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Interview: Dashboard Confessional's Lead Singer, Chris Carrabba

The emo band's frontman discusses songwriting during wartime and a few recent rock influences

June 30, 2006 4:47 PM ET

Austin Scaggs spoke with Chris Carrabba in June 2006. Below is an online-only excerpt of the conversation.

Do you spend a lot on iTunes?br> I spend an enormous amount on iTunes.

How much a week?
My music purchasing . . . I probably buy no less than five records a week, and probably an average of ten or twelve records a week. Mostly on iTunes.

Mostly on recommendations, radio . . . ?
I went through a sort of moratorium . . . There are only a few acts I'll listen to a lot while making records, and usually it's because I know that if they haven't influenced me by now, or if I haven't inadvertently ripped them off by now, I'm never going to.

There was a lot of music that came out this year that I missed, so I've been buying it up in bulk. I buy music for the same reasons everybody does. VH1 had a metal month, so I bought everything, Faith No More records, I bought Appetite for the tenth time -- how come that record can't stay in my hands, I have no idea. Kids tell me bands they're into all the time, and I'm curious, I'm curious about what makes the world go 'round, so that's a pretty cool social thing. It does tend to connect us.

When Neil Young put out his latest record about the war and its effects, he said he wished that someone younger had written it -- a teenager or twenty-year-old kid. Do you think you could write it?
I imagine that I might. Because I find that things live with me longer than they live with other people before they come out in songs. I think I'm just as fed up as anybody else. I talk about it a lot with friends. It takes a while where talking about it with friends isn't where you go, and talking about it in songs is where you go. Inevitable? I don't know.

It's less about war than it is the fact that I've written about a soldier [in the song "Slow Decay," off the newest album.] It seems to be unpopular somehow to do that . . . Like, it's not cool. I wonder myself why no one has done it. My only hypothesis is that it's not as cool as when [Neil Young] was young to write about war. You're not gonna hear a fancy Eighties retro band talking about getting our kids out of there.

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Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

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