Mike Doughty

The Developing Arts And Music Foundation
Minneapolis, MN
November 2002

We owe it all to Napster.

In the summer of 1995, a gaunt young army brat strolled into the studio of ShimmyDisc producer Kramer, and recorded an album that was never intended to see the light of day. The former front man for the phenomenally successful group Soul Coughing, M. Doughty would have probably never released his solo album, Skittish, had it not been for the internet.

When Soul Coughing called it a day in early 2000, Doughty took to the road with nothing but a Baby Taylor practice guitar and a handful of original songs, only to discover that audiences already knew – and loved – the material he was performing. As it turned out, his solo recordings were a hot file-sharing commodity – by the end of the year, he decided to get a piece of his own action.

Last year at First Avenue, the newly re-christened “Mike” proclaimed, “Every time I go on tour, I’m gonna add another thing to my name”. If he keeps his word, in about four more years his stage moniker will have expanded to “the legendary internationally renowned award-winning sleeveless Mike Doughty”. Based on the succession of projects he’s been involved in the past couple of years, the name could end up getting longer.

In a recent phone conversation, I asked Mike Doughty about the prospect of starting another band, by the time his next album is completed (probably around early 2003). He actually doesn’t seem to have thought about it much.

“I’ve been doing these arrangements at home, on a little sequencer – drums, piano, horns, and whatever else you wanna throw into the mix. Electric piano is my thing lately – like old Wurlitzer sounds. There’s a bass player, the guy from the Groove Collective, that I’ve been writing with. He’s sort of indulging his inner Paul McCartney on me.”

Doughty recently recorded a couple of tracks with his pal John Flansburgh, of They Might Be Giants, which ended up on that band’s new LP, Mink Car. When Flansburgh mentioned a comic book project he was writing songs for, Doughty jumped on board, upon learning that one of the comic artists was Chris Ware, whose work he professes great admiration for. “I just actually wrote a script for a comic book”, he offers, “It’s sort of a well-known comic book character I wrote for, but I don’t want to reveal it because it may end up not happening [laughing].”

A music writer for The New York Press, Doughty recently had an essay published in the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2001, a result of a journalistic debate with a co-worker. Explained Doughty, “There was another critic that I was kind of having this argument with – he was like, “music isn’t really good unless it’s dangerous” [laughing]. It’s funny, because his examples were like, The Ramones – the guys that did California Sun. Doughty laughingly dismissed the idea that bands like Slipknot or Limp Bizkit are dangerous. “It’s funny, but those bands are so emo, it’s unbelievable [laughing], so self-revelatory – this kind of painful expunging of personal sturm und drung. Which is great, to see men being emotional – I dig that.”

The title of Doughty’s essay, incidentally, is “I Like It Warm and Fuzzy“.

© J.Free / D.A.M.F.; 2002; 2022

To read the pre-edited interview / conversation GO HERE