Interviewed by Barry Sanders
There is something special about being a fan of a band or musician with a cult following: you get all the excitement of being star-stuck but it’s excitement wrapped in nifty packaging that only a few can appreciate.
Mike Doughty qualifies twice over. First, as the lead singer of Soul Coughing through the 90s, and now as a prolific solo artist.
It’s not often that a fan like me gets assigned the job of interviewing the object of their fandom. I spoke with Mike on his bus in Toronto as he was touring for his new album, Golden Delicious.
Popshifter: I’m a fan, and I know you’ve got a really loyal fanbase. One thing I’ve noticed is that not only can your fans quote your lyrics, they can quote your stage patter.
Mike Doughty: They quote a lot of stuff off live records that I’ve literally printed only 2,500 copies of. It’s impossible that all the people that know this stuff are the people that bought it, because you just hear it too often. So I guess it got either bootlegged or it’s oral tradition at work, you know?
Popshifter: And that’s Smofe + Smang.
Mike Doughty: Smofe + Smang, exactly, yeah.
Popshifter: What do you think of that? Everybody bootlegging it after the fact?
Mike Doughty: Oh, I don’t mind. I just think it’s like trying to hold back the ocean. It’s just the deal. I mean it’s good for me because I have an audience. It’s not great for the people who don’t have an audience yet. But for me, it’s the more the merrier.
Popshifter: That leads me into another question: digital downloads. You put this album out on iTunes, you put out The Gambler only on iTunes as an EP, but you’ve done two Bonnaroo shows and put those out through your store, no iTunes, digital rights-free. Talk about the difference between doing something with rights-management and without: what are your thoughts on that?
Mike Doughty: It’s specific to whatever company I’m doing it with. The MusicToday stuff, which is the Bonnaroo downloads, that’s how they do things. iTunes. . . I wish they were DRM [digital rights management] free, but. . . I don’t know if I was given the option: do you actually pay more for some downloads? Do you pay 30 cents more and. . .
Popshifter: Yeah, iTunes has “iTunes Plus” and it also goes country-by-country. You might have iTunes Plus available in the States, but not here in Canada. The Gambler EP wasn’t available here for the last three years.
Mike Doughty: Really? You’re kidding!
Popshifter: You couldn’t buy it on the Canadian iTunes store and we can’t buy it from the American iTunes store. So we’re stuck.
Mike Doughty: I’m always trying to look stuff up in Germany; I’m really into weird German New Wave music and I’m always listening to the samples on iTunes Germany.
Popshifter: . . . and you wanna buy it.
Mike Doughty: Yeah, exactly. So the next time I’m over there, I may set up a bank account with just like, 100 Euros in it so I can buy the 12 odd MP3s I wanna buy.
Click to read more from Mike Doughty on. . .
Song development and self-plagiarism
Words and war
Politics and parameters of the new album
Scrap, Pete, & John and “Small Rock”
Secret codes and Scott Wynn from The Panderers
The Rock Star Echelon and retirement plans