Dispatch: The Road Well-Traveled
On a surprisingly mild Tennessee afternoon in mid-June, the members of Dispatch are relaxing backstage at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. Chad Stokes and Brad Corrigan, two thirds of the band, are watching a few minutes of the Punch Brothers’s set with their longtime manager, Steve Bursky. He first saw Dispatch in high school, eventually joining their team and has since parlayed his experience into a management company that represents the likes of Passion Pit, Dr. Dog, Weird Owl and White Rabbits. Dalton Sim, the band’s other manager who represents groups such as fun. and Guster, is standing a few feet away while Pete Francis, the band’s missing member and new father of an 18-month-old boy, is still on his way to the festival site.
For the past few days, Dispatch have been hunkering down in nearby Nashville trying to figure out how to play the songs off their new album Circles Around the Sun, their first full-length release in 12 years—and first since the band burned out and called it quits just as they started to break into the mainstream.
“We have this backward way of doing things now where we don’t test the songs live before we record them,” says Stokes, the band’s primary guitarist co-lead singer and hippie soul, whose blonde dreads remain the band’s most visible hallmark. “All of a sudden, we’re like, ‘Shit, how are we gonna do that live?’”
When Dispatch headlines the Which Stage later that afternoon, they play for more than 50,000 people. For a large portion of that crowd, the loose-limbed folk/rock/funk/hip-hop troupe was—consciously or not—their gateway into the independent-minded live music scene. For many others, they were also the first band they saw live or even just liked without their parents’ influence.
“There’s this weird phenomenon where people kind of get into us and then, kind of pass us down to their younger cousin—and then, it just keeps rolling,” Stokes says with a chuckle.
While Dispatch wasn’t the first band to benefit from the Internet’s increased power, they helped prove that you could gain national credibility without a major label just as file-sharing started to chip away at the traditional music industry model. Like the Grateful Dead, Phish and Dave Matthews Band before them, they also learned early on that a dedicated fanbase is a more valuable investment than a hit single. But horsing around in their backstage compound at Bonnaroo, the members of Dispatch come across more like retired college athletes than industry trendsetters as they begin to embark on their second run of “reunion” shows.
“We were hanging out and [the reunion] just happened,” says Francis, the cleanest cut member of the band, who’s also responsible for some of the band’s best ballads. “It was pretty spontaneous.”
Stokes adds: “I was really missing Brad’s voice a lot. All our other bands have their own thing but our voices are what make this Dispatch.”
“Whatever, dude! We’d never let you record nine-minute songs like you do [in State Radio]—in drop D!,” chimes in Corrigan with a laugh and pat on Stokes’ shoulder. In the early days, the husky Colorado native served as the band’s chief spokesman and remains the most comfortable doing interviews.
“We all asked each other, ‘Will you listen to this song and tell me what part sucks,’” he continues shifting to a more serious tone. “It’s always a risky thing when you’re being super vulnerable and sharing something personal and meaningful to you—it’s hard to hear if it is negative. [Before we broke up], there was more fear and more insecurity about, ‘Will they like this tune? If they don’t, how will I take it?’ You can feel when there’s a little bit of fear in the room.”
Beth Hart shares the opening track from her latest album, Bang Bang Boom Boom, live at Relix.
Jamie Lidell sets up in the Relix boiler room and delivers a tune from his 2005 album Multiply
Duane Trucks is happy to announce his new project, King Lincoln. Watch them perform “Coffee” live and acoustic at Relix’s Online-Video Coordinator’s loft in Williamsburg.
Here’s another song from Crystal Bowersox’s new record All That For This, live at Relix.
WYATT share a song in the famed Relix boiler room.
Goodnight, Texas share a song from their latest studio album, A Long Life of Living, live at Relix.
Warren Haynes performs a solo, acoustic version of “Railroad Boy” and explains how he adapted the traditional Celtic song for Gov’t Mule, backstage at the Hangout Music Festival.
Australia’s Alpine recently made their NYC debut at the Relix office with this song from their new album A is for Alpine.
In honor of Umphrey’s McGee’s return to Summer Camp this weekend, we present the group’s Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger performing this version of “The Pequod” from UM’s Anchor Drops.
Dame shares a song from her new EP Preventions of Heartbreak.
- Visions of Bonnaroo Thursday (ALO, Jack Johnson, Polyphonic Spree, Allen Stone…)
- Deer Tick Share "The Rock"
- Win a pair of passes to The NINES Festival
- Robert Hunter Will Return to the Stage for Eight Shows
- Mumford & Sons’ Ted Dwane Shares Photo, Update
- Jack Johnson: Bonnaroo Song, Mumford Cover, "Mudfootball" with Preservation Hall Jazz Band
- The Making of Pretty Lights’ A Color Map of the Sun
- Craig Taborn Trio: Chants
- Crystal Bowersox "Dead Weight"
- Interlocken Confirms Daily Lineups, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Punch Brothers, Keller & The Keels and More Added
- Mumford and Sons Cancel Bonnaroo Show, Summer Tour
- Premiere: Robert Randolph & The Family Band "Born Again"
- Ed Helms: Bonnaroo, Banjos and a Bit of Phish
- Robert Hunter Will Return to the Stage for Eight Shows
- Tedeschi Trucks Band Share New Song
- Warren Haynes to Play Jerry Garcia’s Wolf on Symphony Tour
- Doctor’s Orders: So what should we call the Super Ball IX Newspaper?
- John Kadlecik Posts Statement on Bob Weir’s Collapse
- "I Wanne Be In moe.": The Latest Volunteers
- Bob Weir Escorted Off Stage During Furthur Show
- Vote for Your Favorite "I Wanne Be In moe." Contestant
- Furthur Cancels BottleRock Show as Bob Weir Is Out Of Commision
- Doctor’s Orders: What’s Your Favorite Furthur Song? (Win Copy of Relix Signed by Phil and Bobby)
- On The Verge Poll