Music excites Dashboard's songwriter

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Successful albums, screaming fans and concerts that inevitably become cathartic sing-alongs don't keep Dashboard Confessional mastermind Chris Carrabba from being a geek.

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Carrabba

Mr. Carrabba, who will appear with Dashboard at the Drive for Show Rock Fore! Dough benefit Tuesday, said that though his music has led him to opening slots on a U2 tour and the opportunity to share the stage with Elvis Costello, he's still the excitable boy who tears into a new album and is easily moved by a chord well-struck.

A musician attracted to simple songs that resonate emotionally, Mr. Carrabba said it was his passion for music that moves people that encouraged him to take up the Dashboard moniker. Originally, the project consisted of himself and an acoustic guitar.

"I'm really attracted to simplicity," Mr. Carrabba said in a recent telephone interview. "I was in a band for a long time and we were very prog-like - real mathematicians. But I always felt this draw toward simplicity and that's how Dashboard started. I wanted to really respond to the mood of the music."

The Dashboard sound has evolved from its acoustic roots and become more of a traditional rock band. Mr. Carrabba said he remains vigilant, ensuring that the spirit of the music remains as the sound continues to shift.

"But I do get excited," he said with a laugh. "I'm an excitable guy. So sometimes I'm working within these parameters and I'll almost fall off. I can't help it. I work within the parameters, but I ignore the boundaries."

Although Dashboard has been making music as a full band for a few years, Mr. Carrabba said Dusk and Summer, released last summer, was the first time he actually wrote with the band in mind.

"I would be lying if I said I wasn't inspired by the band I'm in and the players I'm with and wanting to experience that interplay," he said. "It's something you just can't do when it's just a dude and a guitar."

Mr. Carrabba said he's also consistently inspired by other artists. He said he took a tour's worth of memories from the show he played with Mr. Costello. His voice grows a little tremulous when he talks about the band that Dashboard will share the Rock Fore! Dough stage with. Calling Cheap Trick "the originators," he said he and his Dashboard compatriots were literally jumping around when they heard the rock group was on the bill.

"An experience like this isn't unusual, but it is completely exotic for me," Mr. Carrabba said. "At the heart of this you do have a kid who is a big music geek and a big fan. I easily revert back to the first time I heard California Man or something like that. I'm not immune to it just because I play in a band. In fact, I might be more sensitive to it."

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.

AUDIO EXTRA

Click here to listen to a clip of Dashboard Confessional's song "Rooftops and Invitations"

Listen to excerpts from Mr. Carrabba's conversation with Steven Uhles.

--Carrabba on Emo

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