Interview with Pete Francis: Wading In An Iron Sea

Pete FrancisDispatch has been disbanded for about four years now. And Pete Francis, since then has been carving his own personal niche in the stone of independent music. His folk-rock style contrasts heavily with Dispatch’s stylized funk/reggae/rock/hip- hop, allowing Francis to draw people in with his old band’s name, but glue their ears to the speakers with his own personal sound.

His music career began in the early 1990s when he joined Middlebury College classmates Brad “Braddigan” Corrigan and Chad “Chetro” Urmston in the all-acoustic trio One Fell Swoop. After disputes with another band, OFS became Dispatch, the independent music giant that would one day become the first band without a major label to play Madison Square Garden.

Yet, like all great things, Dispatch eventually ran out of fuel, and while the band still reunites time and again (The Hatch Shell concert and Dispatch: Zimbabwe), it’s three members have all found their own niches in the music industry. Francis, after four studio albums, sounds truly comfortable, and confident, with his music, most especially his latest release, Iron Sea And The Cavalry.

Iron Sea And The Cavalry displays Francis’ affection for Americana, folk, and rock music, yet his ambitious instrumentation and mellow mood keep the album from sounding anything but traditional. A “journey” in the eyes of Francis, the 10 tracks bend and bleed into each other. Francis’ soothing voice keeps the listener mellow, while the instruments surge all around. There is no great shock. Instead the album keeps the listener at a medium pace, understanding and comprehending, yet without losing interest.

Pete Francis recently spoke with the Aquarian about his former band, being a solo artist, and his new album. The conversation flowed as such:

Dispatch sold thousands of records and sold-out hundreds, who knows maybe even thousands of shows, and had a huge following, all of which was done without the help of a record label. What do you think enabled you to accomplish so much without a record label when most artists require them?

I think what we did is that we took everything a label would do into our own hands, and we took unconventional approaches to getting our music out there. We were still in college so we would get the word out to our friends in different colleges, and go to a school and play.

At the shows we would sell our own CDs. Sometimes we would give a box of CDs to people on our street team and they would go and sell those CDs in their school. We built something that was kind of an original model to promote one’s music.