Michael C. Hall famously played a killer of other serial killers on the TV series “Dexter.”
On July 22, his avant-garde band Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum rocks Baltimore Soundstage, performing what the band describes as “gothadelic” or “rocktronic” music.
“It’s pretty broad-spectrum, eclectic, atmospheric, maybe cinematic, kaleidoscopic,” Hall told WTOP in a trio interview with his bandmates. “We never sat down and decided how we wanted to sound or who we wanted to sound like, we just started making music.”
The trio met on the set of Broadway’s “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” in which Hall played the lead role of Hedwig, Peter Yanowitz played drums and Matt Katz-Bohen played keys.
“I got a taste of what it was to front a band and play with Peter every night — it was somebody else’s music, but it gave us a sense of how much fun that was,” Hall said. “Peter and Matt knew each other way back. Matt joined the band for a tour of the show, they reacquainted, hit it off, started making instrumental stuff. … I just offered to sing.”
Before they knew it, they had recorded enough music for a touring set list.
“It was all just an experiment for fun, but the next thing we knew, we had written like 10 songs and were like, ‘We should play these for somebody other than ourselves,'” Hall said. “We booked a gig and we came up with a name and we’ve been chasing it ever since.”
Adorably, it was Katz-Bohen’s daughter who came up with the band name.
“She just told me, ‘This is the name that you guys are going to have,’ and that was it,” Katz-Bohen said. “We have little keytar pins that she loves, she loves the shirts, the cool writing and the logo, the hats. … She’s sort of swimming in it, it’s big on her.”
The name provided plenty of freedom to experiment with different genres.
“The name helped with our hope that we could keep it wide-open,” Hall said. “The Butterfly Museum sounds like a place where you could have a lot of different kinds of songs, kinds of sounds, kinds of feelings, different wings in the museum that you could visit. If you create something that feels new, you can just knock down a wall and build a new wing.”
Their first release was a self-titled EP, featuring the haunting track “Ketamine.”
“‘Ketamine’ was a special track that we wrote together early on,” Yanowitz said. “It started with a four-note bass line. Mike heard it and immediately saw some vocal melody potential on lyrics. We sent it to Matt, he took this piano track that he’d done in his studio and put all these delays and effects [and] created this soundscape from a very minimal piano track.”
They followed up with their first full-length album “Thanks for Coming.”
“We had a good amount of material together and some plans to go do some recording in the desert in California and maybe do some shows out there, but that all got canceled because of the pandemic,” Hall said. “We were regrouping and realizing it may be a good time to put a full-length together. Half of the songs were written during the pandemic.”
They recently released “Ketamine (The Remix EP),” featuring four collaborations.
“Four different artists from all over the world … did reinterpretations of the song,” Yanowitz said. “One’s from Detroit called The Armed, they have a great record out called ‘Ultrapop.’ … Our mixer friend Brandon Bost did a remix. … Pihka Is My Name, a duo from Norway, did an electronic remix. Then DJ Lauren Flax from New York did a house remix of it.”
Speaking of other bands, Yanowitz started drumming for The Wallflowers.
“My first band out of college, I moved to L.A. and met those guys, they were just out of high school and we started The Wallflowers,” Yanowitz said. “It was a really good time, especially in the beginning we were doing more experimental replacement rock ‘n roll. I really liked that garage rock, but over time it seemed to morph into more Americana.”
Meanwhile, Katz-Bohen played keyboard for Blondie and Cyndi Lauper.
“They’re great,” Katz-Boehn said. “I’m actually recording with Debbie [Harry] later today for a new Blondie album. She’s a big Princess fan. She’s come to numerous shows and has even helped us carry gear into the venue, out of the venue, load it into her car when we need extra help transporting things. She’ll go grab us food, coffee, it’s a great relationship.”
As for Hall, his previous gigs include HBO’s funeral-home drama “Six Feet Under.”
“I never made a definitive point of being surrounded by dead bodies, but it seems to keep happening,” Hall said. “People will certainly still talk about ‘Six Feet Under.’ Because of the way content survives nowadays, some people will reveal that they just started watching it, so it’s still alive out there. It’s cool! It makes you feel like you’re still working.”
Still, his most famous role remains the title serial killer in Showtime’s “Dexter.”
“It was the first one to tell a story subjectively from the point of view of a serial killer,” Hall said. “Because as an audience you’re in on his traumatic origin story and appreciating that he’s taken unique responsibility for his darkness and only kills bad people, and you’re hearing his internal monologue, you’re rooting for him and implicated in what he’s doing.”
How would Dexter threaten folks to see their band at Baltimore Soundstage?
“Come see the show or I’ll kill you,” Hall said.