Dashboard Confessions

Joshua Rieff

Staff Writer

Cultural Connections: The Muddy Faith of Dashboard Confessional.

Unless you’ve been living in a pop-culture bomb-shelter, you couldn’t have gone more that two weeks tops without spotting rock’s new favorite doe-eyed pinup on the cover of every (no exceptions) corporate rock magazine. Chris Carrabba, of the ever-growing Dashboard Confessional, has been selected by the merciless hand of the music industry to bring a softer, kinder, and most importantly, marketable “Emo” to suburbia, much in the same way Coldplay is marketed to bring the genius of post-modern rock (Radiohead, Wilco, Doves, etc.) down to a form able to get soccer moms humming along and rich-white kids’ hands deep into daddy’s wallet.

With ten years passing since the death of grunge and nothing of remote cultural relevance since that time, the growing hordes of Emo kids and even more importantly, Emo kids starting bands, threaten to make it the next trend in American rock, possibly making Chris Carrabba a house-hold name quicker than a Britney Spears’ annulment.

However, despite his current level of pop-culture attention coming near rivaling the former Mrs. Jason Alexander herself, next to nothing has been mentioned regarding Carrabba’s distinct history with the Christian Music industry through his former band “Further Seems Forever” which was, and still is, on Tooth and Nail records with a new lead singer following Carrabba’s departure.

After scouring the net extensively, I only found one interview with Carrabba regarding his faith in which he shared how he came to Christianity as well as the difficulties of being “the only Christian on tour”. However, a hope and faith in our God can be really difficult to defend when compared against the beautifully depressed and sometimes outright bitter tone that is Dashboard’s, as well as most of Emo’s, trademark.

One source, while ignoring any spiritual aspects, recounted that Dashboard Confessional was started as a side project to Further Seems Forever, following irreparable marital problems. “Dashboard is sort of my diary. I don't really keep a journal or write a diary, but I find myself writing these songs—it's just kind of my way to cope with this world I guess.”

Carrabba’s opening line to “Further’s” debut, “The Moon Is Down”, finds him using his trademark melodic-scream to lament, “The moon is down, and heaven is waiting
for us to find her in our sites with focus that's strong but my strength keeps slipping.” This contrasts sharply against an excerpt from Dashboard’s most recent album (indisputably more positive than the two prior albums, “The Swiss Army Romance” and “Places You Have Come to Fear The Most”) including “Is there anything worth living for”, “If you can’t leave it be, might as well make it bleed”, and “ So much for all the promises you’ve made but now you’re gone and they’re wasted on me.”

Perhaps discouragement over relationships, which is inarguably the only theme of Dashboard’s, has driven Carrabba away from the faith, or perhaps his Christian past and faith are being hidden to avoid being locked out of the secular market, such as is the case of Lifehouse and the ever struggling Switchfoot. Nonetheless, it’s hard to relay much Dashboard material as edifying and it should be viewed within that context. And furthermore, perhaps something is intended by the name of the group’s latest CD, “A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar” which Carrabba explains as “The mark I received, the mission it sent me on, the brand I became, and then the scar it’s caused.”

Listen with care, but don’t miss this band. These are the albums to be recalled thirty years from now and these are the songs to forever be reinterpreted at coffee houses.