Sunday, August 19, 2012

Recommended Reading - Mike Doughty "The Book of Drugs"

While most rock stars or musicians get candid about their life after their careers have reached their peak and they have been in and out of rehab more times than one could imagine, former Soul Coughing singer and acclaimed solo artist, Mike Doughty, released his memoir while still very active in the business. Doughty, who reached international acclaim in the 90's with Soul Coughing thanks to songs like "Super Bon-Bon," and "Circles," made more of a name for himself after the band split and he began working on his own and signing to Dave Matthews ATO records. Doughty, who still releases great music and packs every venue he plays in has become much more versatile as an active blogger, writer and now he can add author to his resume.

Releasing, The Book of Drugs, earlier this year, Doughty tells the dark tales of his drug using past and makes light of his situation, while the story and subject matter is very heavy, he also finds ways to find humor in what had happened. Recounting stories from the road, recording sessions and when he was just hanging out with friends, The Book of Drugs is one of the interesting memoirs to be released this year. We spoke with Doughty about his career, his interesting touring style, his story and book, take a look at our interview below.

You just released your live album, "The Question Jar Show" where it really captures not just your songs live but also the spirit of the shows. Your gigs are so unique, how much fun is it to perform each night in front of your fans?

Ridiculously fun. The Question Jar keeps the ball bouncing in unpredictable directions. I also get a kick out of watching my cello player, Andrew "Scrap" Livingston, bring his cognitive weirdness to the stage.

The concept of the tour was pretty amazing, just like the title suggests, fans would ask questions. How did the concept come up?

I do a lot of spieling at the shows, and I wanted something that'd be looser, dependent on serendipity. I wanted to be surprised, and delighted.

Your whole life you have always been on the go and always moved around. Because of your constant scene shift, is touring an easy thing for you?

I don't know that my childhood spent moving around--my dad was in the army--had much to do with seeking the touring life. Moving every few years is more stable than playing in a new city every night. I do very much enjoy touring, though, as it happens.

As asked in the live record, 'Would you rather play Twister with Dick Cheney or punch a kitten in the face?' So what is the answer?

Cheney. Ugh. But who could punch a kitten?

You have had a busy year with the tour, new record released and your book. Do you ever find time for yourself?

I thought that all was time for myself!

What does Mike Doughty do in his down time?

       I'm really always working on something, so in my downtime I rarely choose to be down. Hang out with friends. 12-step stuff--meetings, etc. Dinner with good people. Reading.

What made you want to write, "The Book of Drugs?"

I really just had a lot of good stories. There's nothing in there that I hadn't recounted to somebody over dinner or something.

Was it a liberating experience for you to discuss your "ugly, drug years?"

No, not really. Like I said, I've discussed this stuff with friends many times before now. It's strangely--and it can be liberating--to communicate with people who are in the book, now contacting me to give me their take on what happened. It seems like a lot of old threads are being untied at last.

You are constantly writing and blogging, especially on pop culture. What was your favorite pop culture story to write about?

I feel like I've kind of been out of the pop culture circuit, actually. Does the Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert count as pop culture?

You and your publicist Andy seem to have an amazing friendship. Andy produced your live record and sends out your annual April Fool's press releases. One of the April Fool's releases that struck me was when you were running for New York Senate. Who comes up with these ideas?

Either Andy or myself. My favorite was MayanSpace, a MySpace particularly for ancient American civilizations.

So many 90's bands have reunited, bands like Archers of Loaf, Pulp, Refused, Atari Teenage Riot, Pavement and so on. Will Soul Coughing ever get back together?

I can't imagine a scenario in which there'd be anything positive in that. The band was an ugly, ugly scene, and those years were heartbreaking, demoralizing, and disappointing. I can't imagine a sum that would make it worth it. I can't imagine being interested in revisiting that relationship, or those songs.

 Do you ever miss playing with your former bandmates?

Never. I was tremendously frustrated by the way those songs ended up on the records. We could've been much, much better than that; I think that my bandmates' impulse to be spiteful, greatly outweighed their interest in playing those songs. There are very few songs that made it through that band in the shape I envisioned them. It's really a shame.

I'm so engaged in the records I'm making now, and the songs I'm making now. There's tremendous fulfillment, and happiness. I follow my fascinations, and make exactly the music I want to--and I'm lucky to have an audience that's here with me.