Dispatch Talks Touring Again, Mayan Apocalypse, and Changes in Music Industry

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on June 13 2012 11:16 AM

Dispatch, which originated in Vermont in the mid-1990s, is back on the road touring again after a nearly 10-year hiatus.

The band broke up in 2002, but amazingly saw its popularity continue to grow despite not playing together. The band performed in front of 100,000 people at its final breakup concert in Boston and later quickly sold out concerts at venues such as Madison Square Garden.

The band's trio of Chad Stokes (guitars/vocals), Pete Francis (guitars/vocals), and Brad Corrigan (drums/vocals) all kept busy during the hiatus by working on different projects. Stokes became the front man for the popular State Radio, while Francis and Corrigan pursued different solo projects.

But eventually the band, best known for the hit The General, decided to come back together and record another album.  It released a new EP last May and began a brief tour through the United States later that year. It will release its latest album Circles Around the Sun on August 21.

The International Business Times got a chance to meet up with Stokes and Corrigan at the 2012 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, which was the first time the popular jam band played the festival together. In the conversation we discussed what brought the band back together, how the music industry changed during their hiatus, the Mayan Apocalypse, and how long they plan on staying together.

International Business Times: You are back playing together -- been touring for the last year or so. I was interested in what brought you guys back and what has been sustaining you through your most recent tour.  

Brad Corrigan: That was a long break between '02 and now.  So it was good to get a place where we really missed making music again. Missed each other. We spent a lot of time together between the ages of 18 to 25, I think. Kind of the forumlative years. Lots of hang time, but got a little burnt out.

Chad Stokes: It was just too many drugs back in the day, so we just needed some time away. Now it feels better. Plus I was dating Pete (Francis) for a little awhile, but now Pete's married, which I've come to terms with.

Corrigan: I'm single, which is kind of awkward, because now it's like I'm the guy.

IBT: You mentioned the drugs, so this is a cleaner, more sober Dispatch going forward?

Stokes: Yes.

Corrigan: For the most part. I have an unbelievable addiction to Halls (cough drops).

Stokes: The addiction doesn't go away.

Corrigan: It just morphs. Apple Juice and Halls? Wow what a combo.

IBT: With the big hiatus, how have you seen the music industry change and what's relevant for you making music going forward?

Stokes: We were lucky because it just started to break open for us right when Napster came through. We were on the front end. Because when we started we were making tape cassettes. So it's cool because you go through tapes to CDs to air.

Corrigan: We almost had eight-tracks, man.

But now we are talking clouds. How freaking weird is that when someone says I'll get it out of your cloud.

IBT: So how do you keep up with that?

Corrigan: Hiring the right people to keep us hip to it. I think the trend we are most excited about is fans and bands.

Stokes: It's all fan-driven.

Corrigan: Being totally brought together. Creating music, creating more live shows, having a closer connection to fans.

IBT: How does social media play into that?  Other people have told me being active on social brings all of that together like the live shows and your fans.

Corrigan: It can be good, but at the same time there is more noise to cut through. I mean Twitter? Oh my gosh. I like Instagram because a photograph captures a moment, but trying to come up with a cheeky 140, Uhh what do you call it, I don't even know. That's how active I'm in it.

Stokes: Digits?

Corrigan: Digits? We'll call them digiradoos. I think it's really good for us because we already have a fan base to stay in touch with. If we were a new band and picked up a Twitter account and a Facebook account and everything else, you have a lot to cut through.

IBT: You guys are known for playing massive shows, and Bonnaroo isn't anything new in that regard, what is it about your music that keeps bringing out these massive crowds to see you?

Stokes: At this point I think it's a campfire sing-along. We've been around long enough that people know the songs, or in some ways grown up with the songs. I think people just come to sing-along and its fun for us to look out in the crowd and see people joining us.

IBT: And you haven't noticed any missing connection from when you were gone for 10 years or so to now?

Stokes: It's almost like people are more connected. It's cool. That's the weird thing about us that when we got bigger it was when we didn't play.

Corrigan: So now we are getting smaller.

Stokes: So we are going to stop playing.

Corrigan: So we are going to stop (laughs). Our manager is cowering over in the corner, 'Those are the select words you don't say in an interview.'

IBT: What are some of the things you are excited about in 2012, 2013?

Corrigan: Bro, I don't know if you got the memo, but the Mayan calendar says it's over in December.

Stokes: So we aren't looking too far past that.

Corrigan: 2013? At this point that's not even happening.

IBT: So what will you do before it all ends?

Corrigan: Put out the biggest record in the end of the Earth's history before we melt into the Earth.

IBT: You have to deal with that plus the zombie apocalypse.

Stokes: Yeah that's true too.

Corrigan: Yeah! We are going to fire our management and just do it old school.

Stokes: We are going to do a lot of cartwheels. Mostly just cartwheels, nonstop.

Corrigan: (Laughs) This is what happens when you stack interviews!

IBT: How many interviews is this thus far for you today?

Corrigan: It's a LeBron stat. 15 -- he had 15 rebounds. We had 15 interviews.

IBT: Tying it all back together, do you plan on doing this for a while now? No hiatus anytime soon?

Stokes: I don't know.

Corrigan: No plan.

Stokes: The album is coming out so we'll tour that for a bit.

Corrigan: We really believe in that album so that will be a cool thing. But as soon as we are tired of touring that album...

Stokes: We'll probably take some more time.

Corrigan: Yeah, thankfully we have the freedom to not play it into the ground.

IBT: So work on some more solo projects?

Corrigan: Yeah but anytime we miss working together we can work together like that (snaps fingers). We don't want to take it for granted and push it too far.

IBT: You want to make sure the chemistry is strong.

Corrigan: Yeah. But thank you to our family of fans, they will always show up. That's a freedom we are blown away by.

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