The early days of jam culture saw underground cannabis playing a major role, and now that it is legal in most states, bands flock to areas where they know they can purchase the leafy green and jam their hearts out. Bands like Dispatch are on board with jammin’ and cannabis, but the band also goes further than that. It focuses on melding genres to achieve musical precision, and it spreads its message of love and music around the world as it tours. CULTURE spoke to Chad Stokes Urmstone, vocalist, guitarist, bassist and drummer, about cannabis legalization and why the band loves to tour.
What inspired you to play music that pulls from Americana influence, and how did you all first get started playing together?
Pete [Francis Heimbold, vocals, bass, guitar] and his band Manic Red played during my first day of college orientation. I went up to him after his set and told him I played the trombone, and later told him I played guitar too and had some songs. He said he could use a trombone player. We liked the same bands like The Band, The Dead and Nirvana. We renamed the band Hermit Thrush. Then Bradley [Corrigan, vocals, drums, guitar, harmonica] came along from the American southwest and added his Colorado twang.
You’ve mentioned that your latest record is taking your sound in a different direction. What is new and different about it? What sets it apart from previous recordings?
The production and pallet of indie legends John Dragonetti (Submarines) and Mike Sawitzke (Eels). We all felt like we were making an album from the ’70s.
What are you most excited about when it comes to your current tour?
Always great to play Bradley’s home town of Denver at Red Rocks [Amphitheatre]. I’m also excited to play the zoo in Portland and on Shelburne Falls in Vermont.
“The FDA should wake up and stop dragging their heels. Weed, CBD, hemp—it is the future.”
Do you have anything exciting in the works when it comes to writing, record, etc.? Any announcements?
We’re releasing a new song every two weeks for five months.
Have you ever worked cannabis into your music as a theme? If so, how?
“I’m in the open catching all the leaves” from “Bats in the Belfry” and “Do you care for a cup of tea; It’ll get you high” from “Rice Water” are the two obvious ones that come to mind. I write most of my songs about my youngest brother, Willy, and he has about a green a thumb as you’ve ever seen. Last year he left for Scotland right around harvest time at the family farm, leaving me with 50 hours of trimming.
How has cannabis impacted your lives and/or creative processes?
When I smoke and write music, I think it’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done. Then in the morning when I try to recreate it or listen back to the tape, it’s terrible.
How do you feel about legalization so far? What could be done better or differently?
The FDA should wake up and stop dragging their heels. Weed, CBD, hemp—it is the future.
What is your favorite strain or cannabis product?
Our own Cloudberry Farm (sativa-ish). Indica makes me dive inward too much.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
One time my friend and I got really high at a [UCLA] Bruins game and we rode the elevator with an off-duty cop who called us out. He then pretended to arrest us right there in the elevator. Before the doors opened he told us he was kidding. F*ckin’ hell!
Band Name: Dispatch
Genre: Jam, indie
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Most Recent Album: Cross the World