While you can always go see Chris Carrabba perform for thousands of people just about anytime Dashboard Confessional comes to town, Friday’s Twin Forks show will provide a very different look at the veteran songwriter. After all, most artists performing in the intimate setting of the Constellation Room haven’t sold millions of records across three different bands. But Carrabba isn’t like most successful singers, and the 42-year-old still understands the importance of playing smaller venues along with the giant festivals and amphitheaters.
“I’ve always recognized how important it is to play small rooms and be close to your audience,” Carrabba says. “I continue to do that with Dashboard periodically, the reason being that there’s no dressing it up. It’s as raw as it can be. You either connect or you don’t. You have to put everything you’ve got out, but if you win the moment and the crowd begins to participate in a certain way, they can push and drive the entire show.”
One reason that Carrabba has built and maintained the type of dedicated fanbase that will go to his concerts big and small over the last two decades is his ability to write relatable and heartfelt songs in so many different styles. But from his heavier days with Further Seems Forever to the melodic Dashboard Confessional, a folkier Americana project like Twin Forks has always been something the frontman’s wanted to do.
“When I started Dashboard, I was worried that I wasn’t good enough to work within the framework of [folk] songs while still bringing something new — and I wasn’t,” Carrabba says. “I’m not saying I’ve made any great new strides in that genre — I certainly haven’t — but I am able to do something different in some small fashion. It’s very rewarding after holding it at bay for so long.”
But for more casual fans who primarily know Carrabba from his massive hits with Dashboard Confessional, the Florida native sees no reason to not fall in love with Twin Forks as well. As a kid who grew up listening to everything from the Cure to Metallica to Simon and Garfunkel, the songwriter knows as well as anyone that musical tastes can span genres — and he believes modern technology is helping to spread those preferences even further.
“With the advent of Spotify and all of that stuff, you can curate your own playlist with such varied types of music,” Carrabba says. “A lot of people don’t listen to entire albums anymore, but the voracious appetite for music really hasn’t changed. What has changed is that the type of music someone listened to used to be like a badge they wore — it was an identifier. I think that’s less specific now, and there’s such a wide net of people’s tastes in music.”
Although diehard Further Seems Forever fans may have to wait a while longer for a follow-up to 2012’s Penny Black, listeners of Carrabba’s other projects all have new music to look forward to in the near future. Although the next Dashboard Confessional record will undoubtedly get plenty of attention, the multi-talented musician says Twin Forks’ sophomore effort will take the band into some new territory without ditching their original sound entirely.
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“You want your records to have relationships to each other, but as time goes by, you stumble upon new things,” Carrabba says. “It could be as simple as new rhythmic approaches, or it could be as grand as a wholly different instrumentation. When we started writing the record, it was an extension of LP 1. Now — as we were getting ready to finish the record — we wrote a song that shows an exciting amount of growth without turning our backs on what we liked about the first record. Lyrically, the style of storytelling is certainly similar.”
For those who can’t wait for the new LP, Twin Forks will be performing some tracks from it at the Constellation Room on Friday. But even more importantly than that, Carrabba hopes everyone gets there in time to see his hand-picked opening acts — and to chat with him if they have the time.
“If you come early, I’m eager to say hello and thank everyone in person,” Carrabba says. “If you see me, please come say hi. I really enjoy that.”
Twin Forks will be playing the Constellation Room inside of the Observatory on Friday, May 12. Tickets start at $18 and are available through the venue's website.