Exclusive Record interview with band Dispatch

This Saturday, Dispatch, the rock band from Middlebury, Vt., once again visited our campus, this time to celebrate the inauguration of President Morty Schapiro. Our Preston Hillman caught up with them before the show.

What was your reaction to Who Are We Living For? debuting at #17 on the Billboard Top Internet Album Sales chart?

Pete: I think we were totally surprised. I think we sold 900 copies that first week, and we didn’t really think that that was enough to be ahead of Sting.

Brad: We were psyched.

And how many copies have you sold to date?

Pete: About 3,000 right now.

Brad: That was the only independent record on the Billboards. I thought it was going to be all indie, but Bomber Records was right up there with – do I have to say it?

Pete: You have to say it.

Brad: Warner Brothers, Universal.

Who Are We Living For? seems to be a step in the mainstream direction while experimenting in new genres and with new instruments and techniques. It’s really a big change from your last three albums. Was this a conscious effort or just an evolution?

Chad: Just an evolution. I think people who have seen our live shows would understand where we’re coming from with this album and plus I feel like each disc is pretty different.

Pete: I hope that our aim wasn’t to do like a mainstream type sound. We were getting into a lot of different styles. We had been listening to a lot of Rage. At the same time we were listening to a lot of funk and Grateful Dead.

Brad: I wonder if the mainstream reaction is because it’s produced well; I mean because it sounds like a big record?

Pete: I think the main thing is we wanted to bring in all the different styles. And a lot of times records these days are stuff in one [style], like progressive rock, but we did everything. . .

Brad: We did everything we wanted to do, for sure.

Pete: . . .from folk to heavy metal.

Brad: The development of like six or seven instrumental funk jams – that’s just us trying to stay fresh in between songs, and then at the end realizing that we really liked how they linked other songs on the record. There are tons of different songs and styles, so, I think we weren’t worried about risking it. Too many records are just blah.

Chad: It was also really natural. There was no decision made, this is just what came out.

Was most of the songwriting done in the studio or beforehand?

Brad: Beforehand.

Pete: Well musically some of it, some of the funk jams, were done in the studio.

Chad: All of the songs had been around for a while, some of the guitar parts were just kind of flushed out in the studio.

What did each of you do with your time off this summer?

Pete: We had five weeks off. I actually worked on a project of my own, and these guys traveled around.

Chad: I went to Ireland for three weeks, and was over there working with Protestant and Catholic kids trying to – it was a peace and reconciliation camp.

Brad: Home to the west coast, and worked at a camp in Arizona for two weeks, and towards the end of it did a little traveling. It was just a crucial time for each one of us to do kind of our own thing and get out there and get fresh before we jump back into the world.

Do you really think you could take Incubus down in the formally challenged game of hoops?

Brad: Hell yeah.

Pete: No question.

Brad: They’ve got nothing.

Pete: Any sport. We could take them in any sport.

How did that all come about, challenging them in your liner notes?

Brad: Chad beat three of us, three on one.

Chad: I saw Incubus and I saw that they had some skills. I thought that they were cool, we got their album and we read in their liner notes that they were very proud of their basketball skills, and we want to take them down.

Pete: If you’re listening to this, Incubus: we want to take you guys down.

Brad: You don’t know what it feels like, bros.

You all were guitarists when you met at Middlebury. How has it been adapting to your new primary instruments?

Brad: Well we all used to play one guitar collectively, and now we have enough money to get three individual ones, so I like that.

Pete: I think we just wanted to get into different styles of music. Brad got really into the drums, and my brother was a bass player, so I was trying to get into the bass. Chad’s a multi-instrumentalist, he’s a hell of a drummer.

Brad: Chad doesn’t play anything, really.

Pete: Chad’s been playing trombone since second grade; that’s basically his first instrument.

Brad: I don’t know if we’d still honestly be playing anyway because it gets pretty monotonous to play one instrument all the time, so you have a break-through on one instrument and then you get fired up for another one. [In a humorous tone] And now I think that’s become a part of the Dispatch trademark.

What are your thoughts on the Napster controversy? Do you support the trading of Dispatch MP3s?

Brad: No controversy, bring it on, we want more and more and more of it. It’s incredible. It’s so good for live bands. We’re behind it. Keep it going. We show up at schools where we’ve never played before and there are tons of kids ready to hear us play. We may lose a couple of CD sales, but. . .

Pete: Hopefully people will buy the CDs just to own the whole package. [Impersonating Boston area student] I mean, I like tradin’ on the intanet, but you know, whateva, I like to own the album.

Who are some of your biggest musical influences?

Chad: Jethro Tull and Rage Against the Machine.

It must be upsetting with the recent split.

Chad: Yes, but they’re going to come out with a bunch of unreleased material, which will be nice. [Pete imitates Chad crying] I respect them for breaking up, because I think the decision process had broken down.

Pete: This is really hard for him.

Chad: I think they were very unhappy.

Brad: He actually has a try out next week with the band. [laughs]

Brad: Well, Zach’s going to be playing with us, so Pete and I are psyched about that.

Pete: Zach just learned the lyrics to “Flying Horses.” [more laughs, impersonations of Zach rapping to “Flying Horses,” off of Dispatch’s Silent Steeples]

Brad: My influences? I’d say from the band context I like a lot of the reggae influence, like from the drums, because all of the rhythm is so cool, and also just because the melodies are generally pretty simple but really get stuck in your head.

My own personal influences I think don’t have quite as much to do with they way we play live. The reggae and the funk – we just naturally got there, I don’t know how, but those seem to be real strong influences. Pete just lays down the fattest bass grooves. I’m a slave to those grooves, and I just slam the sticks to complement them.

Pete: I love James Brown, I mean in terms of funk and what the three of us get into. But then growing up I listened to a lot of Pink Floyd, Van Morrison, Ricky Lee Jones, Joni Mitchell, Peter Gabriel. I do like Radiohead a lot.

Brad: Yeah. Beastie Boys, for sure.

Thanks a lot guys. Any closing thoughts, comments?

Pete: We’d like to thank honeyBrown.

Brad: Just say we have a deep appreciation for our manager, honeyBrown.

Pete: And we’re looking forward to the show tonight. Thanks.