Singer Chris Carrabba, who records as Dashboard Confessional, tells Ben Kaplan about his marathon training, favourite theme song, and a run across North Carolina that ended up restoring his faith in mankind.
iRun: When did you first get into running, why?
Chris Carrabba: I began running beside my grandfather at about nine. He started his family a bit late into his life and determined exercise was to be his fountain of youth. It was. He lived into his 90s still swimming 50 laps a day the week he passed away.
iRun: You’re a skinny guy. Why run? What does it help you with?
CC: It’s true that my frame is thin, but as with anyone, exercise makes you stronger, healthier, more centred. Running is my exercise of choice for many reasons beyond any weight maintenance program. First among the benefits I get from running is a period of time dedicated to this simple hard wired action that allows me to find a ‘centre’ for my mind, for the day to come or the one that has gone by.
iRun: And in your art?
CC: Professionally, running is paramount to my lung capacity and massively improves my ability for breath control, which is paramount for singing well, and singing for a very long set, and even more importantly being able to sing, basically, every single day of the year for eight hours a day.
iRun: Tell me about your current training. How often do you run, how far?
CC: I’m currently on tour so my training is daily, as always. When on the road the distances I choose are tied to the region I’m in. Weather I’m under. Demands of the day. Same as every runner. My short runs are chosen on days when I know the heat during the show will be preclusive (I should point out that singing and performing on stage combine for an additional cardiac workout at a high level). I need something in the tank. On those days I will do two miles (then I really do three) early in the day, perform the show at night, then I’ll take my bike out for a light ride and try to work all the lactic acid out of my body. Off day runs are five to seven miles. One day of run and voice rest combined a week. The most boring day.
iRun: Your album titles are perfect for running—The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most and So Impossible—sound good for folks attempting their first races. Do you find inspiration in your running shoes?
CC: I really do! I have a song that I wrote while training (I wasn’t running at that moment) for a marathon. The song is called “Reason To Believe”. I’ve been honoured by some really incredible runners and athletes to be told that that is their hump song. I’ve almost never had a run where I haven’t had to stop to write a lyric down. That is telling, to me, of just how much resistance you carry in your mind that falls away so simply when your feet have one simple task to complete.
iRun: Ever write a chord progression or lyric on a run?
CC: Every run.
iRun: You’ve taken time off, left Dashboard and come back. Does the running help keep you calm, keep you focused, keep you grounded?
CC: I think you are talking about all of us. I believe in calm. I also believe it is faster than me! I need to run or I never catch it!
iRun: And sorry for being rude, please, take me up to date with your music and the band: what’s cooking this summer and beyond?
CC: Dashboard is back after a hiatus and I don’t mind telling you that the response has been a wonderful shock, both in sales and unrestrained positivity and euphoria of the crowd.
iRun: You have another band too, right?
CC: Yeah, my other band Twin Forks is growing and is an absolutely joy-based experience. You want some Twin Forks music free? E-mail Twinforksmusic@gmail.com and use the subject line iRun.
iRun: That’s awesome, thank you. Who’s on your running playlist?
CC: My two beat-the-wall songs are both by Constantines—”Draw Us Lines” and “Hard Feelings”. Fugazi has never missed a running mix of mine: “Bed For The Scrapping”,
“Waiting Room (duh)”, and “Margin Walker.” Hot Water Music is heavily represented. Also: two singer songwriters that I love make it every time as well: Patty Griffin and Cory Brannan.
iRun: Can you make us a running playlist of your tunes? How about a five-song medley that would take us through the final 3K of a race?
CC: Of my songs? I’ve never thought about it really. Here goes nothing.
“Back to you” (Twin Forks)
“Stolen” (Dashboard Confessional)
“Can’t Be Broken” (Twin Forks)
“Reason To Believe” (Dashboard Confessional)
“Vindicated” (Dashboard Confessional)
iRun: Tell me about your greatest run, was it a race? Was it back home?
CC: I had run a half and thought I had hurt my knee badly. I had visited specialists and there was no damage to be found. I would later learn it was my hip and am working through it. Long story short I found myself with time for a short run in North Carolina and before you know it I had run 15 miles. One direction. The freedom from pain was joyous, but then I got a taste of the running community that I love so much. I saw a small shop and walked in. I explained the run I had done, that I had taken no wallet. That I meant to do a short one. I asked if they would mind if I waited there to see if the hotel had a shuttle. Instead they bought me lunch and drove me back and came to the show that night. Instant community.
For more on Chris Carrabba and Dashboard Confessional, including summer tour dates, see DashboardConfessional.com.