Any longtime fan of Dashboard Confessional knows the impossibility of singing Chris Carrabba’s angsty hymns at a reasonable volume. You can only scream-sing, cry-sing, wail in your car, or reminiscence about those days of adolescence that were at once simpler, yet somehow sooo much more emotionally complicated.
After all, what would your AIM away messages have been without melodramatic lines from “Screaming Infidelities” or “The Best Deceptions” to speak on behalf of your crestfallen soul?
But that was then; Dashboard is back for Act II and will release the new LP Crooked Shadows on Feb. 9, the band’s outfit’s album in more than eight years. In preparation, we asked artists from all corners of the soundscape — from Nothing, Nowhere. to Taylor Swift — about the Dashboard songs that rocked their musical world, shaped their careers and instantly bring them back to their dubious “but why doesn’t he/she like me?!” teen years.
Taylor Swift, global pop star who booked Carrabba for her childhood friend’s birthday party in 2015:
“‘Hands Down’ is a time capsule of teenage romance. Every detail in the song is a brushstroke of that visceral drama, that anticipation, and the anxious trepidation all leading up to a climactic moment of victorious bravery that pays off better than you dreamt it would. Chris Carrabba whispers, then croons, then screams this story of ‘doing nothing at all.’ The result, in my opinion, is perfection.”
Kacey Musgraves, country star and not-so-secret Dashboard diehard who was seen belting out all the oldies at Dashboard’s Nashville show last year.
“While it’s an impossible task to pick one favorite Dashboard song, I do remember falling in LOVE with the gritty, raw emotion of The Places You Have Come to Fear The Most I was new to learning guitar and trying to write songs from my own perspective and this encapsulated the idea that I could write about what I was going through. I also love ‘Again I Go Unnoticed,’ and the ever-iconic ‘Screaming Infidelities’!”
Cash Cash, famed electronic trio and collaborators on Dashboard’s new album, for the song “Belong.”
“Dashboard Confessional’s unique style of acoustic emotional anthems herded the masses including us growing up. Songs like “Screaming Infidelities,” “Hands Down,” & “The Best Deceptions” are only a few of many that stuck with us and influenced us musically. Creating Belong with Chris was an amazing experience that made for one of our favorite collabs to date.”
Nothing, Nowhere., the ascendant rap-rocker who used Dashboard’s emo sensibilities (and a Chris Carrabba guest appearance) to fuel his acclaimed debut Reaper — The New York Times named it the best album of 2017.
“The Swiss Army Romance and Dashboard in general was the soundtrack to my adolescence. Chris’ lyrics had a profound effect on me, and was a driving force for me making my own music. One song I’ve cherished is a deeper cut, called “The Sharp Hint of New Tears.” I was young and had never really heard such a stripped-down song. Growing up is hard and I’d never heard vulnerable lyrics like that — it hit me in a deep way. I still feel same way I did as a kid when I hear it. No song brings me back like that one.
Emo Nite L.A. co-founder TJ Petracca, whose uber-popular events were inspired by singing Dashboard karaoke years ago.
“For me it’s probably [the song] “The Swiss Army Romance.” Dashboard was sort of my gateway drug into emo music; my first girlfriend broke up with me and I stumbled across them on Limewire or something and I immediately felt everything Chris Carrabba was singing. I downloaded everything I could find. “Swiss Army” was my MySpace profile song. I’d take lyrics and put them in my AIM away message. Chris performed at [Emo Nite’s] one-year anniversary and played a few songs and it was one of the coolest moments we’ve had at Emo Nite — Dashboard has played a very integral part in what we are doing.”
Real Friends, a fan favorite among emo-tinged, Warped Tour-frequenting rock groups, whose bassist Kyle Fasel is the band’s resident Dashboard diehard.
“Dashboard definitely resonated with me at a young age. I remember being freshman in high school and going through the first time of, ‘Oh, I like this girl, she doesn’t like me’ and listening to songs like “Saints and Sailors” and “Remember To Breathe” and thinking, ‘I feel that.’
Looking back now, it seems like teen feelings but it was important because that’s how I’ve shaped songwriting and putting emotion to lyrics. (Dashboard) is the first band I remember really connecting with. That band has never let me down; all their records have special moments.”
Royal Canoe, the Canadian indie-pop group whose guitarist Bucky Driedger would be nothing without Dashoard’s early work to shepherd him through his darkest days.
“I listened to a burnt CD of Dashboard songs walking home from school every day in grade 10… ‘The Best Deceptions’ was a perfect companion to a hormonal teenage worldview informed mostly by Dawson’s Creek. If I could talk to my teenage self I’d say, ‘Dude…maybe consider that you’re just a self-important sad sack of shit and that’s why the girls you like don’t like you back?” But back then, that strained voice, teetering on the edge of an all-out scream, made me feel all the feels so deep!”
pronoun, a shimmery retro-pop act from Boston fronted by Alyse Vellturo, a self-professed emo obsessor who credits just about everything to Chris Carrabba.
“Chris Carrabba is big reason why I started playing music in the first place. I heard “Bend and Not Break” on the show Everwood and was obsessed. I googled the lyrics, I immediately went out and bought A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar. I was playing a lot of sports at the time but Dashboard made me want to learn to play guitar. I started exploring the back catalog of all the acoustic stuff and loved the raw, emotional lyrics where you really feel every word.”
And last but not least, the killer new Philadelphia pop-punk band Grayscale, and bassist Nick Ventimiglia, who’s never stopped loving the band.
“The first record I really got into was The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most and the song that stood out most was “The Best Deceptions” that song really struck a chord, it was like my high school soundtrack and now it reminds me of high school and everything you’re going through as a teenager. And I still love Dashboard; it’s the band I put on when I’m drunk with my friends.”