Mike Doughty’s Lost Interview
A couple of weeks ago before the former Soul Coughing frontman came to town, I sent him some e-mail questions, hoping to do an article for the music section. I never heard back—or so I thought. I put together this little number at the last minute, blowing deadline and annoying my coworkers. (They were actually quite nice about it, but still ... )
Then, what should I fish out of my voracious spamtrap but the lost Doughty interview. Magical.
What did you do today? Where are you?
I had a cup of coffee and sat down to type out this interview. I'm in Austin, TX.
How has your live show evolved on this tour?
The song selection changes from night to night—I don't use a set list. I just have a clock onstage to make sure I don't go on too long. I figure out the songs as I go along.
What do you hope people take away from your live show?
A fantabulous, life-changing experience!
Have you ever hit the road alone? Is it weird to tour as a solo artist?
Yeah, I've toured a lot by myself. Besides the obvious challenge of loneliness, it's pretty liberating to be out there by yourself.
The lyrics for your later work deliver meaning, stories and scenes more directly than your Soul Coughing material. How has your process changed over time?
My process has mostly stayed the same—it's me that's changed.
You're known for making killer word choices. How do you find your words? What makes a word or phrase appealing to you?
I listen for the sound of the word as much for the meaning.
Do you also write other things, or mostly lyrics?
I write some prose. Working on a book, but it's been tough going.
Do you ever get sick of talking about your lyrics?
Nah, not really.
Who's your favorite lyricist?
I was surprised, when I listened to your latest release, that your guitar instincts are so bluesy. Do you listen to a lot of music that sounds like that?
No, I'm a huge John Lee Hooker fan. He's a big influence on me as a guy playing guitar and singing alone.
What else do you play?
A little bass, and really crude keyboards. I play with two fingers, like a techno producer.
What's the last album you bought?
Love Power Peace, Live in Paris 1972 by James Brown.
Do you have a favorite song that's being played on mainstream FM radio right now?
I love "Bad Romance."
Have you always been into music, or is it something you picked up later in life?
I became obsessed with music at age 12, when I discovered Led Zeppelin.
If you weren't a musician, what would you do for a living?
I have no idea. I'm not much good at anything else.
Was there ever a time when you wanted to stop being a musician and a performer altogether?
Sometimes. It can be a lonely life.
Do you think of yourself as lucky?
Yes, very much so!