The future of funk is clear on The Motet’s new self-released studio album, Totem, which hits streets July 8, 2016. The 12 tracks on Totem, all originals, cover a lot of ground stylistically while never losing sight of the groove. Produced by Lettuce and Soulive guitarist Eric Krasno, Totem was written collectively by the seven members of the band. Each song is steeped in The Motet’s signature style that slaps you in the face with sounds that are fresh and unique.
The recent addition of singer Lyle Divinsky, who joined the band in early 2016, fans the flames of this already hot band. His sinfully soulful voice and rich lyrics are powerfully prevalent throughout Totem. “There was a month and a half between the time I joined the band and when we went into the studio,” explains Divinsky. “I wound up writing the lyrics and melodies to four songs, and re-wrote the lyrics to two. It gave me and the band an opportunity to really connect musically. We’re deeply proud of this album and it’s very exciting to have this new material to push out as we begin this next phase of The Motet’s journey.”
The brilliance of The Motet is that they do not mimic bands of the past, but rather create new, authentic sounds in a language from the past. One might explain the difference like the process of writing a poem in Old English or Aramaic: first, you have to learn the language by digging into the past, then you can express yourself in the present – and say anything you want – using that language.
No matter how you choose to express funk, you can’t fake it – and you sure as hell can’t play it – if you don’t know where to find it.
Just how did The Motet find the funk? Simply put, they dissected it. “We have put together funk-themed Halloween shows for the past fifteen years, where we pay tribute to a particular artist or play a ‘Mixtape’ set of music culled from a certain year,” shares Dave Watts.
Past Halloween cover sets have included tributes to Herbie Hancock, Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Parliament-Funkadelic and many others. Recent tribute shows have celebrated a particular year in music, with ‘Mixtape’ sets from 1975, 1977, and 1980. “Preparing for these shows are intense, and we take it very seriously. Each year it gives us an incredible opportunity to not just learn, but to understand, the art of funk – both as individual players and as a band.” These shows, which have become a beloved live music tradition and sell out each year, have also offered a unique (and rowdy) opportunity for the band’s fans to join them in their ongoing exploration of creative, live dance music.
The Motet began in 1998 in Denver, Colorado, where the band’s then-rotating cast of musicians amassed an enthusiastic and loyal throng of hometown fans. The Motet took their infectious dance parties on the road about three years ago, and their national fan base has been growing exponentially ever since. Today their shows sell out from coast to coast at such venues as Red Rock’s Amphitheatre, Brooklyn Bowl, Chicago’s Park West, The Independent in San Francisco, Tipitina’s in New Orleans, Portland’s Crystal Ballroom, and Variety Playhouse in Atlanta. A favorite along the festival circuit, The Motet has performed at Electric Forest, Summer Camp, All Good Music Festival, High Sierra Music Festival, Bonnoroo, Peach Fest and many others.
The Motet are Lyle Divinsky (vocals), Dave Watts (drums), Joey Porter (keyboards), Garrett Sayers (bass), Ryan Jalbert (guitar), Gabriel Mervine (trumpet), and Drew Sayers (saxophone).