Chris Carrabba Brings Dashboard Confessional Home to South Florida

Dashboard returns to where it all began.
Dashboard returns to where it all began.
Photo by David Bean
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"That address is a landmark for me," Chris Carrabba, the lead singer of emo superband Dashboard Confessional, said about Revolution Live, the location of the group's February 15 show. "Years before it was Revolution, when it used to be the Edge, I saw Fugazi there. We were in line to see Nirvana but had to leave before we could get in for band rehearsal. I saw Jawbreaker there, and I remember thinking, If I work as hard as they do, I could make it."

On a break from fixing his broken bike chain, Carrabba got a bit emotional with New Times as he reminisced about his good fortune of moving to South Florida in the early '90s. "My mom moving her teenage son to Florida was the luckiest break I had. I was embraced by a music scene, a lot of which revolved around that room. Local bands could draw there as much as national bands because we built a community. We would drive from Port St. Lucie to Homestead to see bands and to play music."

While noodling with what will ultimately be Dashboard Confessional's seventh full-length album, hoped to be released later this year, the band put out an EP of four cover songs called Covered and Taped. Carrabba says the EP came out of "old-fashioned boredom and a love of song. We're in some stage of making a record. I don't listen to new music until I finish writing the bulk of a record. But sometimes songs crack through that wall, since you can't just listen to old Joy Division."

Among the tracks on Covered and Taped are two by his good friends: "Sprained Ankle" by Julien Baker and "Using" by Sorority Noise; "Sex" by the 1975 also made the cut. But the Dashboard frontman surprised even himself with the realization that he also wanted to cover "Love Yourself," a Justin Bieber song. Carrabba said he first took notice of Bieber as a kid. "But there wasn't anything but his singing chops to take notice of. His songs weren't made for me. But 'Love Yourself' is strikingly bare and powerful. It's incisive, and there's even a bit of levity when he says, 'My mama don't like you, and she likes everyone.'?"

Carrabba says that Dashboard Confessional started out with cover songs and that winding his way through someone else's words, melodies, and chords often helps him find inspiration to create his own music. "To cover a song, you have to deduce why the song is played so much and then find your own voice in it. You can reinterpret the song, that's how I do it most often, or you can try to get in their deep groove. It's surprisingly fertile territory that can get you into a mindset of touching what they touch."

Carrabba had so much fun covering that there were three tracks he had to cut from the EP, though he is loath to reveal which ones. "I don't want to hurt any feelings," he jokes. "It wasn't the fault of the songs. They seemed like they would fit somewhere else. When I listen to music, I find connective tissue through albums. I try to find ones that are semirelated. These songs didn't feel like they had a partner."

For now, Carrabba says he's happy to take Dashboard back to where it all began. "I'm homesick and eager to get back to Florida. Half of my family is there, and many of my friends that I met that are my surrogate family are there. I'll have a full guest list."

Dashboard Confessional
6:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 15, at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale; jointherevolution.net; 954-449-1025. Tickets cost $26.50 via ticketmaster.com.

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