For the members of Dispatch, their upcoming shows at Madison Square Garden will bring things back to where it all started—for the second time. In 2007, after three years apart, Chad Urmston, Pete Heimbold and Brad Corrigan reunited for three sold-out benefit shows at Madison Square Garden. The gigs, which were billed as the first sold-out MSG plays by an independent band, benefited charities in Zimbabwe and led to another reunion date benefitting the African country in 2009. Though their personal relationships were strained by the time they formally parted ways in 2004, the reunion shows rejuvenated the band and led to a formal Dispatch reunion in 2011. The trio has released a self-titled EP, a DVD, a live album and the full-length album Circles Around the Sun in that time and they plan to release a new single before July 4th weekend. They have also toured the world, selling out marquee venues like Morrison, Colorado’s Red Rocks and New York’s Radio City Music Hall along the way.
On July 10 and 11, Dispatch will return to Madison Square Garden for the first time since 2007 for two arena-size benefit shows. Billed as Dispatch: Hunger, the shows will aid a number of charities including Calling All Crows, Center for Hunger-Free Communities, New York City Coalition Against Hunger, No Kid Hungry and WhyHunger. They are also the band’s only proper headlining show in the United States for the remainder of 2015. While prepping for the big gigs—which will feature support spots by Dr. Dog and John Butler Trio on July 10 and 11, respectively—Urmston reflected on his band’s return to the World’s Most Famous Arena. He also offered a state of the union on his band four years after their reunion and hints that fans should expect a new album in 2016.
The group released its “Bound By Love” single last week and all proceeds from sales between June 29 and July 31 “will support hunger initiatives that increase access to nutritious foods for underserved neighborhoods and support giving people.” Click here to download.
Dispatch is only playing a few US gigs this year but they are big ones—two nights at Madison Square Garden in mid-July. They are also benefit shows supporting Hunger in America. What led to the decision to focus on these big special shows instead of a proper tour?
We wanted to do a show that carries meaning with it, and we had such great memories doing those three shows in 2007 that really were a marriage of music, ethics, social issues, and such. It was such a highlight of our lives, and we said to ourselves, “Let’s see if we could go back and play some shows overseas, but let’s just play once here in North America that really counts.” In that way, it was kind of an experiment to go back to MSG a few years later and do it again.
We just wanted to be able to play on a cause a lot of people don’t know much about—something that is an undercurrent as far as issues that we all face today. Hunger seems like a good one to learn more about. It kind of goes unnoticed sometimes.
It has been three years since Dispatch released a new studio album and that project was your first full-length recording in 12 years. Does the band have any plans to return to the studio?
We’ve been writing a bunch, and we have had a few three or four-day writing sessions. We had three of them on either end of gigs during the past few years, where we got together for a few days. So we have a bunch of tune, and trying to figure out which ones to focus on. One of them [“Bound By Love”] we just recorded in Australia when we were there; I think we’re going to release that on June 26, and we’re definitely going to play that at the Madison Square Garden shows. Practice for the show starts Saturday [June 27], and so I don’t know if any new ones besides that one are going to make it into the setlist. I hope one or two others get sprinkled in, but we got a lot of songs to play over the two nights and we’re not playing that much so we’re trying to squeeze as much in already. For me, it’s always exciting when we incorporate really new stuff.
You mentioned that your new songs were co-written and worked out by the three members of Dispatch. Do you think your next studio project will be more of a group record, featuring songs co-written by the band, rather than each member bringing in their own idea?
We will see—our writing process has always been pretty similar. Guys have ideas, and we kind of hack them out. Sometimes the ideas are fresher out than others, so sometimes it’s better to have a little idea and everyone kind of jump on. That’s a really fun way to do it because then everyone feels that they are a part of the full creative process. It’s less fun, I think, when someone comes with a song to the table and it’s 99% done, then it is just ownership from the other two guys. I think that it’s also that we’re older now—more mature or something—where the process has a little bit more appreciation and acceptance instead of fighting over for this and that.