Dashboard Confessional's founding singer/songwriter, Chris Carrabba, was having a hard time deciding whether his next album should be a full-on electric rock project or a stripped-down, acoustic affair when he came up with a novel solution. On Nov. 10, when the band releases its sixth album, "Alter the Ending" (Interscope), fans will be able to buy both versions of the same collection of songs.
While the regular edition of the release contains electric versions of songs, the deluxe version comes with a second recording of the same songs done acoustically, for an extra $3.
Carrabba says the acoustic set still features the full band, but with a minimalist approach more reminiscent of when the group was mostly a solo project in the early 2000s. "I can even point to one track, and I won't tell you which it is, that was my least favorite track once completed on the full-band version of 'Alter the Ending,' even though other people love it," Carrabba says. "And the acoustic version has become my favorite song on the record."
The two versions of "Alter the Ending" strike a balance between Carrabba's 2007 release, "The Shade of Poison Trees" (Vagrant)-which his manager and Vagrant Records founder Rich Egan calls a "fans-only" record-and the 2006 "Dusk and Summer" (Interscope). " 'The Shade of Poison Trees' was kind of a between-records record for the fans. It was an acoustic record that we decided to put out on six weeks' notice and we didn't involve our partners at Interscope," Egan says. "We weren't going for big sales debuts, we weren't playing the chart game. It was really more of a solo record."
"Poison Trees," which didn't have a commercial single or extensive promotion, still reached No. 18 on the Billboard 200 and has sold 152,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Dashboard's two records prior to that, "Dusk" and "A Mark, a Mission, a Brand, a Scar," both debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and sold 559,000 and 922,000, respectively. " 'Poison Trees' was meant for the diehard fans that had been with us from the get-go, and I was confident that they would find out about it without a lot of gregarious marketing," Carrabba says.
As for the band's upcoming tour with New Found Glory, Never Shout Never and Meg & Dia, Carrabba says the performance style of the new songs will be decided on the fly. "We made an agreement the other day that we were going to do very little planning now for this tour," he says. "I guess we'll just take our temperature in how we feel about the music that night and decide."
He says fans can also expect Dashboard and New Found Glory to play some of each other's music and, according to New Found Glory guitarist Chad Gilbert, the two bands will release a covers album.
Carrabba, who says his interaction with fans has traditionally been one on one, has also been active on Twitter. Although he says he's "very late" to the microblogging site, he's become a prolific tweeter with more than 13,500 followers. (After this conversation, he posted, "The wait here at Conan is filled with interviews billboard and spin. It starting to feel like we have an album coming out!")
"It's interesting to have that kind of access to the audience that has embraced you, and you know as well as I do that you don't get to choose the audience that embraces you," he says. "I've been lucky in that I feel that I can actually relate to the people that do listen to my music on a personal level."