Watts holds still while world around him spins
Dave Watts has been playing music in Steamboat since the days of the Inferno and the Heavenly Daze, when Keller Williams was just starting to play at Mocha Molly’s.
“A lot has changed since then,” Watts said. For all those years, Watts has sat behind the drums as one pillar in an ever-changing lineup of bands and band members. He was with a band called Skin and a band called Chakra and, of course, the band that has developed the following of a local band because they play here so much — The Motet.
As the bandleader of The Motet, Watts is a kind of puppet master holding the strings like reigns in an attempt to keep the sound of the band consistent even as the members are always changing.
“That’s something I realized early on,” Watts said. “I had to keep that sound consistent even as we added new musicians. Adding those players always makes things interesting and different, but it’s hard to find a good balance. The secret lies in consistent songwriting.”
The Motet released an upbeat instrumental album, “Music for Life,” this summer with a few new members and a few Motet veterans. The lineup of the band has changed since the album was recorded in April.
The album is held together with some African inspired Latin rhythms and a message, despite its lack of lyrics.
“We related all the song titles to images of what’s going on right now,” Watts said. “I wanted to write music that’s going to transcend the chaos. To me, that’s what music is about.”
Having a drummer lead the band is rare, but not completely unheard of. Musicians like Dave Watts are more common in jazz and bebop circles — Art Blakey, Gerry Hemingway and Elvin Jones, for example.
“Leading the band as a drummer is not the easiest task,” Watts said. “I don’t play melodies, but I write all the music, and I’m in depth about the way I do it. I write charts for everyone. I write the guitar and bass lines so when new guys come in, we have a base for them to go off of. We improvised from there.”
Since The Motet played in Steamboat this summer, the group added a couple of new players and a few tunes. The group recently did an all Prince show for Halloween.
“The element of funk is seeping into our music,” Watts said.
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Editor’s note: The story was updated at 8:33 p.m.