in one sitting, maybe 20 minutes. And Vindicated is another one of my quickest work: literally, I wrote that song in 10 minutes. I’m sure I was thinking about it for a while. Of course there are other songs, they don’t necessarily have that magic that you spend them time with.”

One time, in search of a poignant way to end a song, he spent three days to record a demo song. “I thought I would hit it big on this one but I couldn’t find the right combination.”

“In my frustration, I just step away and give myself time and for 20 minutes, I would sit at the piano and after that, I come back to this song. Then, you stumble into it. You can plan for it all you want but you just stumble into it, into those finer moments,” he shares.

Asked about one song he wish he’d written, he says would have to be Jon Bon Jovi’ signature song Livin’ on a Prayer. “When we heard that song played, I’ve never seen a crowd as extraordinary as that. They lose their minds. Then we were at this bar and the song played. You thought you’re in a concert, because people just lost it.”

When not on tour or recording their songs, Chris says he plays their songs on Guitar Hero but fails to get a perfect score. “I’m an actual guitarist and that strumming is just different. But I love Guitar Hero.”

Ruby Escalona, a Dashboard fan, says she “discovered” the band last year after hearing Stolen during a a friend’s wedding. Of course, she will be watching the band perform live at the Trinoma Mindanao Open Parking on  Thursday (May 28).

“I love the band because they write songs that you can connect to and the songs are pretty good to hear, they are definitely an instant LSS (last song syndrome) minus the annoyance factor. I will love to play that song (Stolen) even after I got married,” she says.

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Hi Anna,

Thank you so much for uploading the video, I really appreciate it. I’m so glad because I am one of the lucky fans who was able to ask the question about the song “stolen”

Would it be possible if you can email me a copy of this video/pictures or any coverage during the press conference?

again, Thank you for this wonderful article!