There are certain bands that refuse to be categorized, which is true for the trio of vocalist and rhythm guitarist Dan Lotti, lead guitarist Mike Sivilli and drummer, percussionist and upright bassist Steven Sandifer of Dangermuffin based out of Charleston, South Carolina. They incorporate elements of folk, bluegrass, rock and reggae while providing a one-of-a-kind listening experience. People will get to witness this for themselves when they roll through The Warehouse on July 21 with the show starting at 8 p.m.
Sandifer and I talked ahead of the gig about how he joined up with Lotti and Sivilli, the band’s songwriting process, having a few local connections around the region and putting the finishing touches on a new album.
RD: Before joining up with Dangermuffin in 2008, what was going on with you musically while living in Charleston? Were you just doing a lot of session work and fill-in gigs or were you in other bands playing around the city?
SS: It was a little bit of both. I had recently moved back to Charleston from Nashville where I spent about six years and I was touring with a guy named Drew Emmitt who is one of the two lead singers for Leftover Salmon, which is an awesome band. That particular tour was sort of winding down and that’s right when I met Dan and Mike in Dangermuffin, so I was doing some freelancing while on drums along with touring with Drew and his band.
RD: Very cool. The band’s music is anchored by Dan’s songwriting, so when it comes to rehearsing and the whole process of you and Mike being brought into the fold, how would you describe adding your own personal touches to whatever song Dan has been working on?
SS: Personally, there was another drummer before me so when I came in they fortunately were letting me bring my own sound to the songs that had already been written. Very soon after that, we started writing together so I was able to insert my voice into the band very quickly while we were writing new material. I would say most of what we play live these days is from when I joined the band and everything afterwards.
RD: Both you and Dan have referred to Dangermuffin’s blend of musical styles as an “American Experience”. Going along with this phrase, do you consider the band’s sound to be more flexible and malleable than your contemporaries?
SS: I don’t know if I’ll say more so, it’s just that we are lovers of all sorts of different grooves and different styles. I think with a lot of bands, it’s not that they can’t do that sort of thing but I think a lot of times in the music industry it’s easier if you stick to one thing in terms of marketing and identity. When it comes to that, it’s probably easier to be a rock band, a blues band or a punk band and for us we didn’t want to compromise with doing all of these different things that we like to do. We like to incorporate elements of bluegrass, elements of blues, elements of coastal island music, elements of rock & roll and all sorts of things. That’s just where our brand got its voice, I don’t want to say that we do things more so than others, it’s just kind of been our path of including all these different things that we grew up with.
We all grew up listening to Bob Marley, Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead, Bill Monroe and all these great musicians. When you turn on the radio, there’s all different types of music to tune into and we just love to incorporate all those sorts of things into our master bag of tricks.
RD: I totally get that. Being from the southeastern United States, what are your thoughts on playing the New England region?
SS: Ahh man, I’m super excited. We used to play in the Northeast a lot more and then obviously with COVID it sort of put a wrench in so many things. We got some friends that we’ve made over the years from playing around there who we can’t wait to see. We love the area, it’s very progressive and there’s so much going on. It’s not that the South doesn’t have that, Charleston is a progressive town with a lot of music happening, but it’s great to get to different parts of the country where different things are taking place. There’s so much great music up in that area, it’ll be great to catch up with some old friends while hopefully getting to meet some new people.
It’s actually going to be our first time playing at The Warehouse. We’ve played many times in the StageOne black box theatre there which is awesome and very intimate, but we decided that we wanted to have more of the venue experience where we can let loose a little bit more. We’re really excited about playing that room because it’ll be our first time.
RD: That’s fantastic. It’s been a few years since Dangermuffin released their most recent album Heritage back in 2017. Are there any plans for a new record to come out in the near future?
SS: Yes, so a few weeks ago we just finished recording at a very cool studio called Echo Mountain in Asheville, North Carolina. We did all the tracking there, we still have some post-production work to do on it and it takes a while to get all our ducks in a row in order to release an album. It’s probably going to be a springtime release and we’re hoping to release a single or two in the fall, so there’s new music on the way that we’re super excited about. We’ve been in the trenches getting at it while putting the tunes all together.
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