When Chris Carrabba founded Dashboard Confessional 20 years ago, he was wary about writing acoustic music in the age of punk — especially since he was already known in the scene for his other band Further Seems Forever. But he took the risk, and needless to say it paid off. During a recent interview with Kerrang!, he revealed what drew him to the acoustic guitar.
"I remember [my uncle Jimmy] had a guitar that I saw him play once. I don’t recall him being bad or good, I just knew it was only once I saw him pick the thing up and it was like magic to me he could make that thing do that," he recalled. "I was like, ‘Oh my God, there’s something going on here that I don’t yet understand, but I need to.’"
That memory stuck with the musician and ultimately helped mold his musical style. “That memory of watching my uncle play probably planted the seed. And growing up listening to singer-songwriters. It was an anathema to the ethos of the scene, so I did that squirrelled away on my own," he shared. "Luckily now there are fewer rules, which is the most punk thing possible. You’re good as long as you get to the point where you’re able to do the thing that’s truly punk – which is to express something from deep inside and share it with the world.”
"I knew I was doing something that was going to be laughed at in the traditional hardcore scene," he continued. "The acoustic guitar was for hippies – it didn’t have any teeth – but I’d come up thinking differently. I had this secret background, of not just listening to Operation Ivy, the Descendents and Quicksand, I also listened to Paul Simon and Steve Earle – and that motherf**ker had teeth. So I already knew you could make an acoustic guitar punk as f**k, I’d just never heard anybody who was a punk do it. I wonder, if I’d heard Billy Bragg when I was younger whether I’d have waited so long to stand in front of people with an acoustic guitar.”
Though now joined by a full band, acoustic guitar is still the backbone of Carrabba's music. Next year they embark on an extensive North American tour to celebrate 20 years as a band. Check out a full list of dates here.
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