I had the distinct pleasure of bringing Mike Doughty, songwriter and author, into the TCTV studio to talk about his new book, The Book Of Drugs, his new album, Yes & Also Yes, and how the music business has changed during his long and tumultuous career.
You may remember Doughty as the leader of Soul Coughing, a band that brought cerebral trip-hop into the mainstream and defined a genre of music that focused on organic rhythms and complex, often impressionistic lyrics. As a lonely white boy in the 1990s, I nodded along to Ruby Vroom and Irresistible Bliss while writing COBOL code to head off the Y2K bug.
Doughty is past all that now – his book details the various and virulent ways his band members undercut and ruined the experience and, in turn, tore Soul Coughing down around Doughty’s ears. With his criticism in the back of my mind, it’s easy now to see the cracks in the acid jazz/”Cool G” facade. Soul Coughing is gone and he’s now a strong and melodic songwriter. He writes odes to women with unsingable names and celebrates second chances, building a canon that is upbeat but nostalgic. You get the sense that Doughty has come out of those dark years a better man.
In this interview we talked about his current success and how he made it out of the music business alive. He cites Napster as his primary musical savior. After Soul Coughing split, Doughty found that his solo album Skittish ended up on the file sharing site where his fans shared tunes and actually sang along to unreleased music as he toured with just his guitar and voice. These shared files and his loyal audience ensured Doughty a second act, but on his terms.