Initially, Dashboard Confessional singer-guitarist Chris Carrabba sang with the indie rock band Further Seems Forever, an emo group that formed back in 1998. While still a member of that band, he began experimenting with his own tunes and wound up with a "growing pile" of tunes that just weren't right for the band.
When Further had some leftover studio time, Carrabba decided to seize the opportunity to record some of his demos with a $200 guitar that a friend gave him.
After he cut the record, 2000's The Swiss Army Romance
, he originally didn't think he'd release it. Once he did, the response was tremendously positive, so he kept writing and recording. The band's second album, 2002's The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most
included the hit single "Screaming Infidelities," and the band's third album, A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar
, went to No. 2 on the Top 200. The group even sold out Madison Square Garden.
Dashboard Confessional would eventually splinter in 2011, but it reunited three years ago for a summer tour that paired it with Third Eye Blind.
Earlier this year, the reunited group released Crooked Shadows
, its first album in more than eight years. As part of a tour in support of the release, the band performs with Beach Slang at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 3, at House of Blues
In a recent phone interview, Carrabba talks about each of the tracks on the album that a press release describes as "the result of a near decade-long period of immense self-examination."
"It started out as a commentary reflecting on the music scene that I came up in that really fought for individuality but also fought for equality. It made people that were outsiders in regular walks of life have a place to belong, and at the same time, the state of the country — or the state of the presidency, I should say — sort of made me feel like an outsider, and I just noticed how volatile and reactionary things have become. I think it might be a call, among other things, just to agree that if you want social change, you've gotta fight for it."
"I think that [being there for somebody] is kind of an overarching theme on this record. It's my desire to take care of the people in my life and exceeding or failing at it. And it's saying that I think that you know I'll do my best. The lyrics that come to mind are 'Well, I am no angel/but I am willing to watch over you.' Maybe I'm not the best you'll ever get, but I will do the job. That song took a strange evolution from a very, very basic acoustic song to one of the bigger guitar riff rock songs that we have. It's strange how songs will surprise you every now and again."
"Well, I think we as a band and certainly myself and the producer Jonathan Clark had this approach to this record that was that we allowed ourselves to embrace the medium that we like to work in and not have to adhere to what we've done before without leaving what we've done before in the past. So I do like production, and we do like layers now. I've discovered as well that if you're telling a raw and honest story, it's okay to make it a lush sounding production."
"Heart Beat Here"
"It just sort of wrote itself. What often come to be my favorite songs often do so because they're the ones where you just sit down, and you don't expect that you're going to start writing and before you know it you've finished something. The song is another part of the story of taking care of somebody and wanting to be the person that can be relied upon."
"We did that song with a band that's a production team called Cash Cash, and they've been friends of mine for many, many years, and we've been looking forward to working together and just kind of waiting for the right song. I'm glad it was this one. What I like about their music is that in general when they do collaborations they seem to support both the melodic structure very heavily and the subject matter of the lyrics seem to be echoed somewhere in the track. In this case, it's kind of like, dare I say, a breezy song, and it gives it a lift. There's a lilt in the way that they produced the song; it's not overly quantized and computerized."
"I had come home from tour and gotten back into my real life, and my wife and I are great when we're together. We do a very good job of handling our lives when we're apart, but that brief period of adjusting to being back together, it's not easy, and I don't know if it should be. We've made this big sacrifice to be apart, and we work hard to be independent, but when we come back together, we have to kind of surrender to the dynamic of being together again, and it's wonderful, but it's just not easy. I came home, and we weren't particularly connecting. We walked downtown to get a cup of coffee. It was kind of a cloudy day, and I was holding her hand, and when the sun came out a little bit, I saw these crooked shadows, and I thought 'Well that's not perfect, but it's beautiful.' So I kind of made a mental note of the words 'crooked shadows,' and that was the next song we wrote, and I felt that if there was gonna be a record, I felt that's what it was gonna be called."
"Open My Eyes"
"Lindsey Stirling [who appears on the track] is a firebrand, man. She leaves such an indelible mark on you personally. She brought so much to the song because obviously everybody knows her skill is incredible, but also her musical mind is incredible. The arrangement is not simple to come up with just because you're a great player. It's another skill set altogether to be a great arranger, and she's a great arranger, but she's also just such a lovely woman."
A very late night inspired that song. That's when rock 'n' roll happens — very late at night. Well, I wrote it late at night with my friend Cory after a late night out with my friend Cory [James Bost], and on another day we recorded it very, very late at night. That song was just destined to live at night; we didn't set out to do this work at night; we just kept finding ourselves doing it that way."
"Just What to Say"
"Chrissy Costanza [who guests on the song] has such a range and beauty in her voice, and I've written a song that I think is possibly my most revealing song and most personally revealing song. It's connected to those other two songs about taking care of each other or being the person to take care of something. This is my admission that no one is perfect, and although I did my best, I will fail, and here's why. Chrissy really understood that, and it shows in her voice and the range of her harmony."
Dashboard Confessional, Beach Slang, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 3, House of Blues, 308 Euclid Ave., 216-523-3583. Tickets: $33.60-$48.60, houseofblues.com.