Multi-instrumentalists, Chad Urmston, Brad Corrigan, and Pete Heimbold, formed Dispatch after meeting at Middlebury College in Vermont in 1996. The band's first gig was at Cosmic Cantina in Durham, North Carolina. Dispatch relocated to Boston, Massachusetts after they graduated from college. It was here that the band honed their live shows, during which the trio would showcase their versatile musical talents by swapping instrument duties mid-jam.
Despite getting very little airplay, Dispatch's fan base swiftly grew beyond Boston thanks to their music being shared for free on the peer-to-peer program, Napster. Francis told Daily News America
that exposure through Napster meant Dispatch "suddenly went from playing mostly New York and Boston to touring California." Dispatch were avid supporters of Napster and even attended its congressional hearings in 2001, which ultimately resulted in the program being shut down that same year.
In 1994, while visiting Zimbabwe, Urmston met a local gardener named Elias Sithole. Despite living in poverty, Sithole told Urmston of his hope to send his three sons to university in the future. Urmston was inspired to put Sithole's story to song in "Elias
." In 2005, Dispatch helped to form the Elias Fund
, which successfully raised funds for all three of Sithole's children. The charity has since expanded into helping "communities across Zimbabwe to build a promising future for their children through poverty alleviation."
Dispatch announced a hiatus in 2002. Corrigan explained the trio's choice to disband: "Eventually, we competed each other out. Three guys writing songs. Three guys singing lead. We knew we had to grow apart to figure out who each one of us was." A farewell concert took place at the Hatch Shell in Boston on July 31, 2004. Fans from around the world flocked to the event, resulting in a total audience of 110,000 - one of the largest concerts in independent music history. The performance was filmed for the 2005 documentary, The Last Dispatch, which chronicles the band's final twelve days together.
Urmston formed the alt-rock band, State Radio, while Corrigan and Heimbold pursued solo projects during Dispatch's hiatus.
In July 2007, Dispatch reunited to play three nights at Madison Square Garden in New York. All three concerts sold out, despite very little promotion. Dispatch donated all of the money raised from ticket sales to charities fighting poverty in Zimbabwe. At one point during the concerts, the band performed in the middle of the arena atop their old tour van, affectionately called Wimpy.
Dispatch reunited for a second time in June 2009 to play a benefit concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C at the personal request of Morgan Tsvangirai, Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.
In January 2011, Dispatch announced they would be officially ending their hiatus. In May 2011, the band released Dispatch EP, their first studio work since Who Are We Living For? in 2000. That summer, Dispatch embarked on a reunion tour across the US, with the band donating a portion of all ticket proceeds to education programs in local communities.
Dispatch released their first studio album in 12 years, Circles Around the Sun
, in August 2012. In our interview, Urmston
told us how it felt recording an album after all that time: "It's always challenging to put an album together with three different song writers. But being 12 years older and taking all that time away helped as we had a better appreciation for each other."
Urmston told us his favorite Dispatch song of all time is "Mission," adding: "it's so much fun to play - pretty 'Dispatchy' through and through."