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Emo superhero Chris Carrabba puts a new spin on Spider-Man

Summer-movie soundtracks are usually monsters-of-rock terrain: who can forget Chad Kroeger’s grunge ballad extraordinaire, "Hero," from Spider-Man? So it’s something of a surprise to see Dashboard Confessional, the little alterna-rock band who could, topping the list of acts on the Spider-Man 2 companion album, which hits stores this Tuesday. With frontman Chris Carrabba at his steel-throated best, DC’s "Vindicated" is already picking up steam on rock radio. Not bad for a song Carrabba wrote in "a matter of minutes" after deciding to save a different tune for use on his next CD.

"Now I almost wish I had given them the original song, because I like ‘Vindicated’ so much," he laughs. "All the pieces fell into place. Before I handed in the song, we were not being considered for a single. It was more like, ‘This will be something cool to show my children.’ The director, the producer, and the head of Marvel all really connected with the song. It wasn’t like, ‘Hey, this is the song that will sell the most records.’ It was like, ‘This is the song that really seems to resonate with the story line.’ "

Nonetheless, Carrabba has great timing. DC play Tsongas Arena in Lowell next Sunday, just a few days before Spider-Man 2 hits theaters. It’s one of the final dates of the band’s headlining stint on the annual Civic Tour, with openers Thrice and the Get Up Kids. As usual, one lucky fan will win a customized car in conjunction with the trek, which was one of the main reasons DC signed on. The most striking feature of the ride the band designed is a sleek exterior paint job based on Carrabba’s famous tattoo sleeve. "To be honest with you, I was talked into that one. I didn’t want it, but my band mates and the people at Honda kept being like, ‘For better or worse, it really is identifiable with your band.’ I wanted the Starsky and Hutch thing, so they put it within the racing stripe. I was like, ‘Okay, that’s pretty cool, I’ve got to admit.’ "

DC’s current album, A Mark, a Mission, a Brand, a Scar (Vagrant), is their best-sounding effort to date, and Carrabba attributes that to producer Gil Norton (Pixies). "Gil brought a real understanding of how to maintain a storytelling vibe with the dynamics of the band. Now we can go back and forth. I can make another acoustic record, or we could even make an overblown band record that’s got strings on it — you know, an epic, Aerosmith-ballady kind of record."

Dashboard also feature prominently in Spin scribe Andy Greenwald’s stellar emo survey Nothing Feels Good (St. Martin’s); Carrabba says he’s happy with the way the book turned out, if a little uncomfortable. "I make no complaints about it, because Andy’s my friend and I gave him my blessing. There’s some exaggeration, that’s all. No one on the tour remembers the stakes ever feeling so high, but then it wouldn’t be a good book, would it? I mean, everybody who writes about me is going to have to dress it up, because I’m kind of boring. But he’s a good writer, and he’s got a keen eye. Sometimes when you’re in the thick of it, maybe you don’t see what’s going on."

Dashboard Confessional perform next Sunday, June 27, at Tsongas Arena, 300 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Lowell, with Thrice and the Get Up Kids; call (978) 848-6900.

Issue Date: June 18 - 24, 2004
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