When the opportunity presented itself to interview the leader of The Widow’s Bane, it seemed a little… surreal. Here was the leader of a Zombie-Death-Polka band looking to connect with the living. We’re talking about a flesh-eating, zombie collective, that packs in the crowds despite being, well, a Zombie-Death-Polka band. And being dead.
It’s Halloween, after all, so who’s going to turn down an interview with Mortimer Leech, the Head Undead of the band? He’s one of those fiendish people you’ve seen in The Walking Dead… nothing to fear here.
“Don’t be afraid, it’s only death”, Leech warns on the 2013 album of the same name.
This is already off to a good start.
We meet at the Boulder Public Library on an overcast Monday morning, with Boulder Creek flowing under us. In walks Leech in full person, a tall everyman. When Leech suggested meeting at the library, a confession came over me. Better to meet in public, right?
In he walks – somewhat intimidating, with an intoxicating gaze. He’s in a disheveled mood. Possibly a long night wandering alone through the streets? Or sitting alone at a bar, having long since scared everyone away with his shadowy past?
“We’ve all got to do different things to exercise our demons or we just become demons,” Leech says in a stoic voice.
For Leech, being alive is torturous, so lost has he been after being murdered by his wife three hundred years ago.
Not long after being murdered, to get out of the Hell he was in, he joined The Widow’s Bane with Rutherford Belleview, Abraham Lynch, Bastien O’Leary, James Cricket and Norman Hardgrove.
Shadows circle around him like a black cat, and Leech has plenty of shadows in this his third, perhaps fourth, afterlife thus far.
And as a band, they kind of kill – a mystifying brew of Cajun, Klezmer, and Colorado.
“The Widow’s Bane is the music of the gypsies and the gypsies have always been the outcast. They’re the original blues,” Leech explains.
Since being murdered, Leech has been banished to dingy rooms after shows, disassociated from the rest of the world, hedonistic he may be.
“It’s the stuff that we keep hidden that will kill us,” Leech says, grinning, somewhat possessed by the idea.
Like most musicians, music is a release, and for Leech, this is no exception. It’s all he’s got, which is why he takes no responsibility for what happens at shows.
Music is an addiction. It’s what sustains him. It’s what allows him to confront the most demonic in himself.
If you go to see The Widow’s Bane on Halloween at Washington’s, be ready. It’s crude music, taking you to some kind of abyss before The Bane let you back into that gentle night.
For just a few nights a year, Leech makes this music as a sort of public service, so we can vent and dance and get it out of our system.
But Leech lives with it for eternity.
“Ever since screaming into a mic once a week, I’ve been fascinated by how people maintain their sanity without doing that,” he said.
We finish talking, usher out, and go strolling through a cemetery. Mortimer Leech puts some of his demons to rest, wordless and free.
Tickets to The Widow’s Bane show with Whippoorwill October 31 at Washington’s can be found here.