The bass player is also a fashion designer

When Widowspeak hits xBk in Des Moines on May 12 as part of its current U.S. tour, bassist Willy Muse won’t be too far from home.

He’s currently based in the Ames area, even though he has been playing with the Brooklyn-based band for a decade. How he came to be a part of the band might as well be the subject of one of their psychedelic dream pop tunes.

Muse was a fan of the band, and while working in New York as a fashion designer for J. Crew after graduating from Iowa State University, they shot a music video in his converted loft living space. When the band began looking for a new bassist, a friend suggested Muse.

“Mind you,” Muse says, “he had never heard me actually play the bass. I certainly wouldn’t have called myself a bassist.” Muse, however, knew that everyone got along, and he loved their music. So he told them “absolutely,” and the next day he quit his job and bought a nicer bass. “It’s still the same bass I play today, after ten years,” he says.

At it’s core, Widowspeak is the creative project of singer-songwriters Robert Earl Thomas and Molly Hamilton.

The band released their self-titled debut album in 2011 to critical acclaim. The single “Harsh Realm” was featured in an episode of the television series American Horror Story. They’ve toured in nearly every state and nearly every country in Europe. On the current tour, the band has added a keyboard player, John Andrews, along with some backing vocals, and Muse believes it’s the best the band has ever sounded.

The current Widowspeak tour promoting the new album, “The Jacket,” began in Brooklyn, wound down the coast to Florida, then across the South. While in Florida, a couple of Muse’s bandmates tested positive for COVID-19, and the band had to cancel some dates. They quickly recovered and got back on the road, though, with everyone excited to play the songs from the new album. “It’s so good,” Muse enthuses.

When the Widowspeak tour finishes, Muse will return to Iowa and to his childhood home. Besides his work in the fashion industry, he’s currently the house DJ at a new drag club in Ames called Big Wigs. Muse goes by the name “DJ Big Willy” there, utilizing his experience with DJing at and producing drag shows in Brooklyn, but he’ll be ready for the next Widowspeak tour.

“We’re a little family, and it feels so good to get to travel around with your best friends and play music,” Muse says.

Widowspeak plays at xBk in Des Moines May 12. The show starts at 8 p.m.