Dave Watts, founder and bandleader of one of the most innovative and influential afrobeat bands since Fela Kuti, The Motet, is constantly adapting. Since the band’s conception in 1998, the band has introduced a variety of new influences while maintaining their roots in afrobeat and dance music. Gearing up for some more Funk is Dead shows, what originally started as a Halloween show, has been the basis for a variety of shows since then. Before heading out on the road for a handful of Funk is Dead shows and their first international show in Costa Rica, I had a chance to speak with this legendary drummer about the past, present, and future of The Motet.Can you give a brief history of the band and how you guys came together?
I started The Motet in 1998. We have been through many different line-ups and musical changes since then, but have always maintained a focus on improvisation and dance music. With so many great players out here in the front range of Colorado we are almost more of a community than a band.
Who are your greatest influences?
All of the groups we have paid tribute to for our Halloween shows. To name a few: Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, Jamiroquai, Prince, Michael Jackson, Tower of Power, Fela Kuti, Sly and the Family Stone.
How does your songwriting process work?
Usually I will put together charts with parts written out but also some space to allow for the guys to come up with their own parts as well. I usually leave some “open space” to give some room for group improvisation as well. For our next album we are planning on doing some more group collaboration in the song writing process.
What kind of music is on in the tour bus?
Everything from jazz to indie to electronic to 70′s funk.
Growing up, was there a lot of music on in the house? If so, what genre? What effect did that have on the music you play today?
Not really. Not having a very musical family forced me to try to find my own sound and influences. Back then, buying a record was a big deal because music was a lot harder and more expensive to get. When I was a kid, If you bought a record you’d listen to over and over again and really absorb every note.
What is your favorite festival to play?
What was the impetus behind touring your “Funk is Dead” shows?
People really love this music! We have had so much fun presenting a different take on the Grateful Dead’s songs and the fans have had such an overwhelmingly positive response to it that we felt the need to bring it to venues all over the country. Every show has sold out so far so that really says something about the effect of this show.
Where do you see the music industry going in the next 5 years? 10 years?
More and more the focus will be on live music. Paying for recorded music will be a thing of the past. Subscription streaming and licensing will be how the industry makes its money.
In 10 years, where do you see the band?
Doing what we have always done, finding new and different creative ways for us to express ourselves. As recording music becomes easier and cheaper, I can also see us making more albums more often.