PropertyOfZack had the honor of chatting with Chris Carrabba a week or two again, and it turned out to be one hell of an interview. Chris and I dug deep into solo touring away from Dashboard Confessional, how the Further Seems Forever record came to be, touring plans for Further, losing an almost-complete Dashboard record, and the future. Check out the great interview below!
You’ve been playing solo shows for the past year and a half or so following the Dashboard ten year tour. In between you’ve released a solo record and we know obviously know that Further Seems Forever has finished its new album. Are these going to be the last solo and/or Dashboard dates for a while to focus on Further Seems?
No, I don’t think so. I don’t think I’ll be completely stopping anything. I think it’s going to shift to Further for a while, obviously, but I don’t think I’ll be completely stopping the other stuff. I still have plenty of opportunities to go out and play too, whether it’s cover records stuff or solo stuff.
Have these string summer solo shows been going well so far?
Yeah, they’ve been really great. I’m sort of using them to test a little bit of new material. I hate to do that too much because I hate to play too many new songs because nobody loves listening to that. But I’ve been playing songs that have been indicative of the direction I’m taking in writing. Everything seems right when you’re writing. It always seems great, but you need to think about it from other people’s perspective. So I’ve been doing that live. We were in the studio for so long with Further that I just had to get out and play. The studio is something I love and am passionate about, but there’s a big difference from playing music and recording music and trying to get it just right and just being out with people playing. And since that Swiss Army tour I’ve been playing without a set list and have been allowing myself to work out new things live. When you’re playing with a band there are some things that don’t let you to do that, like the band not knowing a random song as well, but now I realize, if someone wants to hear it, it’s gotta be somewhere in the memory bank. That’s what I learned on that ten year tour. The adventurous thing came back. You can write a set list with a band and veer from it, but it’s much more difficult to do things on the fly. I find that very exciting now. It’s gotten me really into doing the solo thing again. Everyone knows I started doing it that way. There’s some connection that I find with the audience that way that’s deeper.
The big news as of late has of course been the formal announcement of Penny Black. At what point did you guys know that you were going to suit up to record the album?
I’m not exactly sure when or how we decided. We decided to do a few reunion shows, and I’m not even sure how that happened. We hang out and we’re friends and we see each other a lot. We got offered to do a few shows, and we said that we could sit here and just play guitar in our backyards, or we could go out there and go for it. They had a long career without me, but it wasn’t just without me. By the end, even Nick was gone I believe and Steve too in terms of touring. So I think the original five of us sort of felt protective of whatever we first had and didn’t want to mess it up. We had one reunion show in all those years. After we played the recent reunion shows, we just asked ourselves why we weren’t doing this. The reason for that was that Further has a history beyond just us five, but that’s perfectly okay. We felt like it wasn’t ours anymore in our mind. We thought it was everyone else’s equally, so we thought we may have called it something else, but this is still Further Seems Forever. It was the only Further Seems Forever all five of us knew together. So once we started just plugging in and playing as opposed to noodling in our backyards, it was really great. I love cover songs, but I’d be shocked if any of the other guys know more than three cover songs. It’s not something they’re interested in. So when we plugged in to play, the next thing we know is that we’re writing new stuff. I have a little studio, so that’s where we rehearsed. We recorded as we went. Logically, I think it’s the record we would have written to follow-up our first. It’s twelve years later. None of us are the same people we were, but I do think it is the proper follow-up to The Moon Is Down.
Were there nerves that things wouldn’t go as well as you all hoped once actually recording?
It took us so long to write The Moon Is Down that there were no illusions we were just going to get together and write a quick record. We didn’t try to crank out a record. It took us two or three years to write The Moon Is Down. It’s a really non-traditional songwriting structure or method for us. We write part by part and we ended up getting a record out of it, and that’s it. You’re unlikely to get a chance to make music once in your career, and we’ve gotten it twice now. When you make your first record, there are literally no expectations and you have no fans. You’re able to do what you truly believe in and you’re able to do what you think is right for each song. That’s what we were able to do again this time. Until the end, we didn’t think anyone would hear it. It took a few years to make a record. We didn’t think it would come to be, so we weren’t considering whether people would like it or if it was the right record. If we had written it quickly, we would’ve gotten caught up on how to properly write a respectful record to people that were fans of The Moon Is Down and the people who were fans of the last two records. There are obviously three very different singers, so we would’ve gotten really hung up on things. We made the record that we enjoy, and we’re proud of these songs. Some songs are better than anything we’ve ever done, in terms of comparing it to the first record. Some of them are an extension from The Moon Is Down songs as well. There’s more than one song that seems like a logical next step from the first record.
The album comes out in October, and we know you’ll be touring, but will you be truly supporting this record for the future? Or do the remaining members of the band have other priorities?
I don’t really know how to answer that. I’m not really sure. We have dates planned around the record release, and we’re planning a lengthier tour as well. I’m aware that I’m the only guy who can say yes to anyway we want to do it. I can’t be the one to answer that. I think it’s likely that we’ll do a lot of touring on this record since they haven’t toured in years, and they love it. I could see us touring a lot on this record, but I don’t know. I’m wondering the same thing myself. I think it’s a lot though. I think they really want to and are going to be able to find a way to.
There was an interview where you said a nice part of doing this record was being able to take a step away from Dashboard. Has that been rewarding?
Yes, but part of it is a little stressful. I have a fan base, and they may or may not be fans of Further Seems Forever, so I do worry. I think ultimately, I decided that the best next step I take could only come from having different and new experiences, and that’s what this record is. We made this record ourselves from pressing record to mixing it as well. This is very much a hands-on experience for us. That’ll make whatever I do next better. It’s better than rushing out a record because I’m worried about not having a record.
You did say you’re playing new songs. Are you just taking it a step at a time for the future?
I record as I go because I have my own place. I guess I’m always making a record. I had a Dashboard record pretty much made, and then I had a major data loss. It was pretty much finished, and I lost all of it. I told myself that I needed to get back. It was an awful feeling to think about redoing it all again. But now I just have to trust that those just weren’t the songs and there was another force at hand showing me that. I they come back, they’ll find their own way back. So I’ve started fresh. I record as I write, but there’s no structure to how I do it. There never was. I feel an urgency to write because it could be gone. You just have to keep drawing from the well, because you don’t want to let it get away from you.
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