“You’ll have to forgive me, I’m geek multi-tasking,” says Chris Carrabba, sounding rushed. “I’m watching ‘V: The Final Battle’—remember that? And I’m ordering comic books online, opening a box of rare sneakers and drinking coffee. And talking to you.” No worries; the Dashboard Confessional frontman has been busy recently. Not only did he just spend a good year touring on his 2006 record “Dusk and Summer,” he’s also managed to bang out a new record, “The Shade of Poison Trees” (out October 2) and line up a solo tour for the fall.
For Dashboard fans, here’s the good news: Carrabba’s new record and tour return him to his one-man, emo singalong roots. But it’s not entirely retro—whereas older Dashboard records sounded a bit meek, “Poison Trees” has some lyrical venom in its tracks. And while interviewed, Carrabba shows off a funny, geeky side he doesn’t usually reveal. At the very least, he’s certainly having fun using the word “emotional.”
There’s some directness to these lyrics—“Where’s there’s gold there’s a gold digger” is one of the first lines on the record.
[Affects English accent] The old boy is sod off these days! [Normal voice] There were…specific people who inspired the shaping of this record. I was angry with certain things. I’ve been heralded for being “emotional” on my records, and on my last one, I really pulled back. I shouldn’t have allowed myself to be influenced by others. I’ve never shied away from lambasting someone before. But who gives a crap? Even on that first song, it’s not total anger—I have sympathy for this person, not anger or judgment. And it might be about me. Am I mad at me?
Do you find doing a mostly acoustic album like this to be easier?
It was pleasant. More pleasing. Actually, every moment making this was pure enjoyment. Every stage of it felt like an adventure. The last record, I’m not sure what state of mind I came in with. There were a lot of cooks in the kitchen. I mean, I invited them in. I think I was just unsure of myself. This time, it was just the band and the producer, and we all knew to get where we wanted.
Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows, who sang on your last record, really digs you guys. What did that band mean to you?
Those guys are huge for me. That guy, Adam, his lyrics…he’s such a powerful poet without hiding behind poetry. The pictures he can draw for you…that first record of theirs, it was like saying, “I am going to be the biggest influence in your life, Chris.” I mean, when I heard it, I was this hardcore punk kid. One day my younger brother put it on. I listened to it and that was it. It wasn’t just emotional—everyone’s emotional. He’s deeper than that. The band brought me out of my indie snobbery, too. It came out on Geffen—at the time, I was still mad Green Day had signed to a major label. I wouldn’t listen to bands on a major label at the time, but the Crows record helped me turn a corner. Why care about business practices if you like the band?
What’s the most bizarre tribute a fan has ever done for you?
Tattoos. Just a legion of tattoos. Before we released this record, we did a few e-mail blasts—I hate that I know that word, by the way—and kids started e-mailing me tattoos of the album cover without having heard a note.
You could have been a real ass and changed the album artwork.
[Laughs] Yeah, I thought about that. Or what if the record stinks? No one thought of that.
Many straight men have crushes on you. Who is your man-crush?
Cillian Murphy. He’s a beautiful man. He’s so beautiful he’s like a woman.
OK, so…joke question. Do you have any connection to the Italian restaurant chain restaurant Carraba’s?
Actually, there is a loose relation to my family, like my grandfather’s cousin started it or something. It’s strange, and I’m not making this up…I go there and it tastes a little like eating at my grandparents' house.
You’ve done some of these pop radio station festivals in the last few years. What’s it like hanging out with the Justin Timberlakes of the world?
It’s not bad. You meet people you never would have met, like Hilary Duff—she’s awesome. But I’m not really part of that scene. I don’t go for paparazzi, for example. I would never go to a place or a restaurant where I knew I’d be bothered.
You’d go to Carraba’s.
Chris Carrabba fesses up
The Dashboard Confessional singer opens up about his new album and solo tour
Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional (Matt Rubin)
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