Between two bands and his own work, Chris Carrabba's having a bit of an identity crisis these days.
"I've been writing in all kinds of directions," the Dashboard Confessional founder tells Billboard.com. "I've writing some things that are outside of the Dashboard domain...And I'm writing some things for the band I'm in, which is difficult to straddle -- it's always difficult to straddle if you do more than one thing." Add to that a new album Carrabba is working on with his pre-Dashboard band Further Seems Forever, and he's cheerfully all over the map.
"I remember really early on I was sort of shamelessly in six or 10 bands all at once," notes Carrabba, who heads out on a solo tour Nov. 17 in Chicago. "And then once I got into Dashboard I kind of forgot how rewarding it was to work wtih different groups of people on different styles of music, playing different instruments in different bands and what that brings you, as a writer, later on. So, yeah, I guess I've been bouncing around between so many things."
The prospect of solo music is particularly intriguing to anybody who's followed Carrabba's career. Dashboard Confessional, after all, was started as an acoustic side project while he was in Further Seems Forever and evolved into a full-fledged band of its own. So finding a separate sound 11 years later, Carrabba says, "took a long time to figure out."
"What makes a post-Dashboard Chris Carrabba different from a Dashboard Chris Carrabba? They're sort of one of the same," he says. "I think I've figured out a truly different point of view and also a different stylistic delivery that makes a non-Dashboard Chris Carrabba song. So I've been working on that a lot, and it seems to be doing it on its own now that I figured out what it is." That sound, he says, is marked by a different way of playing guitar, which in turn affects the kind of melodies he's writing. "In Dashboard I have parameters that I myself set up," he explains. "I would resist a lot of my instincts as to where I take a song or a melody or a story. I don't have to do that with this sort of new, undefined terrain I've stepped into."
Nevertheless, Carrabba expects to first finish the album with the reunited Further Seems Forever, the group's first since 2004's "Hide Nothing." "I've been working on it the longest, and it's the closest to being done," he notes. "The idea of what this record is, it's concrete to us and we're implementing it. It's a rocker, for sure. Plus, I'm not completely 100 percent zeroed in on the other things."
That includes Dashboard's follow-up to 2009's "Alter the Ending." Carrabba says he has "a bunch of disparate songs" gathered for the group so far. "I'm proud of each one but can't quite see the relationship of one to the next. It always makes me really wary of, 'Are you doing this for the wrong reasons? Are you trying to finish because you don't have a record?' As I start to find that relationship between the songs, I'll basically free myself up from that pressure and be able to move forward."
Carrabba's eight-date solo tour wraps up Dec. 4 in Philadelphia.