Eight years after playing their first gigs at Surf Bar, local jam band Dangermuffin is still influenced by Folly Beach. In fact, sea references are sprinkled throughout their catalog, especially in the trio’s new record Songs for the Universe. “Most of the inspiration comes from the ocean, which is what Dangermuffin has always been about — drawing on those ocean breezes and really connecting with those natural energies,” frontman Dan Lotti says. But this album, the band’s fifth one to date, differs from its predecessors with one technical, yet very spiritual aspect — frequencies.
“One of the interesting ways that we recorded this is that we used these different tunings, different sort of frequencies,” Lotti explains “It’s kind of geeky to talk about, but we really like it. You would tune your A-note to 432 Hz instead of the standard 440, and what that does is it creates this different feeling about the music. These frequencies and these notes are played the way that we see it, and they have a natural healing effect with the human body. So when people are listening to these songs, some of them are these particular keys and frequencies and signatures that really resonate with the human body and can actually heal people. So that’s what we’re hoping to build upon, so that people can hear this music and can feel like they’re healed and relaxed — whatever it can do to help folks.”
Lotti heard about frequency therapy when someone told him about the book Healing with Sound, which he says helped a friend rid himself of obesity and illness. Curiosity led Lotti to dig further, and that’s when he decided the therapy could apply to the band’s music. “That’s what the record is about,” Lotti says. “Everything is frequencies. We are frequencies. Everything vibrates, so you can really find those particular notes that can really help the world. And that’s the goal.”
Guitarist Mike Sivilli, drummer Steven Sandifer, and Lotti have all picked up good vibrations on tour, too. From meeting unforgettable folks while playing a festival last February in Costa Rica to finding the sweet spot in Oregon where the cascades meet the desert, the inspiring effect of their travel experiences found its way into Songs for the Universe. That goes for places in Appalachia, too, where Lotti is based for the time being while his wife studies herbal medicine. “Ancient Golden Star” is a song with Cherokee roots that came to Lotti in his bed.
“When a song gets into my head, I’m usually laying down about to go to sleep and a melody will pop into my head out of the blue, so I have trained myself to get out my iPhone and record my idea. And then with that song, this particular phrase ‘ancient golden star’ was there, and I couldn’t say anything else, even if I wanted to,” Lotti says.
After working through the song with the band, it began to sound Native American to the guys. Lotti says, “And then it resonated a little bit with a Cherokee creation myth that had to do with a lot of the tribes that, from what I understand, believe they come from different interstellar places. One of them is called Pleiades, a seven-star cluster.
“And so the song is my own interpretation of connecting with that heritage,” Lotti continues. “We’re not Native American, and I wouldn’t want to suggest that we are. But we are humans, you know what I mean? We all have a story. We all have a heritage that we have to connect with and understand so that we can understand ourselves.”
Another track off the 17-song record, “Cicada,” is a lighthearted tune about things that lurk in the dark, but it all goes back to frequencies in the end. “On Folly, every time it would rain, our backyard would flood out. Out of nowhere, there are 30 or 40 bullfrogs out there, and the bullfrogs are all croaking. And I think, ‘Where do they come from, and where are they when it’s not raining? Like, what’s going on?’ Lotti says. “And so there’s this fantastical idea through [the cicadas’] chirping, the bullfrogs croaking, that they’re traveling in a way we don’t really understand, like interdimensionally. So [the song is] a whimsical exploration of the possibility of using frequency to travel through the universe, so to speak.”
If you’re thinking to yourself, “Say what?’ right about now, don’t worry — you’re not alone. In “Cicada,” there’s actually a line in the song that asks, “What the hell does that mean?” because Lotti realizes Dangermuffin’s music can be a little enigmatic — even he doesn’t have all the answers. And Lotti doesn’t necessarily want listeners concentrating on all the deep details. “So much of the record can be taken for face value and is really about relaxing,” he says. “If people want to dig more, there’s more. But if you just want to kick your feet up and chill, you can just do that, too.”
At the CD-release show, Dangermuffin will play both an acoustic and electric set.