Motet City Soundtrack
Motet drummer and principal composer Dave Watts might be among the most studied timekeepers on the planet. Given to using terms like "African diaspora" when describing his rhythmic influences, Watts isn't simply smacking the cans in standard time, as evidenced by his musical output. Drawing upon a lifelong passion for the music of Brazil, Cuba and the Dark Continent, and confounding expectations by occasionally covering artists such as Prince, Michael Jackson and now Madonna, Watts and his Boulder-based group walk the unlikely line between jam, pop and world fusion. In anticipation of his band's CD-release party this Friday, Watts weighs in on the new record and living in Colorado.
Westword: So what's the latest with the Motet?
Dave Watts: Well, for starters, we were the first band to play at Bonnaroo this year, and 7,000 people turned up to see us jam on the little side stage where we played. It was amazing; there was this growing crowd there that was chomping at the bit.
Do you find that generally you draw more of a crowd in Colorado than on the road?
We have a good audience here, for sure, but we find fans everywhere we go. In fact, we have fans in places including Homer, Alaska. We found a dedicated crowd there, if you can believe it, so we're not just centralized to our home market.
Are you from Colorado?
No, I moved here from Boston in '94.
Are you happy you made that move?
Yeah. There has always been a great music community out here. On the East Coast, it's more of a rat race. Here it's more relaxed; people just want to play. You can go out and play almost any night of the week here, or you can just sit in with your friends and jam. I can't imagine living anywhere else. We travel a lot, and we're always psyched to come back.
You're pretty much an instrumental group, right? No vocals?
Yeah, straight-up instrumental. We do special shows now and then where we'll take on a piece of work like Thriller, by Michael Jackson. In that case, we bring in a guest vocalist. You don't want to do instrumental pop tunes all night, or it gets to sounding like elevator music.
Do you have plans for more of that kind of thing, and if so, why do you do it?
This year we're going to do some Madonna music. None of us are huge Madonna fans, but the challenge is to take music that we aren't especially inspired by and make it inspiring -- which forces us to expand our horizons and to mix worlds.
Does your new disc, Instrumental Dissent, break any new ground for you and the band?
Indeed it does. We ventured into the electronic realm for this release. It's mind-blowing. I've taken my traditional influences and mixed them with slower ambient stuff like trancy vibes and down-tempos. In a live setting, people like high energy, but when they're listening to us in other environments, they like to hear a variety of grooves, including some chilled-out stuff. The electronic thing has given us a bigger window. We're all about mixing things up, so this is just another extension of our approach to music in general. Like I said, we enjoy mixing worlds, and this new release is a good example of that.
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