Interview by Parisa Eshrati
Ahead of their set at the 11th annual Gem and Jam Festival, T&E did a quick email interview with founding member and drummer of The Motet, Dave Watts. We discussed the lineup changes throughout the years, overcoming hurdles while self-producing their latest album, and more.
In the early years, a few Motet members traveled to Cuba to study bata drums and Santeria, which ended up really influencing the sound of the first two albums. Were there any travels that specifically influenced the sound or instrumentation of the latest release, TOTEM?
Our travels around the country playing shows at festivals with our peers such as Snarky Puppy, Lettuce, John Brown’s Body, and Nth Power (just to name a few) has had much more of an influence on us lately than the world music sound we used to explore back in the early 2000s.
TOTEM was the first fully co-written and self-produced album since the self-titled record. Were there any aspects of recording this way that were easier the second time around? What were some hurdles that were unique to this release, and how did you overcome them?
Actually no, this record was harder to make in every aspect! The biggest hurdle was the fact that we finished 80% of the record, but we had no vocal tracks. Fortunately for us, our new singer Lyle Divinsky swooped in and saved the day by writing and recording all of the perfect vocal parts, as if he had been a part of the writing process from day one!
This band has been ever-evolving since its inception, inviting new members and collaborations with almost every release. What do you think has been the consistent tying thread of the group throughout all these changes?
Flexibility and open mindedness. We have always tried to work with the strengths of the group as it stands in each moment, not trying to rehash a formula that worked in some previous incarnation.
It seems that Lyle was an instant fit for the group and y’all knew right away that he would be your guy. How do you feel that his voice and new perspective has influenced the overall dynamic of the group?
He is the most capable singer we have ever worked with and it’s given us fresh inspiration to write, record and tour harder than we ever have before. We now have the solid faith that we can be as prolific as any band who’s had an influence on us.
Your Halloween shows are dedicated to covering an artist or band, and lately the shows have been covers of particular decades. If you had to do covers of the 2000s, which artists or songs would you focus on?
We actually just cover a certain year, not a decade. So far we’ve hit 1975, 1977, 1979 and 1980. Not sure that we’ll ever make to to the 2000s, but if we do we might end up covering ourselves!
Who are you looking forward to seeing at Gem and Jam?
We love Jaw Gems!