Dispatch frontman Chadwick Stokes plays Rams Head in Annapolis on Wednesday

Chadwick Stokes, frontman for Dispatch and other projects like State Radio, performs live at the Rams Head in Annapolis, Maryland on Wednesday, March 8.

Listen to our full conversation on my Beyond the Fame podcast.

WTOP’s Jason Fraley features Chadwick Stokes at Rams Head in Annapolis (Part 1)

Best known as the frontman for Dispatch and other projects such as State Radio, Chadwick Stokes performs live on Rams Head in Annapolis, Maryland, on Wednesday.

“There’s usually a couple of State Radio tunes, a couple of Dispatch tunes, the rest is from the solo repertoire,” Stokes told WTOP.

“I just started working on a rock opera, so we can play a piece of three new songs in a row because they tell a story,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve really talked about it to anyone other than my family and bandmates. Top news!”

The rock opera doesn’t yet have a title because it’s still in its early stages, but Stokes is playing with its title, “American Refugee,” like a refugee fleeing U.S. politics.

“I think the action of the rock opera will unfold in the early 70s,” he said. “Now I’m at the stage where I need to know what part of the story [the songs] move on, so a lot of lyrical jokes.

“My brother, who plays in The Pintos, and I have been on the rails a few times, jumped off freight trains a few times, so that’s where a lot of this rock opera takes place.”

Born in 1976 in Massachusetts, Stokes grew up listening to music Creedence Clearwater Revival before discovering grunge music in high school.

“It was a wonderful age to witness this new feeling,” he said. “I grew up on a small farm in a very small town. Being a sophomore and having everything from Nirvana and Pearl Jam… it was a great time to feel like we had our own music.”

Stokes formed the band Dispatch in 1996 and they released their debut album Silent Steeples in 1996. But it was their second album Bang Bang (1997) that cemented their legacy.

The song “General” features the catchy refrain “Take a shower and shine your shoes” against a pacifist anti-war message of “I’ve seen others and I’ve found this fight ain’t worth fighting.”

“I’ve always been fascinated by war, the idea of ​​conscription and young people going to do the bidding of some man who’s in their safe mansion,” Stokes said. “It’s always the humanization of war and how absurd it is to shoot or try to kill someone you don’t know or have met who is doing the same thing as you, just following orders [your] country”.

It was the opposite of a sophomore slump, as the album also included the romantic song “Out Loud,” with the catchy line, “You know, I’d be proud if you called my name out loud.”

“I was in Zimbabwe when I wrote this,” Stokes said. “Right after high school, I took a vacation and thought about a girl I had a crush on thousands of miles away. I had a lot of time in Zimbabwe to wander around with my guitar – this song just came out of that.”

The band continued to evolve through their third album Four-Day Trials (1999), their fourth album Who Are We Living For? (2000) and the fifth album Circles Around the Sun (2012). After a short hiatus, the band reunited for their sixth album, America, Location 12 (2017), featuring songs such as “Only the Wild Ones”, “Skin the Rabbit” and “Painted Yellow Lines”.

“We recorded it in Stinson Beach, north of San Francisco,” Stokes said. “There was a missile bunker that we discovered … they’re almost covered in mud right on the water. These hills you think are normal hills, but you see these big iron doors and you can go through some of them. On the inside of one of them was written: “Place 12.”

While continuing to record albums with Dispatch, Stokes also records with his other band State Radio, which has toured with the likes of Dave Matthews Band and, for a more political bent, Rage Against the Machine.

“With a big election coming up, or Trump being so crazy — he was such a clown — it was like, what can I do?” I say, “Enough about that, let’s get to it!” Stokes said.

“I have a batch of songs for the new record of the State Radio. I can either do that or rock opera. So there’s a bit of juggling going on, but that’s what the songs are saying to me.”

WTOP’s Jason Fraley features Chadwick Stokes at Rams Head in Annapolis (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation on my Beyond the Fame podcast.

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