In 1929, off the coast of Oregon, Saint Gabriel laid waste to the S.S. Widow’s Bane. As the boat sank languidly beneath a mournful cloud of ravens, members of the Widow’s Bane house band could be seen riding their respective instruments like rafts toward the shore. Aside from a few soggy musicians and a water-logged accordion, all that remained of that ill-fated steam ship was her name. So the band took it.
In 2008, the Widow’s Bane (the band, not the ship) resurfaced in Boulder, Colorado. After a successful West Coast tour, the group was able to fund its first album in over 80 years. A self-titled album was recorded in an abandoned bookstore on Pearl Street; it was there that the Widow’s Bane made its first impression upon Boulder, performing impromptu experiments of mortal longing in the store-front window.
Its sound was unique to say the least. After sailing the globe for nearly three centuries, the Widow’s Bane had collected musical influences (and band members) from every port town, bar room, and swampy Bayou the world over. The result was a melting pot of sea shanties, klezmer, Dixie Land jazz and New World rock n’ roll. Upon hearing the Widow’s Bane’s first album, Denver Westword raved, “Macabre, literate and shamelessly theatrical, there's real vision behind the Widow’s Bane’s death-folk howl. Not to mention courage — a rare commodity lately in the local scene.”
Crowds amassed, and before long the Widow’s Bane was opening for the likes of Devotchka in front of 10,000 fans.
The band’s newly acquired fame afforded it interest from myriad eccentric performers, talented producers, and up-and-coming bands hoping that a little Widow’s Bane charm might rub off. Indeed, the Lumineers experienced this first hand in 2012, when they borrowed The Widow’s Bane’s bass player, Bat Catacombs (aka Ben Wahamaki), on a short two-week tour to South by Southwest festival in Austin, TX. Needless to say, the Lumineers were on Conan O’Brien’s show two weeks later and have yet to return said borrowed bass player.
Nonetheless, the Widow’s Bane has never been a band to dwell upon the past (save for how they dress, speak, and write music). So, without missing a beat, it acquired a new undead bass player, scored a sweet studio and released a second full-length album. In order to promote the new album, the Widow’s Bane (with the financial support of adoring fans via indiegogo), produced a music video for the album’s title track, “Don’t Be Afraid, It’s Only Death.” In addition to threatening virality on the internet, the video also won the band a first-place prize for Best Music Video at the 2013 Mile High Horror Film Festival.
Scene Magazine had this to say about the band’s second effort, “Don’t Be Afraid, It’s Only Death is a grotesquely attractive release, something that is so seemingly dark, yet quite impossible not to dance to. The album appears to be an experiment of epic originality: What would happen if Tom Waits were to front Gogol Bordello during the zombie apocalypse?” We’ll let Scene speculate that outcome. The fact is, Tom Waits and Gogol Bordello have been ripping the Widow’s Bane off for years, and as for a zombie apocalypse? Nonsense! It will be no less than an all-out party if the Widow’s Bane has anything to say about it.