Radio interview, promoting “Stolen”
Chris seems a little timid in the radio studio with probably 10 people watching. He performs the song “Stolen,” which on the recorded version he belts the chorus “you have stolen my heart.” He performs the song with his eyes closed the entire time, which is generally how he performs live regardless of where. The high note in the middle of the bridge is also sung rather timidly in falsetto. It’s a lot more difficult to really give it the gusto in a small room accompanied only by the sound of an acoustic guitar and the breathing of everyone watching you. I don’t blame Chris at all for pushing the high notes into his head voice because it’s awkward. Which, unsurprisingly, is the attitude the music champions.
Chris is witty, eloquent, explains himself very well, and answers questions with a self-deprecating humor that doesn’t come off as forced. He isn’t an actor playing a character. He is not Michael Cera in any of the roles he has played being the awkward kid in the corner who’ll get the girl in the end because he’s so pathetic. He’s legit, and authentic in who he is.
Chris Carrabba mostly reminds of a friend of mine whose name is also Chris. Chris Henningfeld played bass in my hardcore band Pilots (or The Pilot, or Pilot before that, and When Sorrow Fails before that even.) He wasn’t really a bass player, though he was a pretty good performer and a really cool dude. When coming up with ideas for this article, and trying to piece together with this Carrabba fella could be and not be a character it hit me
Radio interview on 93.7 WSTW
Camera is behind the radio personality, his face unseen, and he’s standing in front of three computers and a mixing board. He’s the DJ, the engineer, and the producer. Standing opposite him is Chris, also standing with his guitar on hand. The DJ says “You’re one of my favorite poets.” Chris laughs, then responds “That’s my favorite complement to hear, because I think it’s my main focus. I think it keeps me off the radio more than it keeps me on to be honest.” Chris is surrounded by 8 other people with Styrofoam cups as percussion, to perform “Stolen.” In this performance, Chris is moving around, dancing, really getting into it. His mic isn’t quite as hot, so he’s able to sing a little bit louder without feeling so awkward. Also, with the crowd of people watching his from behind, I imagine he felt a little more comfortable and could get a little lost in the song. Over the DJ’s shoulder we can see on one of the computers Cubase, or Sonar, or maybe another free digital recording software putting to disk this performance and I can’t help but wonder if he asked permission beforehand. Once the bridge kicks in the Styrofoam percussion kicks in on eights notes, sounds like paper clips, he later confesses it’s skittles.
The DJ asks a few questions that he found on the internet about Chris and Dashboard. Chris makes a few jokes about how Bigfoot and Lochness Monster doesn’t exist, and talks about Myth Busters and the whole room laughs. Chris was also never a mascot at his high school. Chris captivates a room, with his candor, and sharp wit.
He also performs “Vindicated” and while getting ready to play the DJ pulls up a new session to steal, I mean, capture the moment. Again Chris is comfortable, but still stuck in his head voice. After hitting the high notes in falsetto he drops back into his chest voice with a strain, as though not as used to holding back. The group backing him claps to the last chorus. “Vindicated” was written like the day after seeing Spiderman 2. He requests “Mr. Jones” by the Counting Crows to end.
NME Video: Profile of Chris
Mom was a musician. Always listening and playing music as a kid. At 15, Uncle found a guitar in his basement and gave it to Chris.
“I had no idea you had to learn other peoples songs. I learned by sounding out the chords on the guitar.”
“I found it pretty easy putting it all together.”
“First song I wrote was a country song, a comedic song, always trying to make my step-brother laugh.”
“I was amazed that I created a song.”
“The inspiration of songwriting is always fresh to me.”
“Songwriting has always supplanted whatever it is I had planned at the moment.”
“Music is some kind of crazy elixir that heals all, and unites all people.”
“I’m foolishly arrogant, I always know that I’m right. This music I make is not designed for mass-consumption.”
“I’m glad people connect to this music, and have been able to connect to each other through it. But I cannot take credit for it. It’s just a vessel, I’m lucky if I get a song.”
“[Every day I pick up a guitar], and hope to get something out of it.”
NME Video: Dashboard Confessional – Show
“I’m glad to be playing KCLSU to play by myself in front of people, kind of naked and kind of scared. Which that kind of performance breeds, and I don’t see any point in waiting around. Why not come back and have fun again. I’m kind of a glutton I guess.”
“It’s a funny thing, the crowd participation at our shows. It’s kind of deafening. Even when I don’t play with the band, it almost feels like I’m playing with other musicians in the crowd. This sort of freedom that we’re all in this together as opposed to some kind of separation between ‘us’ and ‘them'”
“You’d can’t be rigid to your setlist. You better know how to play the songs they call out”
“My favorite songs are the ones I have memories about writing them, or the life-experience that went into them. The crowds energy peaks my interest in the song.”
“Winding down after a show is kind of impossible, my energy is so peaked at the end of the show, and holding onto that high.”
First question is “when did you know to quit school to try to make it big?” Chris responded by explaining that he never planned on making it big, he just wanted to play music. He compares himself to the way Dave Matthews got big. He saw Dave Matthews, then the next time brought a friend. A slow growth to the top. Makes a joke about not actually knowing how to play the guitar, that he brings it just to look cool. Plays vindicated then Stolen, his guitar is out of tune. DJ says Chris has “sold out Madison Square Garden” multiple times.
“You know you right a song and you think ‘it rules,’ but the record company says ‘what were you thinking? you blew it.’ i like all of them. if it don’t think it’s good enough, then it doesn’t go on the record.”
“All the hot sales girls are here.”
“‘Stolen’ is a story of love and beats.” DJ: “Is there a girlfriend out there in South Florida?” “There’s probably a few.”
The answer seems simple. He’s an attractive, charismatic, funny guy who seems to fall pretty head over heals for the girl, and then is completely heartbroken when the seemingly innocent, flirty, casual relationship ends. That seems to characterize most of the break-up songs. He’s Michael Cera in the back room of the bar, Steve Carrell’s Michael Scott when he falls in love, John Cusak’s Robert Gordon when jilted, but more than anything else he’s just like Chris Henningfeld.