PARK CITY, Utah — Deciding to shelve an album is never easy, but it helps when writing another one only takes a month.
"I wrote a record and I didn't like it so much," Dashboard Confessional singer Chris Carrabba said recently. "It didn't feel like the right songs for where I'm at in my life right now, so I started again about four weeks ago. Now I've got another one and I like it a lot — I can talk about these stories truthfully for the next two years. I didn't think the last batch would mean something to me [over time]."
The as-yet-untitled new album, tentatively slated for release late this summer, replaces the somewhat piano-driven, collaborative effort Carrabba talked about last fall (see "Dashboard Confessional Look To The Future And See: A Piano").
"To be frank with you, I think the other songs probably would have sold a lot more records, but they didn't really register [with me], so I couldn't do it, so I moved on," Carrabba said. "The edge I was feeling inside really wasn't coming out on the record."
To find that edge, Carrabba revisited earlier methods of songwriting.
"There was certain vibe that I was wondering if I'd lost," Carrabba said. "So I started exploring all the stuff I used to do, all the bands that I've been in [Further Seems Forever, the Vacant Andies], all the songs I used to write, and started wondering what kind of writing I could do if I put all those things together. So I did, and I'm much more happy with it."
The way Carrabba writes, he was unable to salvage any of the lyrics or music from his discarded music. "My lyrics get attached emotionally to the notes that they accompany," he explained. "I'm not very good at mixing and matching. I know some people who do that and I'm really jealous of that. I can never really make it work."
Carrabba said the songs on the follow-up to A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar will be more experimental than past albums.
"They make left turns when you aren't expecting it," he said. "And there's some odd time signatures, but it's not like I'm beating anyone over the head with it. I just needed something to kick me out of that place where I was. I thought, 'I'll write some complicated songs and see if I fall back into the [right] place,' and I did."
Indeed, Carrabba seems to enjoy the challenges that change brings.
"I'm big into changing the vibe with almost every record," he said. "I think it would be a great idea to find a new environment, although [working in the studio means] you sit in a room with no windows for a month or two. But I think it's good to have new scenery when you're walking to the studio from wherever you're staying."
Dashboard is also planning to try out a different producer.
"James Wisner and Gil Norton have made records for me and they've both taught me so much about music — not just about recording music, but how to see music and how to feel music," Carrabba said. "It's about finding that connection with somebody that you trust enough [to tell you], 'This part sucks and isn't good,' and doesn't blow smoke."
Before recording the album, Carrabba will test out some of the songs on a short solo college tour that kicks off next month. Carrabba has also scheduled a reunion show with his former band, Further Seems Forever.
As for the discarded album, don't count the songs out just yet. "Now that I've done [another LP], I can probably look objectively at this other batch and say, 'Not bad. I got a hell of a lot of b-sides now,' " he joked.
Chris Carrabba tour dates, according to his Web site:
4/26 - Brockport, NY @ SUNY/ Brockport
4/27 - Hempstead, NY @ Hofstra University
4/28 - Fairfield, CT @ Sacred Heart University
4/29 - Elizabethtown, PA @ Elizabethtown College
4/30 - Asbury Park, NJ @ The Great Bamboozle (Further Seems Forever reunion)
5/1 - Baltimore, MD @ Loyola College