The Motet is over ten years in the making. They came to make us dance, and dance we did. For over a decade now, people have been getting funky with this band of incredible musicians. From Music Festivals to sold out shows in venues across the country, The Motet has continuously made bodies move. I sat down with Dave Watts, Ryan Jalbert, Garrett Sayers, Joey Porter, Gabe Mervine, Jans Ingber, and Matt Pitts, A.K.A. “The Motet” in the backstage room at Nectar Lounge in Seattle before their set, rolled a couple joints, and asked them a few questions.
M.CC: So, really basic, guys: where does The Motet come from and how did the group start up?
DW: Front Range Colorado, that’s where we’re from. Denver, Boulder, our singer Jans lives in Oregon, Portland. I started the group in 1998, it was called The Dave Watts Motet, we changed the name to The Motet, and all these guys joined the band at different times.
M.CC: How do you get together to rehearse?
DW: For the most part we live close so getting together is easy. Jans lives in Oregon, so a lot of times we’ll rehearse without him.
M.CC: When you first started The Motet, what was your vision? What did you want to do with it? What did you see it becoming? Did you want to do funk?
DW: Dance music was number one. Dance music, improvisation, and stylistic across the board.
M.CC: Well it seems like you’ve done what you wanted to do as far as that’s concerned.
DW: Yeah! I mean that’s been the consistent thread. Fine dance music, improvising, and then just trying to keep things fresh
M.CC: How did funk is dead come about. Who’s the Deadhead? Are you guys all deadheads?
DW: It came about because I was sitting in my hot tub, thinking abut what to do for Halloween, and I used to see this group called Jazz is dead, and I thought “that’s pretty cool, well do funk is dead”. And that’s the only way that playing grateful dead music would be palpable.
M.CC: so other than that you’re not into the grateful dead?
M.CC: are you into the grateful dead? (To Garrett)
GS: Yes. I do like the grateful dead for a very long time; they kind of opened my eyes to a lot of new ways of playing music.
M.CC: so does Garrett pick the dead tunes?
Everyone: No we all picked them together
RJ: I am a fan of the grateful dead, and I feel like we kind of planted a seed in Dave’s head, before…
M.CC: Dead heads will do that
RJ: Its true. we cover an artist for Halloween every year, this year were switching it up a little bit, and were always looking for something epic. Like, an epic band to cover. We’ve done a lot of great bands before so The Dead was a great choice. We did a lot of work to switch up the arrangements and the feel.
M.CC: As far as festivals, you guys play a variety like Bear Creek at Suwannee in Florida, Camp Barefoot in the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia, and Arise at Sunrise Ranch Loveland in Colorado. These festival type scenes tend to mix in with a drug scene. I don’t know if you guys are aware of that.
DW: Drugs? at Motet shows?
GS: Yes we are aware of that, absolutely.
M.CC: How do you feel about it? Is that something that you cater to?
GS: We definitely promote responsibility. Everyone needs to be responsible for themselves and take care of the people around them. To us, that’s what the big part of the concert vibe is about. It becomes a collective effort and everyone’s in it together, you know what I mean?
DW: I think that if people find a way to lose themselves in music, that’s good. If that’s what it takes to get yourself into music. It’s a positive thing. Personally, we just like to get trippy and that’s still music. I mean if you’re tripping out you can trip out from water dripping from the ceiling.
RJ: That was crazy that one night.
GS: We love that aspect of music. One of the things that connect a lot of music I like is psychedelia and I think it’s true a lot of us.
M.CC: So the band has several smokers, do you guys have any comments on that?
GS: Well, it’s safer than alcohol, and alcohol is legal. So my stance is that it should be legal. And we’re working on it.
M.CC: Who is the biggest pothead of the group?
Everyone is bug-eyed looking around pointing fingers.
JP: It could be between me and Garrett.
Garrett: Alright, smoke off right now.
M.CC: Do you guys have any favorite Strains?
JP: I Like Sativas
M.CC: Do you get into the concentrates? Are you guys dabbing?
JP: Yeah, I like Wax. I like to do dabs of wax
DW: A dab’ll do
JP: Dabernacle Choir!!!
GS: No I actually like the flowers I tend to stay away from the concentrates.
M.CC: Alright guys, moving back to your music: What does it take to make music that forces bodies to move? What does it take to make people dance?
DW: Boom, Pop, Boom, Boom, Pop
RJ: You know it definitely takes a good tempo that that person likes and a good beat. But then there are a lot of intangible elements I think. It takes some good energy from the band.
DW: Ask Jans!!
RJ: Yeah Jans has a good answer to that.
JL: I do? Ok. What makes people dance, I mean obviously People dance to all different things. At our shows? It’s Energy, the fact that we’ve been playing together for a long time. Nasty bass, great Beats, syncopation. That makes funky music. That’s What We do. We find Pockets. Everyone finds parts, Fills them with spaces, we got melody, we got groove, and then we have synergy because we’ve been playing together for a long time. And when it’s poppin’ and we hit it, then all people seem to just dance. I don’t know what makes them do it but gosh darn, they’re dancing!
RJ: Well a lot of people just come to dance too, its like you go to hear a certain show and you have an intent.
JP: Also We just don’t have a lot of ballads or slow jams, so…
M.CC: Well I guess my last basic question for you guys is, what are you guys listening to right now? Who are your buddies on tour? Who do you listen to in your car, headphones, etc.? Who do you go see live? What’s The Motet into these days?
RJ: I’ve listened to the new Jay-Z album every day for the last five days
GM: And there’s guys we see on tour all the time, as a part of a horn section I love pay attention to horn sections. Like New Mastersounds or Lettus. They’re crazy to listen to and also very inspiring because a lot of he stuff we listen to is from ten, twenty, thirty years ago and its really cool to hear people that are into that same shit making music now and interpreting it their own way.
M.CC: You Guys buddies with Dom from Big Gigantic?
GM: Oh yeah. Actually around the time I joined The Motet, he was still in the group.
DW: And it’s all the same. We’re all trying to learn. We’re all learning from shit weather its from 20, 30 years ago or now.
M.CC: Anyone else? What you’re listening to?
RJ: The new John Brown’s Body Album, Kings and Queens that one’s killer
JP: We all like the Snarky Puppies
GS: Yeah I like some Snarky
DW: Our road buddies are Dumpstaphunk! We love those guys
M.CC: Alright guys, any final Words for the readers and your fans?
GS: Yeah. The Motet loves you