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MYTH No. 6: Emo Oversharers Killed Rock’n’Roll Mystery


REALITY: Sorta. But Chris Carrabba still has secrets.

The Dashboard Confessional leader answers the charges:

As much as anyone, you capitalized on the technology of the past decade to cultivate a direct relationship with your fans. But doesn’t that sort of availability kill the mystique?
As the guy in the band, I don’t have any interest in there being a big wall between me and the fans. But on the flip side, I don’t want to know everything about the bands I’m a fan of — I really go for the mythic nature of rock. It’s still there with some people. There will be a niche of artists who refuse to partake in the technology.

Who do you think has been able to maintain a contemporary career without us knowing everything about them?
John Mayer — I wonder how much of his life we’re actually seeing and how much is just him entertaining us. It’s amazing, I’ve spent all these years embracing the fact that I’m in a time when I can interact with the people who listen to my music. But there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t answer a hundred e-mails or tweets that are like, “Is this really you or is it your assistant?” Maybe that’s the better mythos — it’s actually my assistant and I never existed.

But as accessible as you are, you’ve tried to keep parts of your own life private — when you got married a few years ago, you didn’t want people to know.
It’s an imaginary line and it’s constantly moving. A lot of people have chosen to completely erase that line. But I think there’s another way, where I enjoy my relationship with my fanbase, but not to the point where I sacrifice my actual relationships. Or sacrifice the nature of songwriting — if everyone knows the specifics of what you’re writing about, it’s hard to write honestly. There’s this tricky space now where you risk being perceived as an ass if you’re not willing to tell every detail of your life because fans have never been exposed to someone who won’t. Pop culture now is based on the idea of “just like you, only a little better.” That’s what I loved about Springsteen and Tom Petty, the idea of the musician as everyman. They weren’t going with the Led Zeppelin/groupie-sex-with-sharks school of thought.

Do you think emo gets a bad rap for this?
The bands from my generation happened to be coming up just as the technology was changing. Yeah, there was a desire for accessibility in the heart of the teenager, and we were writing songs that appealed to that audience. But if it hadn’t been us, it would have been someone else. The myths may be quickly debunked, but rock stars are still acting like rock stars.

So these legends can continue despite the information overload?
There’s still an outlaw spirit on the road; I know for a fact there are people not telling everything you want to hear.

Like who?
Like me. How am I gonna sell my tell-all if I’ve already told it all?

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