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Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum on Friendship, Fear in Songwriting & Their Current Tour

Photo Credit: Shervin Lainez

Coming to Chicago on Sunday, July 24th, is Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum; an electrifying trio comprised of Michael C. Hall (Dexter, Six Feet Under), Peter Yanowitz (The Wallflowers), and Matt Katz-Bohen (Psychic TV, Blondie); their music defies attempts at classification. The instant you think you know what you’re hearing, they’ve taken a turn in the opposite direction. Recently the band was kind enough to take some time to answer some brief questions about this project vs. their vast sum of experience, friendship and fear in songwriting, their current tour, and more.

Andrew Howie: The three of you all have your own experiences coming into this project; both in music and otherwise. What are some positives about Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum vs. some of your other work?

Matt Katz-Bohen: Being part of a trio, a three piece, I think, has been a great thing, personally, for me. It just kind of streamlines everything and it’s just us three, it’s a beautiful process of recording and writing and creating.

AH: Would you say that’s affected how you put the music together in any way?

Michael C. Hall: We don’t really have a set way of writing songs, or recording. Sometimes it’ll be a musical idea, a certain piece, or germ of a musical idea, a germ of a lyrical or melodic idea, and you know it grows from there in whichever way it needs to grow. Sometimes we’re recording in the same room in the studio, where Matt is now. Sometimes we share things remotely. I think with this Thanks For Coming record, it was put together in the pandemic, probably half of it was the result of songs we wrote somewhat remotely, and we would come together and fully realize it, so there was really no set way of doing it.

AH: If I’m not mistaken, you’ve been working on new material as well, correct?

Peter Yanowitz: We do have a new record that’s fully realized and mixed, and we are continuing to write even more stuff that now is being considered for that new record as well. It should be out sometime early in 2023, we’ll be releasing some singles this fall. We do have a debut six-song EP and then Thanks For Coming, our first full-length that we released during the pandemic. I think this new record is branched out a little bit from the other releases of ours. It maybe is exploring our pop side a little more, maybe a bit more focused, and it’s got some of my favorite songs.

We’re playing some of those songs now on this tour we’re on and getting a great response. A track called “Let It Go” is brand new, nobody’s heard it before, and when we play it at our shows, people seem to be responding to that. Another song, Jetpack, which will be on the new release, is getting a lot of love on tour. It has been exciting to be able to play these new songs on tour and get an immediate feel for what people are digging and responding to. Sometimes we don’t get a response, so it’s really great to be able to go on stage and work out some of the songs. That’s a luxury we didn’t have on our first two releases.

AH: The descriptors for your music are all over the place; everything from electropop with folk elements to Nine Inch Nails meets David Bowie. Were any of those conscious decisions when putting the album together?

MCH: We never really have a conversation about how we want to sound or who we want to emulate. We just make what we make. That said, I do agree with that characterization of our music, and I think those are all influences that we share when we intersect.

MKB: It’s full circle. We pull from a lot of the same things, but it’s not a conscious thing necessarily. I don’t think we have any intention other than to just provide complete and utter transcendence to the people, and that’s just what comes out.

AH: I think more than a few musicians would like to provide that sort of transcendence to their audience; what do you think might sometimes get in the way or hold people back from maybe giving it the full send and trying to take people to that kind of place?

PY: It’s scary whenever you’re making something and sharing it with people. It causes some people to contract, play it really safe, or not even make anything at all, because it’s just too overwhelming to put yourself out there like that. I think this band is a really good example of just friends coming together, losing the fear, losing the preconceptions. Like our press release says, we sort of have been playing catchup to even being in a band together. We sort of feel like the band came out from under us without any of us really realizing it. With all the bands I’ve been in, it’s been ‘let’s start a band!’ or ‘let’s sound like this’ or we had it planned out before we started. This band was the exact opposite. We had a body of songs that just grew out of us hanging out and making music together, and not being conscious of what we were doing, not letting fear play any part of the process.

That said, it is still kind of scary sometimes to release music and feel like hey, ‘listen to what we made.’ It’s a weird energy in itself, but I think we sort of try as much as possible not to let fear or any doubt enter our minds. We will write music and realize later it’s not right to release as Princess, but we’re still happy we wrote it. I would encourage other people to lose all that bullshit. Make stuff, and if you feel like sharing, great, if not, that’s cool too. Just don’t let fear get in the way of your process, because it’s an important process to allow yourself to go through.

AH: So you’re hitting Chicago for the first time on this summer tour; are there any other first-time stops for Princess?

MCH: I think actually all of the stops on this tour are new locations for us.

PY: I’m from Chicago; I was born in Hyde Park. I’m really in love with Chicago as a city that feels like a town. I’ve recorded a lot at Electric Audio with Steve Albini, one of my favorite producers, and he’s definitely getting an invite to the show. More than anything we are so damned excited to get to Chicago just because it’s such a kick-ass music city and a great city all around.

Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum performs at Metro Chicago on July 24 – click here for tickets.

Andrew Howie
Andrew Howie
Andrew Howie is a Midwestern treasure who isn't exactly sure how to talk about himself without being sarcastic and self-deprecating. His music taste is pretentious and he wants to tell you all about it.

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