Princess Goes released their sophomore album Come of Age in September of 2023 and has already generated much buzz in the music world. Alt-wire had the opportunity to talk to the Princess Goes members to discuss their latest project and what brought them together.
Alt-Wire (Danny Benavides): I know you guys have been together for a few years now, and of course, prior to had been making music separately for some time. How did you guys come together?
Matt Katz-Bohen / Princess Goes: How did we come together? Hm, yeah, so I’ve known Peter for years from the New York music scene. We both played in various bands and would sort of cross paths downtown. He was in a band called Morningwood. I was in a band called Daddy, but we reconnected on the Hedwig musical on Broadway. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Hedwig and the Angry Inch, but that’s kind of was sort of the fulcrum that brought us all together. I was the Assistant Music Director on the show. Peter was the drummer. Mike was Hedwig. He was actually playing Hedwig every night. And then Peter and I went on the national tour, and we sort of said, “Hey, we should jam, man. Let’s jam, but let’s make our own music and not play someone else’s music.” So we got back to New York City, and sure enough, we started coming up with our own jams and writing and recording songs with Peter on drums, and I was on keyboard and piano. There’s this really old piano in Peter’s studio. It’s from 1910. So that was a lot of the early stuff was just us writing and recording that way. And then Peter was having dinner with Mike one night and said, “Hey man, check out. Check out what I’ve been up to.” And Mike heard our gems and said, “Wow, this is pretty cool, but I can’t help but notice there’s no one singing on this.” And Peter said, then what happened? Peter, did you say better sing on it, Mofo?
Peter Yanowitz / Princess Goes: I mean, we were like, yeah, of course. And knowing Mike’s vocal range already, it was just perfect timing for us. He came in and sang on a couple of tracks of Vicious and Love America style from our first EP, and it was just effortless. It was so much fun, and the lyrics were so dope, and we were like, let’s go. Let’s keep going. It was fun.
Alt-Wire: That’s awesome. Actually, as I was listening to your recent sophomore album, Come Of Age, I know it’s very clear you guys have further evolved as a band. Not only that but it also just kind of feels like it just further solidifies you guys are here to stay, which is freaking awesome. I am really enjoying it. I noticed there were moments when I was listening to it, and I felt like I was catching little different influences that reminded me of Gorillaz or Radiohead. Or especially Future Islands, who I absolutely love. And then I didn’t know until much later on, after hearing the album that you guys had, went on record to mention Future Islands being an Influence. And I was like, hell yeah, I knew it. I was just wondering if there were any other kind of bands that kind of helped influence your sound a bit.
Matt: Yeah, yeah, good call with the Future Islands influence. I got to see them in, I think, 2014 when with Blondie because I was touring with Blondie on keyboards, and we did a show together. We did Jules Holland in the UK, and it was sort of incredible to see them also because they don’t have a guitar player. So, obviously, I’m on synth and bass. I play some acoustic a little bit, but our sound is heavily bass synth, drum drum-oriented, although we are dabbling in more guitar sounds now. But I mean, in terms of musical influences, good God, there’s just so many of them. I saw Depeche Mode last night. And their guy, he started behind, not Martin Gore, was keyboard and guitar, but they had another guy who was keyboard and bass switching it up. And I’m not saying that they ripped off Princess, but I’m just saying it’s a little suspicious that we’re doing that we’re doing that. *chuckles*
It’s kind of, and a lot of their songs and sounds, I was realizing like, oh yeah, I’ve internalized this, and it’s incredibly, it’s coming out in our music, but I also think, I don’t know, guys. Influences. It’s so hard to say.
Michael C Hall / Princess Goes: Yeah, I mean, I think the influences are the ones that we wouldn’t consciously dial up. They’re just things that are, we never talked about the kind of band we wanted to be or how we wanted to sound, or we wanted to sound like, or any of that. That just sort of takes care of itself. Your influences or your influences and whatever way our individual inner influences intersect has a lot to do with what we come up with collectively. But it’s not something we talk about or consciously aspire to. I mean, I think we’re not all the exact same age, but there’s some sort of intersection of coming online musically in terms of just being fans of music that coincides with the eighties. You could definitely hear that. But it goes from there, from really heavy stuff to classical stuff to who knows what. It’s wide open.
Michael: Now I gotta ask is that Carrie Fisher [poster] over your right shoulder?
Alt-Wire: Haha, Yeah, it is.
Michael: Okay. Just needed to know that.
Peter: She’s definitely an Influence. Come on.
Michael: Yeah. Princess Leia definitely is.
Alt-Wire: Do you guys have, I guess, that one album or maybe a few that’s either grown up or just coming up early on that just changed your life? Maybe that album that just made you say, you know what, holy shit, this is the greatest thing in the world, and it’s just completely just changed the trajectory of everything you had going on.
Matt: The “Oh shit” album, haha.
Peter: I always go back to Dylan. My mom was, I was lucky enough that my mom was a big Dylan fan and I grew up as a child. My dad was a jazz musician, so I had a lot of jazz in the house and a lot of Dylan and a lot of Broadway scores, like Hair and stuff like that. But Dylan was huge. Blood on the Tracks, Blonde on Blonde, and all the early Dylan records were just on constant play in my house. And then I got to play with Dylan’s son in the Wallflowers and every time I’d get in, Jacob would pick me up for rehearsal in his car, and he’d have all the Dylan cassettes on the scattered all over the floor of the Bronco and just pick one up and put it in. And I mean, it’s like the one constant in my life. And then eventually, when I was with Natalie Merchant, I got to open up for Dylan, and he’s just kind of the one constant that I, back to just, I don’t know, being Jewish as well, I was just also in awe. Another Jewish artist that I could look up to as a young person. And I Don’t know, it’s just always been an inspiration.
Michael: I would definitely have to; if I were saying a handful of artists or albums, I would say Dylan as well, I’d say. Hearing Back in Black when I was in junior high, I was like, holy shit. And then from that to Astral Weeks, van Morrison, that’s an album that kind of blew my mind and remains in my rotation. I came across a box set of Nick Drake, The Time and No Reply, Five Leaves Left Brighter or Later, and Pink Moon. And those records really blew my mind, I think. And the Bends when it came out. I mean, back when Radio Head, I mean, I’ve maintained, I’m still a fan of theirs, of course, but that was maybe the most sort of straight-up banger after banger kind of record they did. That was really huge. But I don’t know; it goes on and on—the Tallis Scholars recording of the Palino and Misa Bre. I mean, it’s all over the place, but I think after weeks, maybe just because it got stuck in my tape deck for an entire summer when I was in college up in Vermont, working, doing theater in a barn, that one kind of burned, it burned its way into my unconscious, I think.
Matt: I mean, I’ll say a couple, yeah, because it’s also incredibly difficult to say, but I think one of the first albums that I remember feeling like was my own; my dad had a big album collection. He still does, but I remember I really wanted to get Raising Hell by Run D.M.C, and that felt like this is my thing.
Alt-Wire: Such a good record.
Matt: Such a good album. And it’s kind of like a rock album. I mean, obviously, there’s the Aerosmith collaboration, but it’s just a very hard and heavy album in every way. And then also I would say “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This” by Eurythmics. That’s something I just listened to constantly when it came out. It was just like, holy shit, what is this sound? What’s going on here? Which obviously plays into the sort of synth vibes of Princess, which you can hear. Hopefully, you can hear some eurythmics influence on there.
“We started with a couple of songs that felt really big and anthemic, and after you have a couple of those in the can, it seems like it’s hard to just go and write a song that doesn’t” – Peter / Princess Goes
Alt-Wire: Yeah, for sure. Speaking of going into your sophomore album, was there anything you guys wanted to approach that either subconsciously or discussed as a band that you guys said, all right, this is what we did this time around. Like this is what we want to change, this is what we want to bring to the table on the second run.
Peter: So much of our music-making is unconscious. I don’t think we’ve ever stopped and thought of what we wanted to do. I will say this though, about the new record. We started with a couple of songs that felt really big and anthemic, and after you have a couple of those in the can, it seems like it’s hard to just go and write a song that doesn’t. And I know one Anthem begets another anthem, and I feel like maybe if there was any theme on the choosing of songs for this record, it was just what could hang together. And it seemed like a lot of big songs decided to hang together on this one without
Alt-Wire: Yeah. Okay. And I know you guys are touring or about to start touring again here shortly. Do you guys have any best concert moments so far touring together?
Michael: We played an outdoor show after having not played for quite a bit in Brooklyn to kick off what for the rest of that little stint, was a UK and European tour. But that was a blast playing in the open air as the sun was setting and planes periodically flying overhead. That was pretty cool. I think feel like our show in Paris was really, I don’t know, had a little magic to it. I mean, they all do, I think a favorite show is the one you’re playing. But I’d say those two. What do you guys think?
Peter: Couldn’t agree more.
Matt: Yeah, I think it’s hard to pick because they’re all kind of magical. I think even if the show is not going well, it’s still, looking back, it’s kind of magical.
Michael: There was that show in Liverpool at the end of our first UK tour, which was a couple of years ago, but it was simultaneously the smallest stage we played on. I mean, it really felt like we were locked in a little closet and the largest mirror ball I’ve ever seen. So it was a nice sort of juxtaposition of extremes. Really small stage, a really big mirror ball. And that felt like just on the edge of K.
Alt-Wire: All right. Now I know you guys, like I said, you guys are going to kick off the tour. Aside from that, do you guys have already any future plans in the works, or what’s going on? I feel like the obvious answer, of course, is we’re just going to keep jamming and making music. But I have to ask, what else do you guys have plans in the works?
Michael: Yeah, we just want to keep jamming, man. No, we do. But I think we’ve got a lot of other songs. Songs in different states of development or even completion and certainly want to keep making music and releasing music. I don’t know how, and I don’t know exactly when that’s going to happen, but for the time being, yeah, we have some shows in January and then in December, and then some more in January and probably into 2024. We’ll continue to play periodically based on the release of this record, but I can’t say definitively, but we definitely hope to record more music and maybe record in different ways. The first two records were not exclusively, but almost very largely recorded in the studio off of Union Square in New York, and sort of self-produced in that little clubhouse. And that’s been really fruitful and fun and freeing, and there’s no ticking clock, but I think we’re interested in maybe recording in a different context, in a different way, maybe with someone else at the dials. We’ll see.
Alt-Wire: Well, I cannot wait to see what you guys come up with, and next time you guys are in Austin, I’m definitely going to come and see you guys too. Thank you guys for your time. Thanks for chatting with me, and yeah, you guys have a good one.
Matt: Thanks. Thanks, Danny. Stay cool.
Be sure to check out Princess Goes when they return on tour in December.
12/08 – Charlotte, NC – Visulite Theatre
12/09 – Savannah, GA – District Live
12/10 – Atlanta, GA – Terminal West
01/05 – San Diego, CA – Music Box
01/06 – West Hollywood, CA – Troubadour
01/07 – San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall
01/19 – Asheville, NC – The Grey Eagle
01/20 – Nashville, TN – Exit/In
01/21 – Louisville, KY – Headliners Music Hall