Colorado’s The Motet bring new funk offerings to Belly Up
IF YOU GO …
What: An Evening with The Motet
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Friday, Jan. 11, 9:30 p.m.
How much $35-40/general admission; $55/reserved seats
Tickets: Belly Up Aspen; bellyupaspen.com
What: Meet the Motet, presented by Aspen Entrepreneurs
Where: Aspen Tap
When: Friday, Jan. 11, 7 p.m.
How much: Free
More info: Motet founding member Dave Watts and lead vocalist Lule Divinsky wii duscuss what it takes to start and succeed in professional music; aspenentrepreneurs.com
As The Motet prepares to release its ninth studio album, the Colorado funk heroes are road-testing the new material in Aspen.
The band’s “Death Or Devotion” is due out Jan. 25. They’ll headline Belly Up Aspen on Friday as they kick off a national tour in support of the record.
It’s the first Motet album that singer Lyle Divisnky has been a part of from start to finish. Divinsky joined the band three years ago, trying out for lead singer, in part, by writing vocal parts around already-recorded instrumentals for The Motet’s 2016 album “Totem.”
“It was my audition process in a sense,” Divinsky said in a recent phone interview from home in Denver.
On “Death Or Devotion,” Divinsky sought to leave his mark on the beloved Colorado band’s signature funk sound by infusing his soulful vocals with some substantive lyrics.
The Motet built its fanbase on their boisterous live shows, feel-good up-tempo funk and 420-friendly party-starting songs. But Divisnky is also aiming to bring some of our national moment’s political urgency to the band’s new tracks, like the call to action “Whacha Gonna Bring,” which the get-out-the-vote organization HeadCount used as a campaign song in advance of the fall midterm elections.
“It was important to me to try to bring some more substance to the nonstop dance party,” he said. “You’re going to instantly be grooving and bobbing your head, but if you listen to the lyrics, you’ll find something there.”
The Motet’s songwriting process on “Death Or Devotion,” he said, usually started with bandleader, drummer and founding member Dave Watts and the rhythm section putting together demos and instrumental song sketches. They handed them over to Divinsky to write a song around. From there, he said, the horn section develops their parts on top. Then they all perfected the tracks together in a Littleton studio.
“It’s almost a conveyor belt kind of thing,” Divinsky said.
The personnel of The Motet has evolved often over the past two decades. Along with Divinsky, the saxophonist Drew Sayers and trumpeter Parris Fleming have joined the lineup in recent years. Funk is the common ground among the seven-piece outfit, Divinsky said, but they each bring diverse influences and perspectives from roots reggae to jazz, hip-hop, blues, soul and psych rock.
“As you look at The Motet, there are so many genres that the band has passed through and so many different musics we’ve jumped in on,” Divinsky said. “The only constant in this band is change.”
Divinsky said he’s been welcomed with open arms by Motet fans.
“It’s a huge testament to out fans — they’re so welcoming,” he said. “When there’s a new member, it’s like ‘Oh, we get a another member of the family and we get to hear the band in a different way.’ That’s been the impressive thing about the Motet community. It’s just nonstop creativity and openness.”
A Portland, Maine, native who had a solo career in New York before heading west to join The Motet, Divinsky has been floored by the vibrant Colorado live music scene, where every night feels like Saturday night.
“Coloradans want to get the most out of life,” he said. “There’s a search for adrenaline, good times, community togetherness. And I think that, of course, that’s going to shape us.”
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