Friday, October 12, 2012


Back On The Airwaves…

An EXCLUSIVE interview
State Radio’s

By Stephen SPAZ Schnee

     Chad Urmston is a busy man. The singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is in the midst of balancing a tour with his band Dispatch and, at the same time, promoting the forthcoming release of Rabbit Inn Rebellion, the latest album from his other musical project, State Radio. While Dispatch may be the more well-known of the two projects, State Radio is bound to make quite the impact with the new album, which is edgier and louder than anything he’s released in a career that stretches back nearly 20 years.
     Chad Urmston was a member of Hermit Thrush during the first part of the ‘90s but by 1996, he had left that band and formed Dispatch with Brad Corrigan and Pete Heimbold. By the time Dispatch went on ‘hiatus’ some six years later, they had become one of the most popular acts of the jam-band genre. When the band played their farewell show in 2004, they were predicting a turnout of 20,000 to 30,000 fans coming to celebrate with them. Instead, 150,000+ people saw Dispatch play their farewell show. This performance has gone down as being the largest concert in independent music history.
     State Radio was formed after the dissolution of Dispatch and while they are not entirely dissimilar to his previous band’s musical approach, Urmston was successful in steering State Radio in a different direction. Adding some of his punk and hardcore influences into the mix, State Radio walked it like they talked it. Throughout his career, Urmston has lyrically addressed many issues, but with State Radio, his socially conscious heart and soul have blossomed. And with each release, the passion and the intensity have grown.
     While State Radio continued to move forward with a handful of releases, Dispatch performed the odd reunion show until the finally reunited in 2011. Juggling both bands has kept Urmston busy, especially since both bands were recording new albums at roughly the same time. Dispatch released their 2012 album, Circles Around The Sun, in August and immediately hit the road to promote it. State Radio’s powerful and raw album Rabbit Inn Rebellion hits the shelves in October and once the Dispatch tour is over, Urmston will then hit the road with his Radio mates. It may seem like a lot of activity over such a short period of time, but for a man with as much passion and conviction as Urmston, he’s just doing what comes naturally.
     Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to catch up with Chad Urmston and chat a bit about State Radio while he was on the West Coast trek of his tour with Dispatch….

SPAZ: Rabbit Inn Rebellion is just about ready to drop. How are you feeling about the project and the reaction you’ve received so far?
CHAD URMSTON: Great. The album took us quite a little time to make, so to finally have people listening to it and getting back to us is great. It’s who State Radio is: it captures the most energy, more than the other albums. We’re really psyched about it.

SPAZ: What inspired you to create a concept album in an age when many listeners seem to pay more attention to singles and individual tracks?
CHAD: You know, I guess I’ve always loved the idea of having some kind of thread through an album. Our next album, I’d like to do a really coherent story that starts right off the bat from song one to song 12 or whatever.

SPAZ: As a whole, I think the album works extremely well, but the individual tracks sound pretty outstanding on their own as well.
CHAD: Thanks, man. Thanks a lot. Some of the songs are quite old, some of them are new. Its cool to have it out there after having worked on it for so long.

SPAZ: Are you concerned that some of the songs may be misinterpreted by fans or critics? Great art is often interpreted in many different ways….
CHAD: I think that’s the beauty of it. One of the cool things about music, like poetry, it’s not always so obvious and people may come away with a much cooler interpretation than I even intended.

SPAZ: When you started writing and recording the album, did you already have the concept idea planned out or did it just sort of reveal itself over time?
CHAD: I think we really concentrated on working until we felt like we were ready. We threw a bunch of songs out there and these 11 songs, they really presented themselves as being ready to go out to the world, the ones we felt good about.

SPAZ: Compared to some of your past releases, the album sounds more raw and powerful. Did you try to translate your emotions into the overall sound of the album?
CHAD: Yeah, I think some of it has to do with… I’m kind of in two bands in the moment. So Dispatch, having just released an album fairly recently, it kind of narrowed and focused State Radio’s sound. When you play in two separate bands, you get that release in the sense of what each band is. State Radio’s identity is now, more than ever, about the rawness and losing oneself in that energy, whether it’s live or recording. Just trying to hit that raw nerve where there’s not a whole lot of thinking and it’s more about emotion.

SPAZ: Personally, growing up, I absorbed and learned a lot through the records I would buy, whether the band was socially conscious or not. Do you hope that your albums do the same for your listeners?
CHAD: Yeah, that’s a real cool part of it, when people come to us and say “I didn’t know much about this issue” or “I never gave much thought about the death penalty”… (Pauses) I never really have an agenda. Its more like “This is what’s going on inside my head, this is what’s bothering me and this is how I deal with that”. If people are like “I never thought about that”, then that just makes it come full circle and it’s really fulfilling for us.

SPAZ: There is so happening on Rabbit Inn Rebellion. What influences you, musically?
CHAD: I like the idea that the bones of State Radio is just drums, guitar and bass and amps turned up loud, but I’m always interested in doing almost subliminal parts that take a few listens to get the hang of. I also like experimenting with sounds like the organ or knocking on trash cans. In the recording process, we get the bones of the song and think “Where can we take this? What additions can we make to it?” Whether its glockenspiel, banging on a Christmas stand or having a friend come in and play violin on it, we’ll add stuff like that…

SPAZ: Obviously because of your connection with Dispatch, its easy for critics to lump you in with other jam-bands, no matter how unfair it may seem. How would you classify State Radio?
CHAD: The jam band thing…. I think Dispatch never fell in with that jam thing either, but our fanbase definitely grew in a jam-band way, and I think the only way critics could explain the size of the venues we were playing and having no mainstream media, they were like “Oh, they must be a jam-band”. Recently, I’ve kind of embraced the jam-band thing, at least with Dispatch, because it’s cool: its more about the people. With State Radio, at this point, I just say Rock, but people will categorize us as they will.

SPAZ: Do you view the internet as a blessing or a curse for State Radio? Do you think it takes away some of the mystery?
CHAD: Overall, I think the internet is great for an independent band. It’s a way to get your music out there. As an artist, you can still navigate how powerful you want to be. If you want to be on Twitter or if you want to do this or that, that’s cool. If you want to say “No interviews: like Tool, then I think that’s great, too. I’m not huge into social media. I don’t have a separate Facebook account. I don’t even know how to navigate that stuff.

SPAZ: What’s next for State Radio?
CHAD: We’re psyched to play these songs live. We’ll probably have my friend Matt Embree from the great band RX Bandits as the fourth member for this tour. He helped out with a bunch of harmonies on this record. We’ll tour in the fall, Europe in March.

SPAZ: What do you currently have spinning on your CD, DVD or record players?
CHAD: I’ve been listening to Jethro Tull’s Stand Up on my record player. And I’ve been listening to this band called Spirits Of The Red City. They’re quite good.

Thanks to Chad Urmston

Special thanks to Robert Greenwood, Jason Croke and Mark Jourdian





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