“I don’t know if I’m getting a better handle on it” Chris Carrabba tells BLUNT about the shadow work that goes into creating a Dashboard Confessional album, “But, I can tell you what I am having is a deeper gratitude than ever about it.”
Known for his ability to punch a whole right through you with the most gentle lyrics, Chris Carrabba is all too aware of the impact his songs have on his listeners and as a result, doesn’t rush his process. His latest, All The Truth That I Can Tell, out Friday, 25th February, was four years in the making, taking his time to carefully craft out precisely what he means to say. With a largely acoustic songbed, Dashboard Confessional leaves little in the way of it’s frontman as he digs deep within to find his stories and turn them into song. A process he expands on: “There’s two stages.” Carrabba begins…
“Stage one is that burst of creative moments. I feel like I am a guy that surrenders to the moment. Stage two is the editing, you’re really doing craft work. You’re applying your years of study to your craft. I also don’t pretend to know the right way. I’m just saying the way I’ve just seen it happen for me. I get out of the way, because it’s coming, take a deluge, and then you’re able to also craft it into form a little better later on.”
All The Truth That I Can Tell follows stories of love, loss, acceptance, getting knocked down and getting back up again. Throughout his 20 year career, Carrabba has made a mofit out of going 12-rounds with himself for the sake of his music.; quite often there’s also a riveting subplot of learning. But the stories tend to fall short of victory. But this isn’t the result of any defeat.
“I’m comfortable with who I am. Let’s start there.” He says of his ability to self-critique. “I’m proud of the things that I’ve done well. I’m aware of the things that I haven’t .”
“I’m trying to grow like everybody else. I’m also really confident in the things that I think I’m best at, even if I’d like to be better at them. I don’t find it that rewarding to just wax poetic about the shit I’ve already figured out. There’s no intrigue, I already know the answer to that.”
So, we shouldn’t hold our breaths for anything too self-congratulatory from Dashboard: “That’s not my lot in life as a writer. I can’t seem to get there, but I’m okay to be there as a human being.”
The album also steers clear of what could be called “current events”, something many of his peers are all too concerned, and rightfully so, when it comes to writing new material. Despite respecting those who do “I think Sufjan Stevens did it in a way that struck me really deeply,” Carrabba continues to find inspiration inside, despite how much more there might be going on outside.
“What I feel is the grappling to understand it myself. That will eventually come out in song for me. If I’m grappling with trying to understand the world or my place in it, I tend to find songs in there.”
“I’ve seldom felt that responsibility to just fill the void of need societally. I don’t know that I’m out of step, I don’t feel like I got to rush to give the answer because I’m also wondering what the hell the answer is. I’m one of us also wondering what the answer is.”
That doesn’t mean All The Truth That I Can Tell lacks real-world application. Lines such as “Here’s to waking up/here’s to sleeping well for once” from the aptly titled ‘Here’s To Moving On’ or “I thought for a bit there I’d never be able to deal/But I make some coffee and I’ll take a shower and I start to heal” from the same song seem more relevent than ever; or perhaps the simple but effective fulcrum of ‘Pain Free In Three Chords’ which reminds us that none of us are without our internal struggles.
He laughs, “Isn’t that the way that your life experience stumbles in, indirectly into your songs?”
As well as the new album, Dashboard Confessional are also part of the internet-breaking When We Were Young festival, happening in North America. Carrabba explains that the excitement around the festival goes deeper than the announcement, “I don’t want to sound like I’m being magnanimously selfless here, because I was excited for myself, but here’s the thing, with the way I view it…”
“I think pop culture moved on from my scene, as it does, as it will for every scene. You have your moment and maybe your moment lasts longer or shorter than you’d like, and maybe it comes back a few times.
I’ve been very fortunate that my audience has pretty much stayed the same since I first was successful til now. I’m so thrilled that I have a relationship with my audience like that. What I got really excited about was that when I had my success and some of my peers like My Chemical Romance their success, it was the rising tide that floated all boats. A lot of bands that were having trouble getting attention, suddenly got attention they deserved, but weren’t getting, and it’s happening again.
I did get to see a lot of my friends’ bands get some revitalising energy and attention that they richly deserve. I’m just really excited that I’ll get to be there that day, too, with them and the way that it, as they say, broke the internet, was a fucking good time. I’ll be honest with you, it was fun to see.”
Living on the other side of the planet, AKA a long and expensive flight away, it’s tough to imagine anything quite like When We Were Young happening in Australia however Carrabba, a regular visitor sees hope for our part of the world yet, “I don’t know about never.”