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.
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
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