Dispatch’s Brad Corrigan Recalls His Roots in Denver

Allen Ralph
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Indie/roots band Dispatch has its origins in Vermont and is based in Boston now, but singer, guitarist and percussionist Brad Corrigan grew up in metro Denver. He went to Littleton High School and lived at Yale and I-25, just south of Cherry Creek. He remembers going to Red Rocks for school picnics in the eighth grade and, indeed, his high school band Dream had a photo shoot at the iconic venue. So naturally, the fact that he gets to headline there with Dispatch is very special for him.

Dispatch formed when Corrigan, Chad Urmston (vocals, guitar, bass, percussion) and Pete Heimbold (vocals, bass, guitar) were all attending Middlebury College in Vermont. They were active from 1996 to 2002, putting out four well-received full-length albums in those six years. Dispatch achieved a respectable cult status, while being known as a sort of “musician’s band.” And then they took a break. Besides a few one-off shows, they were on a needed hiatus until 2011. The guys were niggling with each other, things were off, they needed to recharge, so that’s exactly what they did.

“The primary goal of getting back together was just that we would enjoy doing what we love to do,” says Corrigan. “Rebuilding the dynamic and making sure that our friendships were strong. I think that we felt that if the three of us were in a good place, the music would naturally flow from that. If we weren’t really feeling it in an authentic way, then we would very quickly know that it is better to leave it than try to bring it back out.”

The multi-instrumentalist says that the pressure that they felt from going all in on the band during the early years led to them all feeling burned out. Add a lack of balance in their personal lives and a whole heap of ego, and you've got a recipe for disaster.

“Seven years later, growing up a lot and being able to laugh at who we had been and some of the things we had said to each other, we were able to forgive and forget, and value that we grew up together,” Corrigan says. “We’re so much stronger now because we’ve known each other for 22 years.”

During that break, Dispatch was apart for longer than it was originally together, so it’s natural that the three men grew up somewhat, and soaked up more influences in the interim. The result is a sharper band, energies focused in positive directions.

“I think all of our influences are now percolating through,” Corrigan says. “In the past it might have been, because of ego or because of all the competition, about whoever was ‘winning’ on a particular record with songwriting, or imposing a little too much. Then one or two influences would be forced to be the primary ingredient on a record. Now I feel like everything’s on the table and we’re moving much faster, and we’re not quite as wedded to whose idea is whose. Now we’re like, ‘It’s a great idea. Let's keep moving.’ So I think there’s more freedom. More freedom in our friendships means more freedom in the explanation of our music and the influences. I’m biased, but I think you can hear it in this current record — that there’s more exploration.”

That new record, America, Location 12, dropped on June 2. Corrigan says four tunes are representative of the new album because of how eclectic and diverse they are.

“The first tune [‘Only the Wild Ones’] has a Paul Simon-y, world-music vibe to it, reminiscent of a song called ‘Alias’ that we wrote a long time ago,” he says. “It has a beautiful freedom and energy. The second one is a really heavy, old school Led Zeppelin riff called ‘Skin the Rabbit’ that has a more political bent to it. The third one is called ‘Curse + Crush,’ which I feel is a little more cinematic. It’s about the loss of one of Chad’s family members, and it just has a really deep melancholy to it but a really beautiful production value. The last one is CSN, Simon & Garfunkel — a folky song called ‘Begin Again.’ It’s a pretty wild record, in that it moves from Beatles-y stuff to Pink Floyd-y stuff to Led Zeppelin stuff to Simon and Garfunkel, to who knows what. But I feel like the production team that we worked with created enough of a fingerprint across each song that it feels unified, despite the variety of the influences.”

We can expect about five new songs when Dispatch hits Red Rocks, as well as twelve or thirteen oldies. In addition, the core trio will be joined by Matt Embree of the RX Bandits on bass and guitar, and Mike Sawitzke on keys, plus old friend J.R. on percussion.

“We’ve been rehearsing for the past couple of weeks and getting all the parts done, and I’m really excited to have five singers,” Corrigan says. “We can definitely break into some crazy, fun harmonies. I think we’ll get the best of our folk roots and the best of our rock roots.”

Dispatch, 8 p.m. Thursday, June 15, Ogden Theatre; 7 p.m. Friday, June 16, Red Rocks, 18300 West Alameda Parkway, Morrison, 720-865-2494.

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