If you happen to be in New York City, check out an electronic leaning band called Princess Goes To The Butterfly Museum. You never know what venue they will be playing at. They released their first single along with the video, “Ketamine,” in December. They are releasing their second single on February 7 called “Come Talk to Me.”
The band consists of three members who have major musical credentials. Collectively they have created a fresh take on rock music that is bound to have a hypnotic effect on the listener whether one experiences their recorded music or in live performance.
Michael C. Hall is the lead singer and he has gained international fame for his roles in the television series Dexter and Six Feet Under. Hall has also starred on Broadway in the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch. He had the privilege to collaborate with David Bowie when he was selected to star in Lazarus on Broadway.
Drummer, Peter Yanowitz is a former member of The Wallflowers and Morningwood. He has collaborated with Natalie Merchant, Yoko Ono, Billy Bragg and Wilco.
Matt Katz-Bohan has been the recording and touring keyboardist for Blondie over the last ten years. He has also worked with Cyndi Lauper and Boy George.
Glide was able to catch the three members of the band to discuss their music, how the three friends merged as a band, and their future plans. Here is what we learned.
Matt, please tell me how the band got together.
Matt Katz-Bohen: We all did the Hedwig musical on Broadway. Peter and I did a US tour of the show. We started hanging out and talking about music and life. We bonded and when we got back to the city, we decided that we had to play music together. Peter had been hanging out with Mike (Michael C. Hall) and he checked out what we were doing with our music. Mike put some vocals on it and he blew us away. We decided, “Whatever this is, it’s happening.” I don’t know, how does that sound to you guys? Am I missing something? (Sounds of agreement in the background.)
Michael, who writes your music?
Michael C. Hall: We write the songs collectively. In some cases, there’s a song structure that I have melody and lyrics that blossoms into a more fully-fledged song. We don’t have any rules as far as how we write the songs. All of the songs are our originals.
Who wrote the script to the video for your first single “Ketamine?”
Laughing. That was David McNutt who directed the video. It was all him. He heard the song and this is what the song inspired him to write in terms of some sort of loose narrative. We liked it and told him to go for it. We definitely didn’t have that kind of Victorian horror movie in mind when we wrote it. We gave him free reign to do it.
It definitely had an American Horror Story flavor. Peter, you released the single in December. How is the single doing?
Peter Yanowitz: I think it was an odd choice for the first single. It’s a little slower and kind of weird but we wanted to put something out that would get attention. People really seem to like it when we do it live. It wasn’t a calculated release. It just seemed to evolve after David McNutt directed the video it became our first release. We have our next video lined up and our next single coming out very shortly. We have our third single lined up after that. We are dropping music with the hope that people get the picture and we will release a six-song EP in the spring. Each song has a different flavor. “Ketamine” was just a song that creped upon us and it felt like a good way to introduce ourselves.
The next single will be “Come Talk to Me” that is being released on February 7. It seems to be the opposite of “Ketamine” in that it seems to be more of a dance song.
MKB: That was a conscious decision to throw another curve ball out and say ‘you think you know what we are all about but we have this side too.’ We are a multifaceted band.
Michael, we are very familiar with your acting and characters from Dexter and Six Feet Under. I read some of your past interviews that deal with your acting career. What the interviews didn’t discuss was your singing. How and when did you start singing?
MCH: I’ve been singing since I was a kid. The first time I did any formal singing I did when I was young enough to be a soprano in a boys’ choir. I’ve been singing since I was very young. I did choral singing and in musical productions in high school and in college. I progressed to singing professionally in New York and on Broadway and elsewhere. I was in a band for about a minute when I was in college. Things never went that route. The acting is what I focused on and what developed. I’ve always done some singing and I did the Hedwig musical and that was the first time along with everything else that job included, it allowed me to front a rock band every night. I loved it. That led me to get a job in a David Bowie musical called Lazarus that Bowie was involved in putting together at the end of his life. It gave me a chance to collaborate with him. All roads, in hind sight, seemed to be leading me through the relationship with Matt and Peter and through the relationship that I was cultivating to singing that kind of music. It wasn’t anything that I consciously planned. It all kind of makes sense now. I’ve been singing my entire life.
You have this marvelous falsetto in “Come Talk to Me.” That is a difficult skill.
MCH: I don’t know maybe it’s because my first singing was singing as a first soprano and there is some sort of space or place in my voice that sort of held on to it even though my voice changed.
Matt, you’re doing a show in two days. Has the band done many live shows?
MKB: We’ve been playing around New York for a little while now. We’ve done about ten shows, but it’s definitely a growing energy. We can’t wait to expand outward. We are an ever-expanding universe.
What can we expect when we come to a Princess Goes To The Butterfly Museum show?
MKB: Our crowd is one of the most good-looking crowds you’ll ever see in rock and roll.
PY: We like to rock live. It’s a great place to get rid of your extra energy. We can also play quiet stuff.
Matt, you used to play with Blondie for instance. Is there any comparison to the band now?
MKB: I still do play with them and Debbie is a huge fan of ours. She comes to every show. They are really good friends and I’ve been playing with them for many years. I think every great show has the elements of transcendence where you feel like you are elevated from your daily existence. We rock out and we also want people to feel hopeful and feel renewed. There is a spiritual aspect to the shows. We aim for that transformation where people feel different from when they came in. I think that EDM definitely does that. We’re rock and roll guys but we love EDM and dance music. There is always that element of transcendence in a great live show. It puts you over the edge.
Peter, you’ve worked with the Wallflowers. Is there any part of the Wallflowers mirrored in Princess Goes?
PY: Absolutely none. When I was in The Wallflowers, all I wanted to do was be in Nirvana, but Jacob wanted to play music like The Band. I was like “Hey we should cover Nirvana stuff. Since my time in The Wallflowers and other groups, I’ve wanted to rock. The older I get, the more I want to rock. I want it to be loud. And playing the drums is so much fun. I like to hit them as hard as you can. There is so much shit going on in the world right now that riles me up. The drums are just a great way to get it out. We like to do it ‘all’ in this band. There’s nothing that correlates to The Wallflowers in this band other than I played drums for them. Now I play the drums for Princess.
Michael, where does the name Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum come from?
MCH: Matt could probably tell you the story in the first person, but Matt’s daughter at the age of four revealed to Matt that she wanted to be in a band called Princess Goes To The Butterfly Museum. Matt just stole it from her. We asked for her permission, of course. When we were trying to come up with a name for ourselves none of us could necessarily come up with a name that felt right. The rest is history.
MKB: We go by Princess Goes for short. We may even just say Princess. Like ‘come to the Princess show.’ My daughter loves the band. She is super into it. She is still into the Frozen 2 soundtrack, Frozen 2 and Moana are the biggies. She and I jam together. She’s learning piano now and having a lot of fun with it.
Michael, I can’t end this call without asking if there are any plans to follow up Dexter. Your fans have strongly encouraged me to ask you this.
Right! I will neither deny nor confirm the possibility of anything.
Does the band have a national tour on the horizon?
MKB: We planning to go to California, but nothing is firm yet. I shouldn’t really announce it yet. We will be doing a project out there.
I understand that your EP will be released in March. Is There a title for the EP.
MCH: It will be self-titled. It will be to get people to get used to the whole band name.
I usually ask my interviewees, to name three albums they could ONLY listen to in a year. Since there are three of you, I’m going to ask each one of you to name only one album that you would choose as your only album that you could listen to..
MCH: Wow! I’m going to say A Love Supreme. If I was going to listen to only one album for a year, it would be John Coltrane. I would pick that. There are so many nooks and crannies with that.
PY: I would say Nirvana’s Nevermind for sure.
MKB: I’ll blow you away with my answer. Get ready. Argentinian pianist Martha Ardurich. She’s one of the best piano players alive. The album would have to be The Complete Works of Frederic Chopin. It’s kind of a cheat because it probably a three-album set.
It is difficult for a new band to cross into the mainstream of rock music market even when you have the name recognition of a famous actor like Michael C. Hall. The band needs to utilize that name recognition to the max. Hall has the advantage of being mentored by David Bowie prior to his passing. Very few lead singers can have a credential of that caliber. His vocal chops are extraordinary.
The members of the band have the advantage of being able to blend their creative forces as a singular entity to produce fresh new music. They have the time now to continue creating. This is a band to watch as their music flourishes. Catch the Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum EP in March. We can’t wait to see the music video for their next single “Come Talk to Me.”