Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carrabba doesn't like to spell out the meanings of his songs for fans of his band.
Sure, it's possible to assume his lyrics might be about this heartbreaking event, or that soul-crushing experience. But the tattooed songwriter has always let listeners determine what his words mean for themselves, based on their own experiences. It's a subjective affair, listening to a Dashboard record — which is why Carrabba didn't want a dazzling woman appearing in the video for "Don't Wait," the first single from the band's forthcoming LP, Dusk and Summer.
Not at first, at least. But then, "I saw the girl they wanted to use for the video, and I [said], 'All right, I'll do it,' " he explained. "I'm such a sucker, what can I tell you?"
That girl, Jessica Alba-esque Mexican soap star Fernanda Romero, appears in less than 20 seconds of the clip, which Carrabba shot last month in California with director Rich Lee. But her presence, the singer/guitarist said, might color some viewers' interpretation of the song.
"In the video, I've made a decision in the beginning," he said, "and then I'm moving, like, at light-speed through time, almost to the end of the world, where it's all back to fields of green, where there once was a city. And over the course of the video, I kind of realize I made a mistake. I know what the choice I should have made was, and I whip back and make the other choice.
"[The meaning is] supposed to be subjective, but I think the obvious [thing to assume] would be that I let a girl go, because that's kind of the scene we set in the video. I'm sure that's what people just assume the song's about now, because there's a girl in the video," he sighed.
Dashboard's fans won't need to do any time-traveling of their own to hear new music from Carrabba. After three long years, Dashboard's Dusk and Summer will be in stores on June 27. The album was produced by Daniel Lanois and Don Gilmore (see "No Reggae Emo, But New Dashboard LP Owes A Lot To Jamaica"). But Carrabba feels that once his fans hear the new songs, they'll agree that the wait was worth it.
"At times, I wondered, 'Am I running a gamble here? Am I going to lose my fanbase?' " Carrabba admitted. "We're talking about a generation, which includes me, that is so used to instant gratification that somebody else will fulfill that need for a listener like me. But I wanted to make something great. So, I figured I would either lose them or I wouldn't — and if I did lose them, I would win them back with some potent music.
"They did wait three years, and that is a hell of a long time to wait for a record," he added. "Between 2003 and 2006, we released one song," — "Vindicated," which appeared on the soundtrack to "Spider-Man 2" — "but between 2000 and 2006, we had seven releases. That's kind of a lot. So there was enough to tide them over, I thought."
And while debuting at #1 on the Billboard album charts isn't Carrabba's ultimate goal, he admits it would be nice.
"We've never debuted at #1," he said. With 2003's A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar, "we debuted at #2, but Alan Jackson's Greatest Hits Volume II buried us. It would be cool to look back at, as it's something of an accomplishment. But that's not my goal. The goal is to still be on the charts after a year."
Dashboard will be playing some Canadian dates, then beginning a monthlong trek on July 10 in Seattle that's set to make stops in Las Vegas, Chicago and St. Louis before wrapping August 13 in Boston. Pop punkers Say Anything and rock survivalist Ben Lee will open all the American dates
"It's going to be a blast," Carrabba predicted. "I'm really excited to go out and play these songs, and there's a certain spirit of newness to the old stuff, because we've taken a lot of the sonic elements of the new record and applied them. [Dusk is] definitely lush and layered — a lot of things doing a little bit, as opposed to a lot of stuff thrown at you."
After this short tour, Dashboard will head overseas for European dates, and follow up that run with a trip to Australia. Then it's back to the States for a fall arena jaunt. But Carrabba wouldn't say with whom.
"It's a really good package," he said. "We've done it before. We've toured together, and we're old friends, and people have been asking us to do it again since the day our last tour together ended."
In recent years, the band has toured with No Motiv, Hot Rod Circuit and Alkaline Trio, and has opened for both U2 and Weezer. But Carrabba's not caving.
"It's a good one, I can promise that."