The Local 913: Dan Petrich
Dan Petrich is an English teacher and he finds that his educational background very often emerges in the foreground of his music. "It seems to seep into everything I do with music," he says, "In terms of the imagery, in terms of subtle allusions. I can’t avoid it." Petrich even had a couple of his former students sing on the new album – Of Devils, Gods and Men.
The record begins with a bit of found sound – a recording of his children singing "Ring Around the Rosie." Petrich says of the recording, "I thought at the time, ‘That’s very morbid, but very interesting,’ and so I grabbed my phone and I recorded it. Years later I thought, ‘This is the way to open the album.’" Other field recordings found on the album include cicadas chirping in Mt. Lebanon and the famous carousel at Kennywood. As for the album’s theme – it wasn’t immediately apparent, says Petrich, "These songs sort of emerged over a couple of years but then I started to see these patterns and then in one of the songs in particular was this refrain of “Devils, Gods, and Men,” and I thought, ‘That’s really what I’m exploring here - this vast human experience where we’re at our worst, we’re at our best, and we’re always human.'"
There’s certainly some darkness to be found within Devils Gods and Men, but there’s also hope – particularly on “Hey There, Sparrow” – a song inspired by a childhood memory. Petrich recalls visiting the pool with his family as child and taking notice of the sparrows jumping around eating discarded popcorn. "Over the years," he says, "I started to think about it and they just seemed – if birds can be this – tremendously optimistic and hopeful and almost innocent. I thought, as counterbalance to a lot of the darkness on the album, that became almost the symbol of hope; that sense of optimism and innocence in the face of possible destruction."
Check out Of Devils, Gods, and Men:
Photo by Brad Kavo