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  • Vasili Papathanasopoulos


All The Truth That I Can Tell is out now!

Image: Nick Fancher.

The musical project of Chris Carrabba, Dashboard Confessional recently unveiled their eighth studio album, All The Truth That I Can Tell. We caught up with Carrabba to chat about the body of work, the craft of songwriting, touring alongside his idols and more!

Congratulations on a great body of work with All The Truth That I Can Tell. The album touches on a number on concepts, but there’s one particular overriding thread of owning your responsibility to yourself and to other people and recalling on moments and people or things in time that fills you with life. What prompted that conceptual exploration?

What prompted it is a really good question. It's hard to say if it was any one thing, I think on occasion in my writing career, I've been able to get much more introspective, even compared to my normal level of introspection which is already pretty deep. In those few times, I think I found the most sort of fruitful results of my whole catalogue by that. I mean, personally, you know?

Yeah, I kind of feel there's this very real sense of honesty embedded within this album. I don't wanna say more so than your previous albums, but I think it's very distinct on this for record. How did you approach creating this body of work that maybe differed to your previous releases? I know you were unsure if you’d release another album after 2018’s Crooked Shadows.

I was unsure, and if it's okay I'll relate it back to the other records. Before I started Crooked Shadows, I wondered if that was the record I wanted to make. It wasn't, and I had to ask myself these questions because I'm in a little bit of a rarefied place, that I never really expected to be where it's just like I could decide to not make any more records should I want to. I've made a fine living, I feel like I've made an artistic statement that I'm proud of. If I felt I needed to walk away, I had that choice. So really it came down to do I feel the need to make another record and I did. The only piece of disappointment I had with it back then was that I've been wanting to make a record like The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most and The Swiss Army Romance since I finished recording The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most. It was a long wait, but it turned out that it just was not the kind of thing you can force, though I tried a few times to sort start the engine a little harder. I had to wait patiently and I had to wait longer than felt fair. I had to wait long enough that I felt like, 'oh, okay, wait, that doesn't come back. That simply was just a moment in time'. Then I made Crooked Shadows accepting like, 'okay, let me find if there's another thing I have to say that doesn't include that depth. So that was an informative piece of the puzzle, because I think that was a piece of the process that helped me gain acceptance of two things: that I really wanted another record that was as bare and honest and that I was really gonna have to be okay, begin some kind of artist if it wasn't gonna come back. And it wasn't immediate after that, It was another couple of years. I did find my way to one of those moments of deep introspection coupled with some uncommon inspiration. It was uncommon to me, even though in my field work is really drawn from inspiration. I got it. I got the moment I'd been laying in wait for a long, long time and when I got it, I did everything I could to stay there until I'd made a complete statement across a number of songs.

That thought of wanting to recapture something but also finding a sense of fulfilment if it doesn't return is so interesting. You started working on the album in 2019 I believe, and a lot has happened since then, not only with the world but you were involved in a near-fatal motorcycle accident. What are your thoughts listening to the album now, after quite an intense few years?

You know, so there's this long break between the recording of the record and the actual like mixing, where you go to consider all the pieces of the record and what separated it was the onset of COVID, and then just strictly personally, I had this accident that removed me further from the process. Coming back to it, I was relieved to find out it was as good. When I say good I mean of that kind of focus that I'd been hoping was in the songs, it was replete with those things. What it surprised me to find was the record seemed to, if I didn't note myself I would've thought that there were lines across the record that I would've written after the accident and the recovery, and even after COVID. They just seemed to point to things so specifically that I hadn't experienced yet that I would very shortly after. It's an eerie feeling to understand that there was some heavy weight to what I was writing about in terms of personal life experience and the sound of someone grappling with those things. But the life experience was not just reserved to my life previously, it seemed to resonate with who I would become. That made me feel really, made me feel that this record is special. Like who knows, will it connect with lots of people? Who knows one can hope. Will it be celebrated as a standout of the records I've made? Who knows one can only hope. But what it is to me, what it does share to me with those early records, those first couple records that I made as Dashboard, is this unique way that it is very specifically about something that happened before, and remains to be very specifically about the things that happened after those songs were written. I've had a few moments of that in my life and that's where you get into the stuff I look at the craft of writing and I take it seriously. I looked at the art of writing and understand it is an art form. There's this one extra thing that's really just plain mysterious that floats in and out of any writer's life. Even the good ones lose it sometimes, or it's not available to them, sometimes even the great ones. And even the okay ones get it and become great, you know. It's this extra thing that none of us get to understand and shouldn't probably.

Yeah, that's so special. And so what impact do you think creating All The Truth That I Can Tell has left on you moving forward creatively?

I was speaking earlier about how badly I wanted to get back to that place. I wanted to get back to it because I had moved beyond it. Or it had moved beyond me maybe is a better way to say it, certainly is a better way to say it. I was hoping to visit with it again and, and now that I have and I'm so keenly aware of how rare it is in the grand scope of things, I am a little bit more fiercely holding onto it than I would've known to do the first round. So even as we sit here discussing a record that's done, I'm thinking about staying in the moment just without forcing it. So like I'm writing little bits of stuff. I'm purposefully not finishing this stuff, like every day I write like a little section and intentionally don't finish it because I'm trying to keep the thing tethered to the next record.

That's so cool and interesting, finding a way to keep it alive. Which three songs off All The Truth That I Can Tell would you play to someone, who had never heard your music, to make them an instant fan?

That's a tough one to know the answer to. I suppose I would say Burning Heart would be an easy one to choose because it was the one that announced itself to me in a way that it was like, 'oh, there's not just this song, there's this moment I've been looking for' and it was leading to the other songs, I knew it. So that would be the one I'd share I believe without question. I could pick any other two on any given time, but because you're asking me right now at this very time, I'll pick two more. How about maybe Me and Mine and Young. It's really very difficult to say, but those three ones I could pick out out as, I mean then there's the other things you go like, 'well, which part of you are you trying to show them that illustrates who you are'. Because then I would pick Sunshine State in there too instead. Man, it's an impossible question to answer.

Love it. Is there any particular line or lyric from the album that you find will get stuck in your head more often than other lyrics, or the line that you're most proud of?

There are a lot of lines in the record that I'm proud of. Hard to pick just, you know. I'll give you a stanza that I think encapsulates what I found to sit down writing this song and found myself thinking of the past and found myself thinking about who I've become and how you get there and found it in and of itself to be a epiphanous that 'wait, the is something people do?'. At a certain age, they stop and they look backwards. I found that to be surprising, even though it's sort of like a commonplace thing to know about the world and there's a lyric that says, "well, nobody told me just how badly I'd grieve, that I'd dig through my past, that I'd keep looking back to find out who I wanted to be." I wouldn't say there's a positive or negative slant on any of that. I was asking myself, who am I? Who do I want to be? Who was I? Who did I wanna be? How is it all reconciled? It's funny like the grief line almost kept me from saying it. But I said it to you anyway, because I'm comfortable with the fact that it's a little colourful. It was really born out of the fact that when you're someone like me who is very hungry for what the future holds, you're experiential. You do get a little of the flip side of missing, it's been left behind. Grief is not the right word, but it's the one that rhymed [laughs].

You’ll be hitting the road with Jimmy Eat World and also have some headline shows. What can audiences expect from this run of shows after an altered live music scene over the past two years?

It's a big year after all after a couple of quiet years. The first thing up is this co-headlining tour with Jimmy Eat World. Yes, I'm one of the co-head learners, but I'm also probably the biggest Jimmy Eat World fan that they have. So like it's the first tour of my own that I've been excited about in the exact same way a fan is excited about a tour. I've certainly felt that waiting for other tours I was going to see that I wasn't involved in. This is sort of the first of my own I've felt this excited this way, as a fan. So what a joyful way to start the year off, with that kind of combination because I'm like, 'Hey, like I get to play and I get to see a band I love so dearly. And then we have several festivals throughout the year. We have another headlining tour throughout the year. It's going to be a really beautiful time assuming, big assumption, assuming things just kind of continue to improve with COVID and with this state of safety. Yeah. We are not being anything but careful. Careful optimism, I'm optimistic. I should say I hate to have careful optimism, I like to have just unrestrained optimism. But instead, careful optimism and unrestrained excitement about the year to come.

What impact do you think live music has had on your career and how important is it to you in terms of making that in person connection with audiences who relate to your music?

Making records for me has always been incidental. Isn't that a weird thing to say? A recording artist, that's the whole job. But really, I've always looked at them as something that facilitates your relationship with an audience that is practice material for you all to use until you're in the room together. So the album always remains to me a very close second to the live experience. So that exemplifies how important these live shows are and specifically the live community, the interaction of human beings that I've celebrated with for all these years that we've celebrated music. Not just mine, not just music, the idea of it. Specifically to bands, we share in common lots, and my bands music, which I'm honoured, they would want to share with me.


Biggest influences?

R.E.M., The Cure, Counting Crows, Paul Simon, Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Joni Mitchell.

Dream collaboration?

I have many dream collaborations. I'll give you one. Anaïs Mitchell. She's one of the most shockingly gifted songwriters I've ever heard. I know her only a little bit, I'm just one of these people that lives in awe of the idea that I live in the same time of who I believe will become a legend in this craft.

Album that has had the most impact on you?

You know when you're at that age, you get 'em all at once. And so you're so deeply attached to each of them. I can only think of them as one, even though there's three. So there's Disintegration by The Cure. There's Automatic For The People by REM and there's 13 Songs by Fungazi. Which in my memory I got in the same week, but probably can't be.

If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?

That's a tough one. I think I love these films because the music that's in them is affecting me already. Yeah. How about I get to play on the soundtrack that exists in the movie that I love so much? Because I think the haunting nature of the No Country For Old Men soundtrack quite the fits its visual power and to have been the guitarist on that would've been a joy.

First concert you went to?

I think it possibly was Aerosmith.

Best concert you have been to?

There's just so many. I'll pick a recent one. Kacey Musgraves.

First album you ever bought?

The first album I ever bought with my own money Prince's Purple Rain, the single.

Would you rather be a Spice Girl or a Backstreet Boy?

Spice Girl. But they both seem like they're having the best times of their lives. Tough. That's a Sophie's choice.

If you were a Spice Girl, what would your spice nickname be?

Tentative Spice.

Most memorable show you’ve ever performed?

I'll tell you the one that stands out as the most memorable as I sit here today, but I will be surprised when I look over my whole career if it's not among them or the one. But my first show, my first real show back after my accident was at a historic theatre in Nashville, which already carries a lot of memories for me, called the Ryman Auditorium. Having a show like that after having had to wonder if I'd ever have any show anywhere ever again was remarkable.

An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry.

Wow. That is a big question. So many running through my head. Because you could say Taylor Swift. You could say Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan and Paul Simon. Mariah Carey. Oh my god. I think I'd say Bruce Springsteen,

What advice would your current self, give your future self, for a year from now?

I would say remember you don't have to make up for lost time.

The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?

I don't remember not wanting to.

All The Truth That I Can Tell is out now!


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