Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum Q&A: Michael C. Hall, Peter Yanowitz & Matt Katz-Bohen Preview First U.S. Tour (Launching 3/20)

Adrian GarroCategories:FeaturesLatest News

Rock Cellar Magazine

After meeting on the set of a Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Michael C. Hall (of Dexter and Six Feet Under acting fame, as well as starring in David Bowie’s Lazarus), Peter Yanowitz (known for his work with the Wallflowers and Morningwood, among other projects) and Matt Katz-Bohen (a member of Blondie) eventually recognized they shared similar musical interests. Recording sessions furthered their chemistry together, and before long Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum was born.

An EP and a full-length album continued their musical journey and, now, they’re heading out on their first proper U.S. tour, supporting an EP and a 2021 full-length debut, Thanks For Coming.

Ahead of the tour, Hall, Yanowitz and Katz-Bohen phoned in to Rock Cellar for a chat about their history, their shared interests and the exciting tour ahead.

Rock Cellar: I think the timing of all of this is rather interesting because I discovered Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum around the beginning of the pandemic, right around the time, Michael, I that I started to watch Six Feet Under for the very first time. Just now, I recently finished Dexter: New Blood and heard about the tour. One of the episodes in that show uses “Ketamine” in the credits, so everything’s kind of all connected.

Michael C. Hall: Awesome. I love to hear that people feel like anything we’re doing is serendipitous.

Rock Cellar: Before even going further, I feel like it’s important to point out that this is not “an actor in a band.” You guys have a special kind of chemistry, having met on the set of Hedwig. You all have backgrounds in music, musical theater experience. So if anybody thinks of this project as, you know, “an actor’s band,” then that’s doing a disservice to it in the way that that kind of phrasing usually does.

Michael C. Hall: Right. Yeah. I mean, I think we recognize that that characterization is probably inevitable, at least initially. But usually, if people come with some sort of preconceived idea or expectation of what it’s going to be, once we get going they forget about that.

Rock Cellar: How did it progress from meeting on the Hedwig set to, “OK, we have some of the same interests. Let’s make some music together”? Because it’s really difficult to put your music in a genre. It’s dramatic, it’s theatrical, and I think that reflects your individual backgrounds.

Peter Yanowitz: Matt and I come from more of a rock & roll background than a Broadway background, even though we all did Hedwig on Broadway, which was a lot of fun. I did Hedwig when Mike was Hedwig, I was the drummer in the Hedwig band, the Angry Inch. We had a great time, you know, playing every night for a few months and hanging out after. We lived near each other, so we would ride home together. That’s how that friendship evolved and started.

Matt and I have known each other for a long time, just from the New York, rock & roll, Lower East Side scene, playing all the same places together. His band Daddy, my band Morningwood would do shows together. Matt came on the Hedwig tour with me after the Broadway run ended, and we were just hanging out all the time. We were like, “let’s do this, let’s hang out when we get back to the city.” And we did. We just started making a few instrumentals, and Mike heard them.

We knew Mike was an amazing singer and front person from Hedwig, and Lazarus as well. He heard it and we were like, “please like this.” And he did. He noticed that we didn’t have any vocals, and everything sort of evolved from that.

Rock Cellar: When you put together the EP, what part of the process made you all think, “OK, this was fun for a few songs but there’s definitely more we can say with this”? When did the momentum pick up and become its own thing?

Peter Yanowitz: I would say straight away, we recorded … one of the instrumentals Matt and I had concocted was the basis for what became “Love American Style.” Mike came, he took the subway downtown, he had some lyrics that he wrote on the subway, he wrote some lyrics here. The first time we tried to put words to the music, it just happened. There’s something about that, it just kept happening.

Matt Katz-Bohen: Yeah, definitely. It sort of felt like a bit of kismet that we were all able to make music so easily together. And then I think after those initial times, I would start an idea and I would send it around to those guys, and then they would add to it. Then Mike or Peter would start something and send it to me and I would add to it, and that just kept building and it was a great way to work. A lot of creativity was unlocked. For me, it was a great time.

Rock Cellar: If someone asked, “What kind of influences do you guys have?” what’s the answer?

Michael C. Hall: All the good stuff.

Rock Cellar: You recently went out on a European tour. I don’t know if that was your first actual tour, though I know you’ve played some show previously in the New York area. Was it cathartic to finally be able to tour after not really doing that during the pandemic?

Matt Katz-Bohen: Yeah, extremely. It was amazing to be there around all those people, and they were so excited to be there as well. That was our first proper tour. We played like, I don’t know, 15 shows around New York City, but this was a different experience, a different country. And we felt very welcomed. It was wonderful.

Rock Cellar: Your full-length album, Thanks for Coming, was released during the pandemic. Did that have a sense of muted celebration with it, when you couldn’t go out on the road to tour in support of it right away?

Michael C. Hall: Yeah, it was sort of a slow burn. I don’t know if we would have put that record together — certainly not in the same way — were it not for the pandemic, but it sort of forced us to focus in that way, because playing live wasn’t available. Of course, it’s taken some time to get out and start sharing it. We have to remind ourselves that while the record feels, you know, very lived-in for us, it’s new to a lot of people, and that’s part of the fun of touring with that music.

We play additional songs from as yet unreleased stuff that we’re sitting on too, but most of it comes from that record. Every time, it’s like giving it new life, a new birth.

Rock Cellar: With that experience in mind, what are you looking forward to showing US audiences with this new tour, since they haven’t experienced it yet?

Peter Yanowitz: For me, it seems like this is one of those bands you do sort of have to see live to get an idea of what it is. We saw that happen in Europe. I think it sort of came into focus even more to us, what it was live. And that was really cool to play around in that area for a couple weeks in Europe. Hopefully, the same thing happens here.

But to go back to your last thing about releasing music during the pandemic, we found ourselves in a position where we had all this time and we were working on so much music, in a weird way it’s almost like the pandemic … people were just sort of captive anyway. It seemed like, at least in my mind, like a little forest fire started with our music, with everybody sort of in lockdown. It gave people a chance to really discover us and sit with us for a while, and maybe we’re feeling that love a little bit when we play live.

Rock Cellar: The band name, Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum, is especially unique. Matt, I hear your daughter came up with the name?

Matt Katz-Bohen: Yeah, she did. She actually did. I was asking her what band name she would choose for her theoretical band in the future. And she just threw that out there. We were trying to come up with band names, we came up with a whole bunch of names, and then that one just kept coming back as like, “wow, this one’s so cool.” So I asked her if we could use it and she was thrilled. She was very happy, she’s very proud. I hope she comes up with another cool name. I think she will.

Rock Cellar: That’s a good first band name, for sure. Yeah. The aesthetic of your music videos you’ve made so far is very engaging. It’s very irreverent in a uniquely entertaining way. Do you have any visuals like that for the tour?

Michael C. Hall: We do have a lighting designer who we’ve worked with on most of our New York gigs, but he won’t be accompanying us on tour. We’re working on incorporating some elements, but ultimately, yeah, it’s mostly the three-ring circus of the three of us.

Rock Cellar: I know that it’s a big step to finally, after all this, be able to properly tour for the album and get your the music out in front of more people. Beyond that, what’s next for the band? Matt, sounds like you’ll have a Blondie tour to do this summer. Any other projects you all might have going on or are you only focusing on this new U.S. tour right now?

Matt Katz-Bohen: We have another album that’s pretty much ready to go, actually. We keep recording, we record all the time, we’re always working on something. And yeah, about the Blondie stuff, luckily Debbie [Harry] is one of our biggest fans. She said, “do what you guys need to do,” and we coordinated our schedules and it worked out so that I’m able to do both. But yeah, Princess, we’re just gonna keep going. There’s no sign of stopping.

Michael C. Hall: Yeah, we have another video we did, some remixes that we’re going to release, maybe before releasing as a full-length, whenever that happens. We’ll perhaps release some singles from that or from elsewhere, because there’s other stuff we’re working on. And I think we’ll continue to do, you know, short-burst tour stretches. I think there’s a little trip down to Texas planned. There’s a gig in New York. There’s maybe some more sort of northeastern stuff, potentially playing a festival in the Czech Republic.

So, you know, little stuff here and there on the horizon. And we’ll just try to keep it rolling.

Rock Cellar: And then as a closing question, your Phantogram cover was one of the first things I heard from you guys. How’d that come about, because it’s a pretty compelling interpretation of that song.

Matt Katz-Bohen: Thank you. Yeah, no, we saw Phantogram, And they put on a great show, I’ve seen them a couple of times, and we just felt like that song would be perfect as a cover.

Peter Yanowitz: Yeah, we kind of feel like they wrote one of our songs, so by us covering it, we’re just sort of claiming it. I mean, I say that in jest, because we’re big fans of theirs. But yeah, it was Matt’s idea and it did seem like it fit really well into our style. We don’t really know if they like it or not, hopefully they do.

But it’s nice that we were able to do something to it, like, take it another step.

Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum 2022 U.S. tour dates:

March 20 – Pioneertown, CA – Pappy & Harriets
March 21 – Costa Mesa, CA – Wayfarer *SOLD OUT*
March 22 – Los Angeles, CA – Zebulon *SOLD OUT*
March 23 – Oakland, CA – Starline Social Club
March 25 – Portland, OR – Star Theater *SOLD OUT*
March 26 – Spokane, WA – The Big Dipper *SOLD OUT*
March 27 – Seattle, WA – Madame Lou’s *SOLD OUT*
March 29 – Garden City, ID – Visual Arts Collective *SOLD OUT*
March 30 – Salt Lake City, UT – Metro Music Hall
March 31 – Denver, CO – The O
April 17 – Houston, TX – The Secret Group *SOLD OUT*
May 12 – New York, NY – Le Poisson Rouge *SOLD OUT*

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