Dashboard Confessional Has Nothing To 'Fear' In 2002

It only took a year for singer/songwriter Chris Carrabba to turn his acoustic project Dashboard Confessional into an underground phenomenon. His second album, "The Places You Have Come To Fear the Mos

It only took a year for singer/songwriter Chris Carrabba to turn his acoustic project Dashboard Confessional into an underground phenomenon. His second album, "The Places You Have Come To Fear the Most," has sold 83,000 copies for Vagrant, and Dashboard's first national headlining club tour sold out in almost every city.

"It was definitely the most fruitful year I've ever experienced," Carrabba says from his hometown of Boca Raton, Fla. "Everything that I tackled, everything I had been working for many years to make happen, came to fruition this last year."

For a musician that struggled in South Florida punk bands like the Vacant Andys, the Agency, and Further Seems Forever for years, Carrabba's success -- and particularly the recent fall tour -- was welcomed with a gracious heart. "The best thing to happen this year musically was this first headlining tour. Especially for the core of the band. I'm the original member but the core group is Dan [Bonebrake] and Mike [Marsh]." Carrabba explains. "For us, all that legwork we put in and this tour not only being successful but as successful as it was, really blew our minds."

Dashboard Confessional owes most of its success to a rabid fanbase that gobbles up records and attends concerts like they were religious gatherings. Since Carrabba's earliest club shows, fans have sang back his emotional lyrics about relationships and heartache loudly enough to overpower the acoustic performer. And now there are bigger crowds than ever. "It was incredibly gratifying to know that those kids, they're not getting any less passionate," he says. "They're bringing even more of their friends to share it with."

Carrabba's recent rise in popularity has translated to feature articles in Rolling Stone and Spin and an appearance on CBS' "The Craig Kilborn Show" last October. But the singer tries to avoid any labels of fame. "To clarify for someone that doesn't really know: in a specific sub-genre of music I have some notoriety," he says. "I don't know that it's true fame. I don't know if it's as weird as being Britney Spears. Obviously its not."

Most of Dashboard Confessional's songs revolve around personal heartbreak and suffering, and these topics, which teenage fans relate to on an emotional level, make Carrabba seem more like a friend than a rock star. "When they come and talk to me they're not like, 'Oh my gosh, I can't believe its you.' If they care to talk to me it's really congenial and thought out," he offers. "And it's cool for me because I get to have a pretty awesome conversation, usually. Of course if it's at one of my shows there's a lot of them. So those conversations don't get to be as long or intimate as if I bump into them at a restaurant or a bar."

In December, Vagrant released Dashboard Confessional's "So Impossible" EP. The collection of four songs revolves around a budding romantic relationship and sports a positive tone that is a noticeable departure for Carrabba. "I think it's so openly hopeful," he says. "I don't want to be corny but nobody feels love in their life like they feel when they're a teenager. Because, the possibilities are infinite and your capacity for feeling hasn't been hammered down by the world." Of course after two albums and a year of touring with songs that detail that very kind of hammering, the upbeat songs were welcome relief.

"Having to sort through my demons again and again, night in and night out pretty much the whole entire year, and keeping all that at the surface level, made for some sleepless nights," Carrabba says.

The EP also features former Sunny Day Real Estate guitarist Dan Hoerner, who joined the band for the fall tour but parted ways shortly after it wrapped up in December. "I'm as proud of that EP as anything I've done," he says. "But it's just supplemental for my fans. I've released a lot of music in a short amount of time and I see no reason to stop."

Carrabba has another EP in the works for a spring release and will be working on his second album for Vagrant later in the year (thus squashing rumors of an impending major label deal). In the meantime, Dashboard will embark on a six-week U.S. tour that begins March 1 in Ft. Worth, Texas, and wraps April 17 in Pompano Beach, Fla.

"Screaming Infidelities," the first single from "Places," was recently remixed by Andy Wallace (Nirvana, Disturbed), while the video for the song premieres today (Feb. 7) on MTV2. The music video channel has already given the track exposure by including it on its "Handpicked" compilation, released last month by Columbia.

"I stayed in the studio for three weeks and did 'Places' and then it went to get pressed," Carrabba says. "And then it was out. So there was no set-up time. I don't think they began to 'work it' in the traditional sense until a couple months ago. So they're still doing things like releasing a single now."

While both Bonebrake and Marsh recorded and toured in a side project called Seville last year, Marsh will remain as drummer for Dashboard Confessional permantly while Bonebrake will contribute to the band when it doesn't conflict with Seville's schedule.

All in all, Carrabba is enjoying the long-sought-after success. "It was an amazingly brilliant year," he beams. "I got to meet so many people and I got to go everywhere in the country. I definitely worked my ass off but it's been just about as good as I could have ever dreamed."

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