The Motet is looking toward its future, and its future is bright.
With a well-knit lineup, a group-defining album and growing momentum, this Colorado improvisational funk band is headed to Crystal Bay Casino Saturday, Feb. 7, appearing with solo superstar Keller Williams.
“This is our second little run with him,” frontman Jans Ingber said of Williams. “He’s our bro from a long, long time back. Dave Watts our drummer played on his, I think either first or second record, the one called ‘Breathe.’”
Founded by Watts in 1998 in Boulder, Colo., the Motet went through something of a rotating cast of musicians and musical styles for around 10 years, before settling on the current lineup.
“There have just been many incarnations of the band. It used to be a very different thing,” Ingber said. “People came and went, the band kind of cruised along, you know, soldiered on. The music changed all through to fit the personnel that were there. But over the last five years we’ve had the same personnel and over the last two years we’ve had the same collaborative direction in the music.”
In addition to Watts and Ingber, the Motet is Joey Porter (keys), Garrett Sayers (bass), Ryan Jalbert (guitar), Gabe Mervine (trumpet) and Matt Pitts (tenor sax).
With the settling of the lineup, the group also solidified its sound.
“What we found was that after playing all these different musical styles, what we could do, and do well, and that people responded to, was to play funky dance music for the people,” Ingber said. “Really it’s just kind of a lot of funk and electro-music from the mid-70s to the later 70s, that electro-funk; synthesizers and hard-driving, back-beat funk.”
The group’s gelling process came to true fruition with the release of 2014’s “The Motet,” self-titled in reflection of the band realizing its goals and potential.
“We put out a new record, that was a new beginning for us, with a dedicated lineup and a new direction musically,” Ingber said. “A completely collaboratively written record. With that came new management and new booking agents and just much greater success. It was definitely our biggest year, last year. Now, this next year is poised to almost double what we did last year.”
The writing of the album also reflected the Motet’s cohesiveness in its settled state. For the first time, the band set aside days on end for extended group writing sessions.
“The idea was we would all bring song ideas, but the songs had to be only partially finished,” Ingber said. “So that we could then finish them altogether and people could kind of write their parts and their melodies. With the rhythm section, the horns came in and wrote the horn lines and the vocalists with the lyrics. What we came out with, every tune, we all had written together.”
Along with the album’s release, highlights of 2014 for the group included Summer Camp Festival in the Midwest, a sold out New Year’s Eve party at Portland’s Crystal Ballroom, and a show in support of Umphrey’s McGee at Red Rocks in Colorado.
“That was great,” Ingber said of the appearance on home turf. “Being from Colorado, playing in one of the great venues in the world, it just happens to be right there.”
In 2015, the Motet is already well on its way in building on recent success.
“We have a great bunch of festivals all lined up for the summer, we’re really excited for this festival season,” Ingber said. “Some of them are announced, some of them aren’t announced, but our booking agent has been kicking butt for us, and we just have really great opportunities in front of us.”
Fresh off of Jamcruise in January, the Motet embarked on the run with Williams of California and Nevada. The tour’s managers recorded the dual act’s live shows at San Diego and Las Vegas, Ingber said, optimistic about the material becoming available for fans at some point.
The Motet is also working on a follow-up to 2014’s album, currently in the writing process. The group will work with a producer for the first time; while not at liberty to reveal the producer’s identity, Ingber said that the band was “very excited.”
For the next album, the band is working at honing its songwriting, while keeping the focus on funky roots.
“There are some similarities to the last record, but there are new directions,” Ingber said. “It’s really going to be about crafting songs. More changes, more surprises in the songwriting. And then just the same care going into those classic analog tones.”
Keller Williams and the MotetWhen: 9 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 7
Where: Crown Room, Crystal Bay Casino
Tickets: $25 in advance, $30 day of the show
ABOUT Nick McCabe
Nick McCabe is a musician, photographer and writer from Reno. He is the editor of the music website Front Row Photo. He plays in a seven-piece band, Apothic.
Heavy snow will impact mountain travel this weekend. Snow will begin midday tomorrow with the majority of this snow falling on Sunday. Let's take a look at the forecast for tomorrow - Monday, starting with I-80 & Hwy 50 where near-whiteout conditions are likely on Sunday. #CAwx