Chris Carrabba has been making music as Dashboard Confessional for 20 years. In that time he's seen the project evolve from just him and a guitar to a full band; from playing small clubs to huge festivals; from indie to major labels. But success doesn't always mean creative satisfaction, and as Carrabba looked back on some of his albums he didn't have fond memories. Thankfully, he was able to do something about it. Earlier this summer, Dashboard Confessional released Now Is Then Is Now — a triple LP featuring re-imagined versions of the band’s 2003 album A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar, their 2006 album Dusk and Summer, and their 2009 album Alter the Ending.
On Monday (August 12), the first of those three albums turned 16, and to celebrate Rock Sound chatted with Carrabba about how he decided to re-record those particular records.
"I did it to regain spiritual ownership of those three records and to find what I intended to," he said. "I guess I needed a roadmap, back to the start of my career and going forward, to get back to who I wanted to be. I never know whether people will like the songs that I release, but I know myself that recording this project was a good thing. It made me feel unsettled and apprehensive to show people, which is exactly how I felt when I wrote The Swiss Army Romance and The Places You Have Come to Fear The Most, and I had longed to feel that on the records after those."
He then went on to explain how a major label bought out the indie label he was on, and how that affected Dusk and Summer and Alter the Ending. "I listened to the label because I was young and wanted to learn," he admitted. "They made me change arrangements on [Dusk and Summer], and it took a really long time to make. I like making records fast and keeping those natural flaws that occur, I don’t like perfection, but they wanted to make the record more palatable to the masses. In a lot of cases they asked me to change the lyrics from first-person to third-person so that more people could connect with it, but that isn’t how people connect with my music, even though I didn’t realise it at the time."
"Then when Alter The Ending came around, the same thing happened, and I made that record three times to try and please everybody. On my early records, I wasn’t trying to please anybody, I was just writing songs without worrying about pleasing suits, but with Alter The Ending they had me change almost every lyric," he continued. "I felt increasingly disassociated from those albums, and I started to realise that I don’t have a great experience with this period of my music, and I wanted to because I know that those records are some peoples' favourites. I felt like I wanted to be as connected to these three records as I am with my other work."
Though he was reliving his old music, Carrabba also recently released a new album, Crooked Shadows. Dashboard Confessional is currently on tour, playing the festival circuit. Check out a full list of dates on the band's official website.
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