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- Posted on Jul 30th 2012 1:00PM by Erik Leijon
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Carrabba's still writing every day and is also working on music with his former band Further Seems Forever, but he says he's not feeling the pressure to drop a new Dashboard Confessional record until he's ready.
He spoke to Spinner about computer woes, still digging his older material and where his head's at these days.
So what are you working on these days?
I have this thing I'm doing with Further Seems Forever, which was this band that I used to be in before Dashboard, and assuming we can continue working we'll have a full-length.
What about Dashboard Confessional?
It's hard to say where I'm at with Dashboard because I'm always writing stuff -- that's still the thing I do for fun -- but I've had six records, along with EPs and everything else, and I'm resisting the temptation to rush it right now.
What happened was maybe a year and a half ago I had essentially a whole Dashboard album done and recorded, or demoed out at least. I had this problem in my studio and I lost all the drives of all the music I had ever made.
They weren't backing up correctly so the studio manager, or assistant, was trying to rewrite the macro so that when it was saved to one it overwrote previous backups of sessions, just on this one session we were working on, but somehow all the drives that were linked got wiped during this process and unfortunately I had brought in a drive that contained most of the stuff I had done in the past and the album I was working on.
So I took that as a sign. I probably would have been here with you talking about the record I had put out a year ago if that hadn't happened. But it really made me take a long hard look at what I was looking for as a writer now. And the simple answer was I didn't want to record those songs again, which was alarming to me. If the songs were that good I would have demanded to myself that I go record them again. I was upset about that record being gone, and more upset about the other records being gone, but I was more like, "if I'm not losing my mind to record them again maybe they weren't the right songs."
In that sense it was probably fortunate because maybe I wouldn't have come to that conclusion and I would have been down a different path now. I think I'm writing better music now that's more meaningful to me, that I'm more connected to personally. If I had to look at the arc of my records that's what I like more about certain moments: the ones I can tell that I was so personally connected to. I can kind of tell through hindsight that I'm still connected to those songs all those years and performances later. You'd think the repetition would have stolen my connection, that doing the same thing over and over again would have sapped my joy, but it hasn't. So if I'm honest about the latter records, there were less moments of that than there were with the first two-thirds of my career as a recording artist.
Why was that?
I think there's this weird period of growth that writers go through. You start out with less skill but there's a mystery you can't explain that's so inspiring, that you can create things that are beyond your skillset. And then at some point down the road you become more skilled and maybe you become great at it, and you lose the mystery a bit, it loses some of its potency. But then, as I'm discovering now, when that skill level you're at becomes your normal place, the mystery slowly creeps back in.
How do you feel about the lyrics from your older songs these days?
It's surprising how there's still territory left to mine there. The parameters of my more adult life still seem to apply to those songs, albeit very differently and for different reasons. Not all of them: some of them came from a specific time and a place, some of them are embarrassing and some I can't believe they resonate with me today. I was such a different person back then. That's where I realize I got really lucky with some of my lyrics, I don't know necessarily where they came from, I just know they've been good to me.
What are you writing about now?
I write about the things I experience in my life, but also things I wish I could experience, things I've read about or seen in movies that brings me down the road of creativity, but it's only in assembling them later where I understand the predominant emotional hue in my life at the time.
I don't know what I was writing about in the old days. It seemed really obvious to everyone that I was writing these heartbreak songs, or wanderlust, but it wasn't all that obvious to me in the moment. When I first sang them into a dictophone and thematically saw what was going on it was really eye opening -- this was a heavy thing I was dealing with and I didn't realize how much I was using it for songwriting. Everyone else has the advantage of perspective; I didn't as I was doing it. I don't have it now.