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Dashboard Confessional's decade of heartbreak

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Anniversaries have a way of creeping up on you. That’s how it was for Chris Carrabba, who hadn’t noticed that a full decade had passed since the release of “The Swiss Army Romance” — the pensive debut of his emo outfit Dashboard Confessional — until fans started mentioning it on his most recent tour.

“It’s a personal milestone, but it didn’t occur to me to go out and sell it and parade it in front of people — that felt a little garish,” he says. “But everybody kept saying, ‘It’s been 10 years! What are you going to do?’ It was a foregone conclusion in their eyes that I was going to do something.”

Rather than let the date pass unobserved, Carrabba decided to go all-out. He made reproductions of his first “Swiss Army” T-shirt, printed up silk-screened posters designed by Andrew Vastagh and reissued the album in a limited-edition, army-knife-shaped box set of five 7-inch records, complete with his original handwritten lyric notebook.

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He’ll play the disc in its entirety when Dashboard Confessional hits San Francisco on Saturday.
 
“I thought, ‘OK, how many things have I not done before?’ There aren’t many,” says the heavily-tattooed Floridian, whose soft-strummed reflections made him a poster boy for the emo movement. “I’d gone out and played these songs for 10 years; I’d never retired them. But I never played them in order, the way they are on the record. So I thought I could take a step backwards and even use designers that I worked with so long ago, so that maybe we could recreate that moment.”

It felt strange, revisiting boyish work — ardent paeans like “Screaming Infidelities,” “Again I Go Unnoticed” and “The Sharp Hint of New Tears” — as a 35-year-old man.  

“There are a few moments there that I would’ve chosen differently,” Carrabba says. “I was a young songwriter, and it showed. But thank God I was guileless on that day, so I was able to say some of that stuff.”

Back then, Carrabba was fronting another group, Further Seems Forever (which he recently re-formed) and working as a teacher in an after-school program. But it wasn’t just breakup catharsis, as fans believed.

“At the same time, we had a major tragedy, a murder in our family, and I was crushed,” he says. “And that made its way into the music, and it made you feel everything heavier. So yeah, I was writing songs about this girl, but obviously I’m feeling the weight of the more important loss. There are a lot of reasons to feel heartbroken.”

IF YOU GO

Dashboard Confessional

Where: Regency Ballroom, 1290 Sutter St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $25 to $28
Contact: (800) 745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com

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