by Jeff Niesel
Singer-guitarist Chris Carrabba started out playing hardcore punk rock with Further Seems Forever. He then switched gears with the emo-punk act Dashboard Confessional. And he’s now embraced folk-rock with his new band Twin Forks, which plays the Grog Shop tonight.
“Looking back with perspective, I realize I worked through my influences in reverse order,” he says. “When I first started playing music, I was playing hardcore and that’s what I was listening to then. Then, I played what I was listening to before hardcore. The earliest music I remember gravitating toward was this folk music. Or maybe it’s not folk music. I’m thinking of Simon & Garfunkel and John Denver and Townes Van Zandt and Willie Nelson. It’s this weird mix of boundaryless music.”
He recalls that his parents often listened to the Stones and Cat Stevens, and he says he tried to channel those influences into Dashboard Confessional.
“When I started doing Dashboard, my attempt was to take the folk singer approach but without what I saw as the trappings of folk,” he says. “I thought of that term really loosely. What we do is this weird mixture of folk, singer-songwriter and bluegrass and a bit of indie rock. With Dashboard, I was trying to avoid the trappings of what I listened to while growing up. I didn’t want to feel like I was treading on my influences. As I became a more confident player, I realized it was a traditional template and not something to be avoided but something to excel within.”
The new self-titled debut from Twin Forks, which pairs him with mandolin player Suzie Zeldin, bassist Jonathan Clark and drummer Ben Homola, features a collection of upbeat, folk-inspired tunes that’ll appeal more to fans of, say, Mumford and Sons than of The Promise Ring.
“I’m not sure my last band was really reflective of my state of mind. If you came to the shows, you realize there was joy in the performances," he says. "That was something I was really aware of. It’s hard to be joyful in music. I think that it’s easier to be tortured or pensive in music. But to allow joy in music without it being saccharine is tricky. That’s the trap. If it’s joyful, it possibly lacks punch. We allow there to still be musical tension. It’s a reaction to how much fun we have together as friends and players.”