For three years, the actor has been the frontman of Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum, an experimental rock trio based in New York. The band, which also features keyboardist Matt Katz-Bohen and drummer Peter Yanowitz, unveiled the music video for their new single, “Eat An Eraser,” Wednesday.
“Eat An Eraser” is the first single from Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum’s forthcoming album, “Thanks for Coming,” due out in February. Produced in collaboration with Yanowitz’s brother Andy, the video finds Hall traversing an animated landscape to a 1980s-inspired, synth-pop groove. At one point, his head is consumed by flames, and later, he’s swept up in a swarm of butterflies. It’s as if he and his bandmates consolidated the chaos of 2020 into 4 1/2 minutes of danceable exuberance.
“I hope people wake up, and they remember a really weird dream, and wonder where the hell it came from,” Hall told HuffPost in an interview. “And then think: ‘Oh, it was that song. Yeah, that gave me weird dreams.’ Lyrically, it’s about what to do with your longing in the face of forces beyond your control.”
Watch the music video for “Eat An Eraser.” Story continues below.
Though his roles on “Dexter” and “Six Feet Under” left indelible marks on pop culture, Hall is also an accomplished singer and musical theater performer. He met Katz-Bohen, who has played with Blondie and Cyndi Lauper, and Yanowitz, a founding member of The Wallflowers and Morningwood, when the men were castmates in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” on Broadway in 2014.
In their downtime, Katz-Bohen and Yanowitz worked on original melodies together. After witnessing his pals’ at-home jam sessions, Hall wrote lyrics for what would become the song “Love American Style,” and a band was born.
And Katz-Bohen’s young daughter can take credit for the trio’s fanciful name, which seems oddly appropriate given its theatrical origins.
“I was asking my [then] 4-year-old what her band would be called, and she said, ‘Princess goes to the butterfly museum,’ like she didn’t even have to think about it,” the keyboardist recalled. “And I thought, wow, that’s kind of a perfect name, so I said, ‘Do you mind if I take that for my band?’”
Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum released their self-titled EP in April. Sonically, its six tracks are rife with 1970s and ’80s flourishes. “Love American Style,” for example, sounds like David Bowie in his glam rock heyday, while the trippy club banger “Come Talk to Me” winks at disco god Giorgio Moroder.
The EP’s most sublime moment, however, is “Ketamine,” a haunting ballad about a fraught romance that showcases Hall’s lower register and wouldn’t feel out of place on a Radiohead album. As an actor, Hall’s brutally honest, nuanced performances have always been a perfect match for prestige TV. His genre-defying work with Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum proves that his musical ambitions are just as compelling.
Still, launching an artistic endeavor of any sort in 2020 is a struggle, and Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum has had to grapple with the same challenges facing the music industry as a whole. Though the band played a gig at New York’s Mercury Lounge in February, their touring plans were curtailed weeks later when clubs, theaters and other performance venues across the country closed due to COVID-19.
Turns out, the unexpected downtime has been fortuitous, at least from a musical standpoint.
“The band’s been a real blessing in all of this,” Hall said. “We write in every way imaginable. Maybe we’ve had to adjust how we make stuff, but it hasn’t really kept us from moving forward.”
“We just dove into making shit together and keeping each other engaged,” added Yanowitz. “I’ve been in a lot of bands, and it’s just weird and interesting that this one has three people who are equally interested in writing, producing and getting their ideas out. So we just try to stay on top of it and never let an idea sit around too long. Like food in the fridge, it starts to get stale.”