Mike Doughty is a busy man. There’s the electronic/samples Dubious Luxury record which was released in early August, a new solo album due this week, and then the highly anticipated book due early next year. Mr. Doughty recently answered some burning questions that Popblerd! had about the book, the albums, label changes and some interesting musical collaborators . Keep reading to see if some of your questions were answered, too!
1. With a new album, book, and tour coming up, it seems like it’s going to be a banner year for Mike Doughty. Was it planned that all these releases would come out around the same time or just a lucky coincidence?
It is a coincidence, but I don’t know that it’s necessarily lucky. People I work with, managers and publishers and the like, are stoked that I can do a big omnibus promotional push, but for me, I like each piece of work to have its little moment, instead of being thrown into a cornucopia. For instance, I put out that electronic/weird-samples/chopped-up vocals album “Dubious Luxury” in early August, and all I could do was just kind of lob it out there. Of course, it’s easier in the internet age, because there can be a little more of a something to generate some word of mouth. Before email mailing lists/Twitter/Facebook/blogging, you’d have to go to the newspapers, magazines, and radio, and you just couldn’t show up every two weeks with a new thing, and expect them to help you get the word out.
2. I’ve heard rumblings of a book from you for quite some time, how long has the book actually been in the works?
Maybe two years? I wrote about 50 pages, sent it to Ben Schaffer at Da Capo/Perseus, and then promptly quit writing–explicitly, to wait until Ben called to breathe down my neck. Then I jumped in and finished it in maybe four months.
3. Speaking of the book, what can fans expect? A journey into the psyche of Doughty? Scathing tell-all? Fictional sci-fi adventure? A collection of Haiku’s?
A memoir. Obviously, I don’t have a hard-won, view-from-afar perspective on my life. But I got a bunch of good stories. Tablespoon of drugs, teaspoon of sex. Garnished with the horror that was my relationship with my old band.
4. More importantly, when can we buy it?
Early 2012, January or February.
5. Yes And Also Yes has to be my favorite work of yours so far, as an artist approaching the release of his umpteenth solo album, how do you continue to keep the music you’re creating fresh and exciting to not only yourself but to your fans as well?
Wow, that’s awesome, that means a lot. Thank you. It’s a struggle to keep getting the songs heard–eventually people are like, “Oh, ho-hum, it’s that guy again.” Often pleasantly, but dismissively.
I just keep trying to make my favorite record. And usually succeeding. I mean that quite humbly, like, I can make myself my favorite sandwich.
I think that’s the heart of the matter for any artist. You have to create something that brings you joy. Not everybody in the world is gonna dig it, naturally, but to inspire, you have seek your own inspiration.
6. This will be your first album on Megaforce, how did that partnership come about and what happened with ATO?
Pretty much everybody I worked and hung out with at ATO left. Still very good folks, but they didn’t really have a relationship with me.
Also, as with all labels, more and more people are jetting, or getting the boot, so a small number of people now work with a big number of artists. You often have to expend a lot of energy to get people to do what you’d like them to do, to get the word out about the music.
Megaforce is partially a normal label, in the sense that there’s people in-house that do specific tasks, but they also allocate some marketing money that it’s your responsibility to spend wisely. You hire a dude to do a thing, instead of pestering somebody to work on your album, as opposed to another artist on the same label.
7. How did the duet with Rosanne Cash happen?
She said insanely nice things about my songwriting from the stage! It was at a WFUV Christmas show. She said, “I’m nervous playing my new songs, because Mike Doughty’s here, and he’s such a great songwriter.” So awesome.
I had a Christmas song I wrote with Dan Wilson, and there were some notes I couldn’t hit. I was going to just find a female singer to do backing vocals, but I went for broke, and called Rosanne.
Rosanne and I have also been co-writing songs together a little bit. Just a little bit.
8. When can we expect Yes And Also Yes?
August 30th! There’s a video for “Na Na Nothing” up here , animated by Yuliya Lanina.
9. Who are the Band Fantastic and will there be room on stage for the question jar?
Thus far, it’s Andrew “Scrap” Livingston on the electric bass guitar, and cello, and Handsome Dan Chen on electric piano, organ, and synthesizers. Still meeting some drummers.
10. Do you prefer playing with a full band or solo?
I think the deepest emotional experience I have playing music is when I play absolutely solo, to a fantastic audience, and the room is entirely silent other than the songs. That’s a very specific circumstance, though, not to say that, in general, I enjoy solo the most. There’s no telling which shows will be enjoyable. To commune with other musicians, to be inspired, absorbed, and surprised by their playing, is fantastic.
11. What would be your dream venue to play? Is it a location that already exists? Someone’s backyard or living room? Stadium?
I mean, headlining at Radio City, or the Hollywood Bowl, wouldn’t be bad. Red Rocks!
If somebody’s got a time machine, Max’s Kansas City would be splendid.
When I toured with Barenaked Ladies, I opened for them at Radio City, and my name was on the marquee! Such a dream come true. I was a skinny, stoned 19-year-old kid walking under that marquee all the time, on a long trudge home, because I couldn’t afford a subway token.
12. How has social media changed your fan interactions in 2011? Do you feel that sites like Twitter brings you closer to your fans or do you feel that social media takes away from your privacy?
Privacy hasn’t been a problem. Basically, my rather extensive web presence is due to an internet addiction. It’s not calculated. I do think my crowd digs, it, though, and that, in general, it’s great for artists to be available and interactive.
There’s one artist I know who has intensely great press, and her style is such that she would be a vicious writer of aphorisms–I mean, ideal for Twitter–but she just isn’t into it. It’s kind of a shame, but the thing is, faked tweeting, or begrudging tweeting, is kind of worse than not tweeting at all. If you’re not into it, don’t do it. I think it’s a great way to reach an audience, but, I mean, it’s not the utter absolute be-all, end-all.
13. My 3-year old absolutely loves “Na Na Nothing” and pleads with me to play it on repeat on the way to daycare in the morning so he can sing along. Do I have you to blame for the lyrical prowess within or is it Nikki Sixx, who co-wrote the song? How did that collaboration happen?
There’s no telling who wrote what in the top of the chorus, which is the part I ganked from Nikki Sixx’s song. Actually, he wrote it with Dan Wilson, dude who wrote “Closing Time”, and Matt Gerrard, who wrote songs for “High School Musical”. They were put together at a kind of shmancy songwriters’ camp. The title of that tune came from Nikki, which was “The Blind Date From Hell”, and NIKKI SIXX RAPS ON THE DEMO. He rhymes “smell” with “Taco Bell”, and “shady” with “Warren Beatty”. It’s a hoot. But, other than that one line, it’s highly different from my song, and I don’t know which of those dudes wrote that specific line.
Yes And Also Yes is in stores August 30th on Megaforce. You can catch Mr. Doughty and His Band Fantastic on tour this fall and check this space for the Yes And Also Yes review real soon (And maybe even one for Dubious Luxury).