He’s a man in hiding. Pretentious enough to believe he is the voice of his generation but also timid. Chris Carraba veils himself in the moniker Dashboard Confessional, a name whose soul is his alone. Employing simple song structure, stripped down acoustic sounds and a slew of heartbroken lyrics, Carraba has made a name for himself spreading stories of pain and rejection across the punk and mainstream circuits.
In person, Carraba, is unimposing. He’s shorter and skinnier than you’d expect given the blazing tattoos lining each arm. There’s an air of self-importance about him, as if he believes he’s 10 feet tall. With newfound MTV support (“Screaming Infidelities” is currently getting play time), selling out D.C.’s 9:30 Club is hardly a challenge for Carraba, a reality of which he seems all too aware.
Currently on Vagrant Records, Carraba has released two records, the most recent of which, The Places You Have Come To Fear the Most, has gained him legions of adoring young fans.
Introspective and emotional as his songs may be, Carraba himself is reserved and arrogant. Let’s just say he is less than friendly.
(Editor’s note: Commentary on my thoughts during the interview are added in italics to add context to questions and responses.)
Hatchet: What’s up dude?
Chris Carraba: Hey.
Hatchet: How’s the tour going?
Carraba: It’s been amazing.
He seems unenthusiastic. Maybe I could appeal to him on a more personal level?
Hatchet: Word on the street is that you’re on MTV now.
Carraba: Yeah, that’s the word.
I’d be excited if my video was on MTV. Why isn’t he?
Hatchet: That’s pretty exciting for you?
Carraba: Yeah. It is.
Sure doesn’t sound like it.
Hatchet: When did you find out that was going to happen?
Carraba: When we made the video, we knew it would get spun a couple times.
Now he’s mocking me.
Hatchet: When you came out last time I noticed that it was less of you alone acoustically and more of a full band. Would you say you’re looking to incorporate more musicians?
His face ruffles almost angrily and for the first time I think he’s paying attention to me.
Carraba: It was all acoustic.
Hatchet: What’s that?
Carraba: As a band we were all playing acoustic guitars. I’m not really sure what you’re asking.
Neither am I. Was he just not listening to my question?
Hatchet: I asked about MTV. On your video, it’s you and a bunch of guys. Are you a full band now?
Carraba: We’re becoming a full band. We’ve been playing as a band for years.
Why didn’t you just say that the first time?
Hatchet: Are you moving in a more rock direction?
Carraba: We’re not really moving away from anything, we’re moving toward other things.
Hatchet: How do you feel that you fit in with other bands on your label, more pop-punk oriented groups?
Carraba: I honestly don’t know how different my music is from all that.
But you play acoustic folk guitar. Don’t you want to differentiate between that and punk rock?
Hatchet: Where do you go for inspiration for your songs?
Carraba: I drink a lot of coffee, and I write.
I give him a look begging for some elaboration on something, anything at all.
Hatchet: Do your songs come from specific experiences? Do you come home pissed at a girl and write it down?
Carraba: I hold all my feeling in for a long time. One day I’ll wake up, and I’ll feel particularly bad. Then I’ll write, and I’ll feel worse. Then at the end of the day I’ll feel better.
Hatchet: Are you really that emotional. Do you think you’re melodramatic about relationships?
Carraba: It’s about the worst stage of feeling bad. I don’t write about it until I feel really bad.
I want to write a song about this interview, because I’m feeling some pain myself.
Hatchet: Do a lot of girls fawn over you now, because they think you’re sensitive? I know my ex-girlfriend thought you were way hotter than I was. It really hurt my self-confidence.
Carraba: Wow dude, I don’t know what to say to that. I’m sorry that happened, but it’s not my fault, I didn’t do it.
I guess he doesn’t like jokes.
Hatchet: Seriously though, do girls come up to you?
Carraba: Not really, no one really treats me any differently.
Hatchet: The first time I saw you, you spoke about the mission of Dashboard, said it was about more than just you. What are you trying to do with your music?
Maybe he’ll at least give a long quote on the mission of his music, or something like that.
Carraba: I think that the mission is to connect with as many people as possible, to have an experience together. I spend a lot of time on stage by myself, and it still feels like a band.
Hatchet: I don’t understand what you mean.
Carraba: It feels like there are other people out there with me. It’s not just me.
Umm . OK.
Hatchet: What’s the writing process like now? Do you guys work it out as a band, or do you throw it around alone?
Carraba: I hear it in my head when I’m writing the song.
Hatchet: So you just let the guys know what they should play?
Hatchet: Why are you successful?
It’s certainly not for your kind manners.
Carraba: I attribute it to the kids. They pass the records around.
Hatchet: Are you worried about your popularity waning?
Carraba: I’m old enough to see the ebb and tide of the indie rock scene. It comes in waves.
Hatchet: Do you think you can ride the wave?
Carraba: I don’t know what else I could do?
How about the IRS maybe, or working in a butcher’s shop?