Interview: Mike Doughty on The Hell That Was Soul Coughing, The Benefits of Psychedelics, and Fictionally Screwing a Republican
If you met someone that was a Republican...
I don't know, man. I've been wondering about that. There was a Facebook application that will give you the stats of everybody on your profile. I've got like 1000 friends. Two percent are Republican. Why don't I know more Republicans? I grew up at West Point, goddamnit!
As far as turn of phrase goes, or a lyric, what makes a combination of words jump out at you?
Hank Williams never wrote anything down. He's like, "If I don't remember it, it's not very good." I do write things down so I'm not adhering to the pure Hank Williams method. I do sort of wait for things to catch me, rather than for me to go and craft something that's catchy. I think that's probably true of all catchy writers. Boy, what a terrible thing to be. "Oh, he's catchy!" It's one of those things, those non-compliment compliments. "You're songs are really...catchy!" That's just what I do. Who else does it? Rappers do it. That's about it. I've just been listening to hip-hop since I was a kid. That just always seemed the most interesting music, verbally.
I wanted to ask you about poetry. For most people their experience with poetry in the past five years would be watching the Obama inauguration, that woman reading that terrible robot poem.
Robot poem is right.
It's a thing people don't have an experience with.
I disagree. I think poetry is a lot healthier and closer to the mainstream than it was when I was like 18 and doing that stuff. It's kind of like a young person's game. I wouldn't feel comfortable stepping into that arena. As you get older your poems get smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller. I would be on stage with a little thing and every one else is like whoa! Exploding all over the place!
It always seemed, in reference to your lyrics, maybe more so with Soul Coughing--you couldn't escape without this annoying way of describing it, always 'Beat-inspired.'
The Beatnik tag, I really don't like it. Sure, I read that stuff--but there's no beret, I promise you. Although I did show up at a poetry slam once with a bongo player. Bob Holman made fun of me for about five years. "You actually brought a bongo player? You were that guy?" Yeah, I was that guy. It was a djembe by the way, not a bongo. Very, very different.
You went to [the Saratoga Springs artist community] Yaddo recently. Did you go as a writer/poet, or a musician?
I was working on a musical with a theater artist named Young Jean Lee. We went as collaborators. Really we got very little done on that, but I got a ton of work done on everything else. My electronic music thing, Dubious Luxury--I practically finished the record.
Are you allowed to make noise during the day?
They put me in the cabin out in the woods. I mean, I don't know if anyone was making electro-house music like I was. It was pretty cool to be able to wake up at five in the morning and just be like, BOOMBOOMBOOM.
As far as the musical?
We were dating. We've broken up. I think it's going to be maybe a year before we can pick up the threads again. I hope I can work with her again, I think she's a genius.
On Twitter you were talking about Pavement's reunion and saying you were having nightmares about a Soul Coughing reunion.
I get more and more afraid that a reunion is going to be forced upon me at knifepoint. I don't need money that bad. I swear to God. To become a billionaire...okay. If they poked out one my eyes, I would reform Soul Coughing so they didn't poke out the other one. Oh, man.