Re-published with permission from ListenUp Myrtle Beach
BY CHRIS MOWDER
Dangermuffin has seen a lot over the past year.
After the release of their album “Olly Oxen Free” last spring, the Folly Beach-based trio of Dan Lotti, Mike Sivilli and Steven Sandifer spent the remainder of 2012 racking up miles in a van while touring extensively across the U.S. and back.
Though things haven’t slowed down much for this laid-back group of guys in 2013, they’ll find themselves back in their home state Friday bringing their “Sand-blasted Roots Rock” to the Grand Strand.
The performance — their second local stop this year, following a great show in February — will take place at Pirate’s Cove Lounge in North Myrtle Beach beginning at 9 p.m., with Wilmington’s Dubtown Cosmonauts opening. Cover is $5 at the door.
ListenUp spoke with Lotti, the group’s singer/guitarist, recently about Dangermuffin’s growing success, grueling tour schedule and love for music.
Here’s what he had to say:
You guys are one a string of successful acts to pop up from Charleston in recent years. What’s it been like to be part of that and to help carry the flag for your city?
Lately, especially the Charleston music scene has just been budding with talent. Shovels and Rope and Carrie Ann Hearst, she’s always been a local darling here and they’re just killing it now. Last I heard they’re selling out London now. They’re doing amazing.
This local scene down here has really just blown up and we’re really happy to be part of that. We recently did a residency on Monday nights here in town and we thought it’d be a great chance to bring local musicians together and we had folks like Whitt [Algar] from Crowfield playing with us and plenty of others and it was great.
I think that if you can do things like that, then you’re a significant player in the music scene and I think we’d embrace any sort of title that comes with that because it’s really important to us to be a conduit of the musical community and represent our area the best we can.
I think that’s really what it’s about. Yeah, we have been able to keep the band together and keep going and that becomes a big part, because after awhile you just kind of become that last band standing in certain situations and we’re happy to just be doing it.
I interviewed your bandmate Mike Sivilli back in 2010 (Interview here). What would you say has been the biggest change for Dangermuffin since that time?
Well, since 2010 we’ve been touring nationally and we’ve established what I’d say is a national niche presence which is just amazing for us.
We started in Charleston as just a bar band playing 5-6 nights a week here in town and it supported us so that we could start writing our own music.
In 2010, we were a somewhat regional band but mostly a local band. After the summer of that year we took that step toward having a national presence, which has been great ... we’ve seen a lot of growth.
As the band’s fanbase continues to grow and you reach new levels of success in your career do you feel yourself thinking differently about the business of music? Or is it still just about going out and playing and having fun?
I think what we’ve always kept as our goal is just to be able to continue to do what we’re doing. That’s always been our goal: existence.
We want to keep playing music and keep everything balanced and try not to go into too much debt and keep writing and creating new music. And that’s really it, since the beginning.
We try to stay humble and stay close to that purpose and it seems to be steering us in the right direction.
You’ve toured quite a bit over the past few years. What’s life on the road like for Dangermuffin?
It’s been awesome. We’ve found great people and everywhere we’ve gone there’s been these great communities.
It’s been an adventure to just get out and meet everybody have all these experiences with a lot of these festivals and meeting a whole lot of different bands.
It’s been a great couple years and a one-of-a-kind adventure for us.
You guys have played a lot of great festivals over the past few years. What kind of plans do you have for this summer festival season?
Most of what we’re doing this summer is Coastal. There’s a West Virginia festival called Camp Barefoot that we’re excited about ... a lot of stuff in that area, West Virginia and Virginia.
This year we’re doing some smaller festivals where we can have a little more prominent billing. We love doing all these events, but sometimes with the larger festivals where you’re a mid-level band, your time slots are really early like, say noon on Friday.
It’s nice with the smaller events to have more prominent billing, and we find that with those events there are really great communities surrounding them and we’re really looking forward to doing some great stuff this summer.
You’re coming up on a year since “Olly Oxen Free” was released, looking back are you happy with how that whole album came together and the response to it thus far?
Yeah, we really are pleased. We’re tight with the Homegrown Music Network which is like a grassroots organization of jamband radio stations and media outlets, and “Olly Oxen Free” was No. 1 on their radio charts, which are national radio charts.
We were on there for like 14 weeks straight at No. 1, so just to have that alone happen and have that much radio play and have all these different stations embracing the music has definitely exceeded our expectations.
We’re totally happy and we’re proud to have such a great local music scene — we recorded the album here locally — and it’s just great to be coming from South Carolina and the Charleston coast.
What are you working on right now? Are you already deep into making the next set of tunes or still just focusing on touring?
We’re in the writing phase of the next album. It’s one of those things where we don’t ever want to feel rushed with what we’re doing.
Our pace is very patient and it’s not something where we feel like we need a new album every year or anything like that. We released “Moonscapes” in 2010, “Olly Oxen Free” in 2012 and as the writing comes together for the new record it will probably be early next year before we get around to recording and releasing something new.
And that’s totally fine with us. We still feel like “Olly Oxen Free” has some life and some legs to it and we’re happy to just take it all as it comes.
I heard there may be an “all-acoustic” album in the works, is that true?
We kinda been playing around Charleston as Acousticmuffin, where Stephen plays the upright bass and we both play acoustic guitars, me and Mike. And that’s always fun.
But, you know, I’ve always felt like the acoustic element has been there with all of our Dangermuffin records in the past and we said “Hey, maybe we can do an all acoustic record...” but we have so many ideas for the band that we feel like we still want to do another Dangermuffin record.
We’d been considering doing just an acoustic album, but we don’t like to limit ourselves so our next record will probably have that acoustic element and all types of other songs as well.
When I listen to your music it always seems like you just kinda got up there and started playing and it all came together. How much work does it take to make songs that sound so effortless?
It’s definitely a very natural process.
We try not to make it with any pretension at all, very laid-back, very chill and just very non-demanding of people. You can either take it or leave it and it’s really up to them.
That’s kinda the vibe we’re going for.
What have been your impressions of playing in Myrtle Beach?
Obviously it’s very close to Charleston and we love the Folly Beach to Myrtle Beach connection. It’s the same vibe, same thing, same energies from the same ocean that you guys have up there and that’s kind of what we base a lot of our vibes on and I think that resonates with people from Myrtle.
We’re always looking for great communities of people and we definitely get that when when come to Myrtle Beach.
Some of our other drives are like 20+ hours, so it’s really nice when we can keep it within two and still get back home.
How about Pirate’s Cove, how was your experience with that venue?
Oh yeah. It’s a great room. We always like to work with good people. You can play any number of venues, but if you can meet the people who are running the venue that really means something.
Usually the best vibe and best communities are involved with those sort of environments. Pirate’s Cove is exceptional in that way in that the owner is there and takes very good care of us and that’s why we’ve really made it our home in Myrtle Beach.
We’ve played there maybe 3-4 times now and each time we play we’ve kind of built the audience up a little bit and it’s been a lot of fun to take up almost like a residency there.
What’s a Dangermuffin live show like? What can fans expect to see or how do you explain it for folks who haven’t seen you all before?
We’re going to play a lot of our original music. We put a lot of credence into our original songs and we’ll give folks a heavy dose of that. It’s a very laid-back vibe and at the same time it’s very joyful.
The instrumentation of the band is unique in that there’s no bass player — it’s just acoustic guitar, drums and electric guitar — so it’s a very musical approach that we try to take.
It can be almost Jazz-like at times with restraint and musical tonality. Some improvisational jamming will take place.
And it’s also a beachy, sort of party-like vibe. That’s kind of what we’re all about.
Dangermuffin will perform Friday at Pirate’s Cove Lounge, 205 Main St., North Myrtle Beach. The show will begin at 9 p.m. with opening act Dubtown Cosmonauts (Wilmington, N.C.) and cover is $5 at the door. Visit piratescovelounge.com, call 249-8942 or click here for more details.