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July 18, 2018

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Q+A: Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba talks tattoos, music, L.V. — and new album?


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Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional.

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Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional.

Dashboard Confessional Hands Down

Dashboard Confessional Vindicated

Dashboard Confessional Stolen


That was Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional’s response when told that it’s been more than a decade since “Vindicated,” Dashboard’s single for “Spider-Man 2,” starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and James Franco, became a hit, launching the band into the big spotlight.

“The song is our powerhouse. It’s new every night,” Carrabba said. “Eleven years ago, that was the transitional moment that changed our lives, the watershed moment for our band.”

Carrabba, thoughtful and as passionate as ever about music, answered questions over the phone last Friday, the day before the Fourth of July, ahead of his co-headlining tour stop with Third Eye Blind at the Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel on Saturday night.

Thank you for taking the time to talk with me the day before the Fourth of July holiday. What are your plans for the long weekend?

We’re playing shows, and I’m going to get another tattoo. One of my good friends does them for me. We’re going to watch fireworks, and, collectively, the whole tour crew is going to have a Fourth of July party.

A new tattoo? Of what?

I’m not sure yet. I have a couple of ideas. I’m thinking a lightning bolt. Two of the guys in Augustana, one of the opening bands on this tour, were struck by lightning, and the motherf*ckers still showed up to play!

That’s an incredible story. So how’s the summer tour going co-headlining with Third Eye Blind?

Amazing. We have a crossover of fans, so it’s a great fit. But we’re also out there to win over people who wouldn’t otherwise come. We’ve become incredibly close. We’ve wanted to do and talked about doing a tour.

I was a fan of (Third Eye Blind frontman) Stephen (Jenkins). We were fans of each other and talked on the phone about it, and while kicking it around, I thought to myself, “We’re going to be friends.”

This is probably my favorite tour in terms of the camaraderie — from the crew, every band rotating as openers, the production team. We haven’t had a bad day.

Do you enjoy touring?

Yeah. Are you kidding me? It’s the best thing in the whole world. It’s an infinite possibility and opportunity to play music. Let’s be honest: It’s the brass ring. I have an important relationship with my fan base based on my part out of huge gratitude.

I’ve interviewed artists who are members of two acts, but you are heavily involved in three (Dashboard Confessional, Further Seems Further and Twin Forks). Why three bands? And how do you balance all the work?

I love the friends in each band, and the styles of music in each are different. I suffer from insomnia, so the time awake allows me to be creative. A lot of the music styles are so different and rewarding.

I long for one, then want to do the others. My friends are talented and absolutely inspiring to me. They’re musicians who are going to raise my playing because they’re so good.

Balance is not a problem. I have this eagerness to take on more and more. I should probably stop starting bands and enjoy what I have — but a friend and I are thinking about starting another band.

I find all of this to be rewarding and relaxing, especially Twin Forks. Twin Forks is what I’ve always wanted to do as a kid. I’m very passionate about Twin Forks.

Which group are you most involved?

All of them. Further Seems Forever heavily revolves around Josh Colbert and his writing. He is an absolute genius on the level of a classical musician. What’s he’s doing is so complex and inviting.

What are you working on now besides touring?

I write a lot for other people. I wrote “Beautiful Life” for Nick Fradiani, who just won “American Idol.” That was a pretty glorious moment. We’re working on a second Twin Forks record. And outlets like Entertainment Weekly, Time and the Huffington Post have reported that I am making a new Dashboard album, which I didn’t know (laughs)!

That was my next question. How was it reported that another Dashboard album is in the works? It’s been six years since “Alter the Ending.”

Talking with Entertainment Weekly, I said something like, “Of course at some point I’ll make another Dashboard record … and that new Dashboard record became inevitable (laughs).

But we’re back. Let’s say this: It’s really worth thinking about, a new album. But I’m not going to rush it even though we’re excited to be back. It’s just something that happens.

Can you believe it’s been 11 years (2004) since your song “Vindicated” was released with “Spider-Man 2”? The franchise has been rebooted. It means we’re getting old, and I feel OK saying that because we’re the same age.

Whoa. I didn’t know that. The song is our powerhouse. It’s new every night. Eleven years ago, that was the transitional moment that changed our lives, the watershed moment for our band. I can’t believe it. The crowd acts like the song just came out on the radio.

What advice would you give an artist entering the music industry today?

I really have to think for a moment on this one. So much has changed. There is so much great music out there, a lot of talent and luck. Getting to hear your music, recording it well, is easier than ever before. Making a living with it is very difficult.

My advice: Being a live band, being at your best, is the only way to create a following and hope for a future with staying power. A hit song can be an anomaly. Hone your life skills, be fearless, and be OK with being broke for a really long time playing music. Accept it. Use it as a tool to stay hungry later to ascend to the next level.

There is no substitution for live music. Be good on a record, but be better live. Don’t live off the hope of selling a T-shirt. Be better every night, and be grateful. They can listen to anyone. Be grateful, and show it!

Have you been to Las Vegas often? If so, what’s on your must-do list while you’re in Las Vegas?

I’ve been so many times. I like the vintage music shops. The casinos sort of happen after the shows (laughs). Downtown Las Vegas, I like that area. It’s a glimpse of real history.

There is a record store in Las Vegas that gave me a show 15 years ago. I play there, and I always go in and buy records.

In general, there are three things that I do when I go on tour. I 1) bicycle, 2) skateboard and 3) buy clothing from mom-and-pop businesses, really anything from mom-and-pops. I have a small business, and I always like to support small businesses.

Anything else you’d like to add?

The bass player from Third Eye Blind, Alex LeCavalier, is from Las Vegas, and we’re all very excited to see him play in his hometown. Las Vegas has produced in the last decade two of my favorite bands, The Killers and Panic! At the Disco. Las Vegas is a culture that supports creativity in young people. I’m a little envious that I didn’t grow up there. I love Brandon Flowers’ new album.

Dashboard Confessional and Third Eye Blind are at the Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel on Saturday night.

Don Chareunsy is the Las Vegas Sun’s entertainment and luxury senior editor and has been a journalist for nearly two decades.

Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous fame” has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at

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