Mike Doughty’s music is deceptively simple but is, in fact, a sophisticated take on modern pop that reaches beyond simple rock and folk genre designations to something smarter, broader and ultimately, genuine.
A brief history: Doughty was the frontman to ’90s alternative band Soul Coughing, a bratty NYC four-piece that combined post-grunge, funk and indie into infectious rock centered around Doughty’s deep, brassy voice and whip-smart lyrics. Contemporaries included acts like Cake, Morphine, Eels and Fun Lovin’ Criminals. After releasing three successful albums on Warners, the band split up in 2000.
Doughty struck out on his own. The story goes that he sold more than 20,000 copies of his self-released EP Skittish out of the trunk of his car. It was none other than Dave Matthews that rediscovered Doughty in 2004 and rereleased his early solo EPs on his own ATO Records. Fourteen years and as many albums later, Doughty released the sublime The Heart Watches While the Brain Burns last year via PledgeMusic.
While his music recalls acts like Mountain Goats, Matt Pond PA, Rogue Wave and Spoon, Doughty’s style is more varied, inventive but no less catchy. We caught up with Doughty and asked him to answer our Ten Questions survey. Here’s what he said:
1. What is your favorite album?
Mike Doughty: What a question! I think the album that changed my life that I’ve been listening to most often of late has been Tom Waits’ Rain Dogs.
2. What is your least favorite song?
“Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandmother’s House We Go.” I mean, to hell with that song.
3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?
Surprises — when the other musicians on stage do something fascinating and new during the show.
4. What do you hate about being in a band?
When you go back to the hotel and there’s no Law and Order of any variety on any channel.
5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?
6. In what city or town do you love to perform?
7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?
I had a terrible show in Amherst, Ohio, in a yoga studio. I don’t know why I was playing a yoga studio. But there were drunks that couldn’t stop babbling in the middle of this very intimate quiet show, and the yoga queen who ran the joint was a total control hippie.
8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?
Yes. I started being able to not have a job in about 1994.
9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?
I’d like to write long-form fiction one day. I worked in a McDonald’s when I was 16 and it was incredibly dehumanizing.
10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?
I don’t know if I have stories. My best memory is walking from a hotel room to the tour bus on a cold, clear night, and seeing the Woodmen building looming majestically in the distance.
Mike Doughty performs with Wheatus Wednesday, Feb. 15, at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. Tickets are $17. Showtime is 8 p.m. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com.