Vermont's Middlebury College was the setting for the coming together Brad Corrigan (vocals, drums, guitar, percussion, and harmonica), Chad Urmston (vocals, guitar, bass, and percussion), and Pete Heimbold (vocals, bass, and guitar) as Dispatch in the mid 1990s. The would-be jam band steeped in three-part harmonies made its debut with Silent Steeples in 1996.
This first effort showcased the musicians' ease with each other and their artistry. Despite switching around the instruments and vocal duties, the set was utterly consistent with its folk-rock roots fluttering around on acoustic pop wings.
The following year, Bang Bang kept the tide rolling with another 10 songs. With a few more dashes of ska and reggae tossed into their acoustic-based pop craft, Dispatch was finding its groove and its audience. Touring around New England, the guys were starting to build a solid fan base.
Four-Day Trials, a collection of live recordings and first takes, didn't drop until the summer of 2000 but was followed in short order by Who Are We Living For? a few months later. On this effort, Dispatch took a step toward the political in terms of songwriting by exploring themes like violence and homelessness. The guys even walked the walk by being arrested for protesting a presidential debate in Boston that did not include Ralph Nader.
All along, Dispatch was a DIY operation focused on the college rock crowd. With “Open Up,” a single from 2001's Gut the Van, a wider audience started to take notice. The cut got some attention from modern rock radio stations and the double-live record enjoyed national distribution.
Despite the rise in prominence, the guys decided in 2003 to take a break. To celebrate all that had been, Dispatch performed a free concert – The Last Dispatch – at Boston's Hatch Shell on July 31, 2004. More than 110,000 fans from all over the world turned out to jam along for what would be the largest event in indie music history. The show was captured in the three-disc All Points Bulletin set.
Their last 12 days together were also captured on film as 2006's The Last Dispatch in order to honor "the band that redefined independent music history."
Corrigan, Urmston, and Heimbold took a few years to pursue outside projects before coming back together in 2007. A handful of benefit concerts spurred the reunion and, of course, the performances were documented and released in a CD/DVD package, Dispatch: Zimbabwe - Live at Madison Square Garden.
In late 2010, Dispatch began hinting at a reunion in 2011, eventually announcing a string of dates that included Red Rocks, Chicaco, Boston, and other stops. Once they got going, Dispatch also signed on to some of the Dave Matthews Band Caravan tour and, later, scheduled their first tour of the UK and Europe slated for early 2012.