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Published: 2012/09/25
by Alex Baker

Dispatch: "Feels So Good" Again

To figure out where Dispatch members Brad Corrigan, Pete Francis and Chadwick Stokes are on tour on any given day, you can look at an interactive map on their website. To figure out where their heads are at, you need look no farther than some of their latest album’s track titles – “Never or Now,” “Not Messin’,” “Get Ready Boy,” “Come to Me” and “Feels So Good.”

Whether subliminal or not, the song names reflect the circumstances that have conspired over the past couple years to reunite Corrigan, Francis and Stokes – and their reasons for returning to one of the most successful bands in independent music history.

“It’s the perfect picture of family – we love each other deeper than anyone else on the planet, but we can also wound each other deeper than anyone else,” says Brad Corrigan, aka Braddigan, of the rifts that led to the band’s hiatus in 2002.

“Chad, Pete and I were in a place where we knew we had to go our separate ways to figure out who each of us really was individually, what we believed in. Our egos, our pride, our need to prove ourselves – we hurt each other as profoundly as you can ten years ago.”

In describing the turmoil and emotion that was Dispatch a decade ago, then coming back around to the Dispatch of today, there is the sense that Corrigan sees things as coming full circle. Like his bandmates Pete and Chad, he is a multi-talented musical aficionado, a disciple of, primarily, drums and percussion, but also guitar, keyboard, ukulele, and even something called a charango, as well as a songwriter. For years he’s been honing his musical skills, traveling the world, and contributing a considerable amount of time and effort to social initiatives like his Love, Light and Melody foundation that confronts extreme poverty. Eventually, though, the time was right for a renewal.

“It just boils down to Chad, Pete and I – because our friendships were restored, then we have total freedom. If we enjoy being together and we’ve missed each other, the sky’s the limit – so let’s go ride the thing, let’s go enjoy it as a gift.

“As soon as our friendships were strong, and knowing our fans had not gone anywhere – and they were so gracious to give us this much time – It was like a no-brainer.”

And so, here we are – with their first new material since 2000 in Circles Around the Sun, released last month, Dispatch has returned to both the studio and the road with a level of comfort, confidence and joie de vivre that has re-ignited their legions of fans. After tucking their first ever European tour under their belts earlier this year, Pete, Chad and Braddigan have turned their attention to their current North American tour.

“It’s great, man, we’re playing new songs – it’s fun to be back in discovery mode,” says Brad. “We’re really stoked for this domestic tour – it’s gonna be a new experience for us because over in Europe, our fans have been waiting 15 years for us to come, and that’s based on their love for our older catalogue.

“So, for this domestic tour, 30-to-50 percent of the setlist each night will be new material, and that’s just a really fun challenge – you don’t really know what to expect. You’re bringing a lot of energy to new material.”

Meanwhile, that new material contains an energy of its own. Drawn heavily from the experiences of the band members during their decade apart, the songs reflect the individual journeys and experiences of three men who were maturing out of their raucous, star-struck 20’s and into their more mature, introspective 30’s. They were all exploring different aspects of social activism, whether Chad’s work in Zimbabwe, Pete’s work on education or Brad’s Nicaraguan sojourn and contributions to Love, Light and Melody.

While Dispatch has always had a grassroots, activist element to their message – the president of Zimbabwe once personally asked them to stage a benefit concert – the time the guys spent apart allowed them each to pursue it in their own way. This is reflected in each and every song – it is evident the authors of each one really took ownership of its meaning and tone, and invested their personal beliefs and opinions into it.

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