Sep 28, 05 09:47 PM
Pixxxx from the D.C. Gig.
These ganked from listener Meagan.
Posted by Mike at 9:47 PM
Sep 26, 05 10:50 PM
Pixxx from Austin City Limits.
These were ganked from listener Julia Holcomb, who can be found at http://www.myspace.com/streamlinedeco.
The last photo is Scrap actually caught in the midst of a Scrap fact.
Hi from Tucson.
Posted by Mike at 10:50 PM
What I Did in Van Horn.
Sun-soaked and desolate and gorgeous place.
I took a long walk down the access road to what you might call Metropolitan Van Horn. Lots of burnt-out trailers and houses, and sun-bleached old signs for laundromats and beauty salons. There was a folk-art dude's place; he does copies of Van Goghs and ersatz Van-Gogh-style portraits, the subjects with long warped faces.
I ate my yearly dose of McDonalds.
We had this old shitty guitar sitting on the bus; its neck had a long diagonal crack. We took it out to the access road right before midnight, when the bus was due for the overdrive to Tucson, and took turns trying to smash it on the asphalt. We each put in a buck, the guy who got the neck to split from the body got the $5 pot.
Nobody succeeded in splitting the neck off, but we beat the shit out of the thing. Somebody called the police, and a state trooper's Crown Vic cruiser crept up on us with the lights out.
The cop looked about 19, with rosy cheeks. "What are you guys doing?"
"We're smashing a guitar," I said.
Sep 25, 05 02:15 PM
Howdy from Van Horn, TX.
(The foto above is another one ganked from listener Devin Grant.)
We drove out of Austin after Oasis finished their set, and now we're halfway to Tucson. The driver has stopped at a Holiday Inn in Van Horn, and so we wait until midnight to drive the rest of the way. It's a desolate landscape with scrubby hills in the distance. Very strange to wake up here, it makes me feel mysteriously contented.
Chuck is glued to his Packer game on the bus' satellite TV, and I'm emailling/posting/surfing like a fiend. I woke up at 11 am today. Have I talked to you about this? I keep waking up at 11 fucking am, that's like absurd for me, the usual scene is that if I sleep 'til 9 I feel like I'm sleeping late like some kind of decadent pasha.
Pete McNeal and Handsome Dan, on the other hand, are still asleep as I type this.
We're about 73 miles from Marfa, where the sculptor Donald Judd converted an abandoned army base into a sculpture park, with massive, austere works by himself and Dan Flavin. I've always wanted to go there. I really would hire a cab to get there, but the front desk at the Holiday Inn says of Van Horn, "We don't have cabs here."
So. At least they have Wi-Fi. Or wiffy, as we call it on the bus. As differentiated from Scrap's wife, whom he calls The Wif.
Posted by Mike at 2:15 PM
Oustin' in Austin.
OK, no actual ousting, but it makes a lovely phrase, yeah?
Let's get the bad news out of the way first. I did not get to the Salt Lick. I did not get to the Iron Works. There were no ribs for Mikey.
And I slept through Bloc Party, the Fiery Furnaces, and Def Cab. Reports from Chuck and Handsome Dan state unequivocally that Bloc Party is actually good.
I was sad yesterday for some reason. I don't know why. I was lonely.
The good part = the show. I love doing these one hour, hit 'em and quit 'em, slam-pow gigs. It's really our forté. We played the show short, too; I skipped out of doing a little Skittish-y solo bit show-within-the-show, but I realized after we got offstage that we would've had time for it.
It's all about my drummer, Pete McNeal. I mean, it is all about Pete McNeal, the guy is a fierce talent. What a force he is onstage. I laid out the stage plot in such a way that he's parallel with me at the front of the stage, rather than in the back. For one thing, he's amazing to watch, and I want the crowd to get a real good look at him in action. For another thing, I want to watch him!
Best drummer I've played with since Yuval Gabay, and I auditioned a shitload of dudes before hiring him. He's very different from Yuval in a number of ways. Yuval's strength was that he was a machine. He was the first guy I ever heard, circa 1992, who could do hiphop beats that sounded like hiphop; he was the first guy I know of who understood that doing hiphop meant getting the sounds right, not just the actual beats.
There was a downside to it, though; he wasn't a very sensitive player. Our bass player Sebastian spent the first couple of years of Soul Coughing wanting to quit the fucking band because Yuval just did not respond to what anybody else was doing; the mountain always had to come to Mohammed. He was also ridiculously loud. The upright bass was constantly feeding back; when the drums are like that, a big old hollow bass becomes like a gigantic kick drum mic. It was a huge, huge frustration for all the non-drummers for the life of the band.
Pete is all about grace. He's also much more musical than Yuval. He gets the sounds right, can sound like a breakbeat, but he always locates himself within the song, rather than making the song have to find a balance on top of him.
And he rocks like fuck. I love looking over at him as we play; he's so fierce and fantastic. He sounds huge and ferocious even though he's not pushing for pure volume and force as a player. I think that a band really is the drummer. Hence, I have an awesome fucking band. We rocked the bejesus out of Austin.
Posted by Mike at 1:47 PM
The Phallus of Dallas.
(That's what Scrap, a Dallas native, calls the Reunion Tower.)
Gypsy Tea Room, in Deep Ellum. Small crowd, but feisty; after the show I found out that like 20 of them had driven down from Tulsa. Note to self: play Oklahoma.
The last time I played there, my then-drummer Shahzad responded to drunk dudes who wanted more after the encore by playing a drum solo. He's kind of an odd duck. I was pissed. And this seemed to baffle him; he did it totally innocently, not realizing that it was in any way out of bounds.
It was weirdly quiet in Deep Ellum; hurricane. There were families staying in their cars in public parking lots just on the other side of the interstate. Scrap's sister was driving out of Houston along with a gigantic jammed throng of evacuees: she left at 6:30 am, and when Scrap talked to her at 8 pm she had yet to leave the Houston city limits.
We spent the day tracking the hurricane. Would it hit Austin? Would ACL be cancelled? Would we be hotfooting it moments after the Gypsy Tea Room gig to Arizona?
Posted by Mike at 10:00 AM
Sep 23, 05 04:24 PM
It's John Coltrane's Birthday.
Hi from Dallas.Posted by Mike at 4:24 PM
Sep 22, 05 01:41 PM
The fellaz call me Thode. I don't know why. OK, I lied, I know why. It's not dirty, I promise. Hi from Dallas.Posted by Mike at 1:41 PM
Sep 21, 05 05:16 PM
Foto from the Charleston Gig.
Ganked, with thanks, from Devin Grant.Posted by Mike at 5:16 PM
Sep 20, 05 12:01 AM
The Boys from Bob Jones.
The guys who handled the email list in Charleston were students at Bob Jones University.
Wow, isn't that a fundamentalist Christian school? Yep, they said.
Man. I want to be pro-Christian; outside of the morality stuff I can really identify with the spiritual consciousness (though I don't subscribe to any kind of organized belief myself). I get lots of emails asking if I'm a Christian due to "His Truth Is Marching On"; I have hoped that some born-agains would identify with the tune.
But these guys weren't Christians. They were there because their parents made them go there. They told me that if the school's administrators found out they were at my show they'd be kicked out of school. They told me that kids whose parents taught at the school were obliged to go to the school, or else their parents would lose their jobs.
They told me a story about a guy who managed to get out of there because he wanted to study oceanography, and Bob Jones doesn't have an oceanography department. Still, they said there were weeks and weeks of committee upon committee grilling the poor guy to make sure he wasn't trying to slide out for ideological reasons. Which, of course, he actually was.
They told me about "supervised dating," and girls not being allowed to leave campus unattended by a chaperone, and all kinds of fucked-up shit. My God.
I sure was glad to see them at my gig. The funny thing about the email list people is that they always want to talk about me, and all kinds of shit that's really kind of run-of-the-mill for me. I've learned to be inquisitive, to be an interviewer, to ask people about what's going on with their lives. In the case of these guys: man, what a payoff!
This one time I had a fascinating conversation with an economist who was moving to Japan to study real estate there. As she left she became embarrassed that the whole conversation was about her, and not me. "I should have asked you about--I don't know--when the Evenhand DVD was coming out!"
Posted by Mike at 12:01 AM
Sep 19, 05 11:44 PM
It kinda blew my mind.
I've never meant shit in South Carolina--I've never meant shit in the Deep South in general. But. The place was packed--nearly as many people as Boston and D.C.?!--and everybody knew the words to the songs from Haughty Melodic, and everybody was dancing, and everybody got off. Unbelievable. Completely out of nowhere. I guess this record is having a life out there in the world, huh?Posted by Mike at 11:44 PM
Like we had eaten mass quantities of noodles and cake prior to taking the stage.
Very relaxed and groovy (as Eddie Izzard once said about Jesus). It was a vest-and-slippers kind of a set. At last I'm getting the hang of the in-ears, so I heard everything, and felt the warmth of the band and the crowd, and was completely connected to the experience.
Our merch girl for the evening was named Darla Jean and naturally she had a thick Tennessee accent. She had recently spent some months in London hanging out with luminaries of the breakbeat scene, all of whom were totally enthralled with her and her exotic voice.Posted by Mike at 11:39 PM
The Tao of Scrap.
As you may already know, Scrap has a daughter named Larry.
Scrap is mistakenly considered by many to be a solemn dude, based on his onstage demeanor. This is one reason we've instituted the "Scrap Fact" segment of the show, to debunk this.
If there is a moment of silence, Scrap will say, in his charming Texan drawl, that he loves something. "I love trees," or "I love fenceposts," or "I love C-Span."
I bought Scrap a pair of maracas from Ecuador with crudely-carved Spiderman heads on them. We have in the past done a version of "F Train" with Scrap playing the Spiderman maracas. Though we haven't done it in a month or two, he has the Spiderman maracas on his person at almost all times.
Scrap is prone to expressing enthusiasm by saying, for instance, "This doughnut is right in the eyes of the Lord!"
Scrap does a dance called "dishing out the sausage." It is in no way suggestive; it actually looks like a guy non-euphemistically dishing out non-euphemistic sausage.
Posted by Mike at 11:35 PM
Journalists: Just Let 'Em Be, OK?
I had a minor relapse the other day.
Some dude wrote a shitty review of a show that I thought was really happening; he just beat the piss out of us. Really hated it. Actually, he seemed to hate everything I had ever done in my entire career; he called Soul Coughing "lite rap" and the show "meaningless," "middle of the road," "declawed funk," and invoked Dave Matthews as if that were damning in and of itself.
So I wrote a letter to the editor; like, can a dude with a voice as weird as mine, whose hit single contains the word "decathecting," really be considered middle of the road? I need to check out this road he's been hanging out on; it sounds pretty happening.
And I called him out for getting a song title wrong (he called "Your Misfortune" "Stand in the Light," I guess because that's the most repeated phrase in the tune), which annoys the hell out of me. Even if you think I'm a piece of shit, look at the back of the fucking CD, could you?
I don't think the paper ran it. And thank God they didn't. I feel like shit after I do that; for one thing, why bother? For another, if I object to a critic being gratuitously cruel, what good does it do me to be mean right back at him? How hypocritical, how petty.
At the NYPress, I wrote tons of mean shit about critics that wrote mean shit about me. And, actually, some mean shit about critics that wrote nice things about me. I was just angry at critics. Well, actually I was really just angry at everything. I really regret it. I want to systematically contact all the writers I was shitty to, and tell them I regret it. Really, honestly I do. I think it might make me feel better.
Posted by Mike at 12:00 AM
Sep 15, 05 01:26 PM
We're a Bus.
Hello from the parking lot of a Best Western in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Sitting on the bus with coffee typing to you.
One of my favorite bits of tour lingo is when the bus driver comes on and asks the tour manager, "Are we a bus?" He means: is everybody on board. The answer: "We're a bus."
Good show in D.C. last night. I'm still getting adjusted to these in-ear monitors I've been wearing--everything sounds crystal fucking clear, but I feel a little disconnected from the room. 930 club's one of the great joys of the American road. Such a fantastic venue. Up in the dressing room they've got this tiered bunk-bed looking thing; I always think that this is a display of their DC punk roots, that they've devised this system so that they can accomodate three sleeping hardcore bands at once.
Big spark of yelling and excitement from the crowd at the little chimey three-repeating-note intro to "Looking at the World," so I guess it's officially The Hit.
Posted by Mike at 1:26 PM
Tigrinya Speakers, Hear My Plea.
Is this word--pronounced "Moo-See-Khan-Ya" in Amharic--the same word in Tigrinya? In Columbus the other day, this Ethiopian cab driver who hailed from Axum (ie, a native Tigrinya speaker) told me that it's the same word. (He also told me that Bob Marley had a small tat of the exact same word on his leg, and that having any Ge'ez script on your body was a blessing) Is this so?Posted by Mike at 1:15 PM
Sep 14, 05 01:07 AM
I, Too, Am Herbstreit.
Here are pictures of all of us wearing Kirk Herbstreit masks.
I have no idea who Kirk Herbstreit actually is. I'm guessing an Ohio football player. They were giving them away to passersby as we drove from Columbus to that awful Denison gig.
Posted by Mike at 1:07 AM
Sep 13, 05 12:18 AM
We Rock Horthnampton.
Man, we were good tonight.
We played the Pearl Street in Northampton, Mass.; it was hot and sweaty; people were dancing. We were KILLING IT.
I love Northampton and everything, but the Pearl Street is a wretched-sounding room. Handsome Dan told me he couldn't hear me at all; Scrap told me he had to watch my lips to figure out where the cues were. The sad part to me is that the Iron Horse, just a couple blocks away, and run by the same dudes, is one of my favorite East Coast venues. But--so it goes.
Cee-Huck hooked up these in-ear monitor things for me; little earplug/headphones that are made from foam injected into your ears. You have a little battery pack/transmitter on your belt, and the wire runs down your back beneath your shirt. It takes a little getting used to; initially one feels really cut off from the world. But I've had a few shows, and figured out the correct mix and balance, and generally gotten used to them, so I'm quite happy. You can hear EVERYTHING, clear as a bell.
I walk up to Scrap after the show and say, "My friend, I can tell you for certain that I was THE ONLY DUDE in the entire venue, onstage and off, that could tell how awesome everybody sounded tonight."
Posted by Mike at 12:18 AM
The Road, She Is Like a Lady; Sometimes She Is HOT; Sometimes She Is SO COLD.
Yeah, Yeah, I know I've been remiss in blogging. Shit is hectic out here on the road. And it's a bitch to seek out Wi-Fi. Oy.
Man, I've been having fun out here. I love my band. Love 'em. We get better every gig; by the time we play the New York Webster Hall show in October, we will kill people.
The bus life is fun, as well; sleeping in a little cubby, waking up as we're driving to the next city. Pete making coffee in the front lounge. XM has a channel that's all throwback hiphop music--Heavy D! Showbiz and AZ! Jeru the Damaja! And there's a DVD player; I just saw The Big Lebowski for the first time ever in my whole entire life last night, can you believe that?
(The Dought abides. Sorry, been dying to type that)
The great luxury of it is that if one has a radio appearance (and oh man do I have a lot of 'em), rather than waking up at 7 and getting in a van and sort out some caffeine and then drive to make it by 9:30 am so Cee-Huck can set up the instruments and we can play at 10, the bus rolls up to the place and we wake up and walk right in there with coffee in hand. It's unbelievable.
These pixx are from the Burlington UVM gig; it's an art car that was parked out by the bus. Some horrible girl came up to me and started telling me how she didn't like how Haughty Melodic was produced, and therefore I made a mistake and she has great ideas about how to make my music better and hence to promote World Peace. I told her she was rude and got the hell out of there. I don't know if the car's owner meant for strangers to come up and shift the tiles around, but these are poetic fragments that Scrap and I came up with.
Posted by Mike at 12:09 AM
Sep 12, 05 11:53 PM
The Weirdest Gig of My Whole Entire Life.
We flew out from Burlington to do a one-off at Denison College in Ohio.
They offered me a SHITLOAD of dough to do it. So, Pete and Chuck and I flew out mid-tour to do it as a little duo date. Sounded fun, I hadn't done a duo show with Pete before, and why not pay the rent? Touring in a bus is fucking expensive, man.
So. We get there. It's some kind of welcome-back-to-school mixer. They're holding it on top of a parking garage, which is covered with grass. Our little stage is on one end, and on the other side there were rides and inflatable something-or-others; a spin-the-bike-upside-down jammy, and an inflatable obstacle course, an inflatable stick-battle rock 'em sock 'em thing.
Our opening act was an escape artist. We watched from the window of our dressing room as he removed himself from chains, sacks, and straitjackets. They served a WRETCHED Chinese buffet. I mean, it was bizarrely horrible. Cee-Huck said it was kind of like a Midwestern Mom attempting Chinese cuisine, but I feel that's a horrible insult to Midwestern Moms.
OK. So. There was NOBODY WATCHING. Well, OK; three people. Literally. Sitting on the grass looking at us. Everybody else was in the back on the inflatable jammies and the bike ride. Like, two or three hundred of 'em. We finished the first song and there was no applause. It was surreal.
The crowd peaked at eight people, some of whom danced goofily for our amusement. Eventually the sun went down, and the ride-riders went home, and it was just us and our eight friends. Bright side: SO much fun to rock it with Pete. I adore Pete. And we sold two CDs. Yeah.
Posted by Mike at 11:53 PM
Here Is a Picture of Pete McNeal on the Bus with Fantastic Bedhead
Yeah!Posted by Mike at 11:41 PM
Sep 8, 05 08:30 AM
I Prefer Kaboom.
I heard that there's some kind of discussion of me in Chuck Klosterman's new book. Anybody read it? Do he like me?
I wrote all kinds of mean, vindictive shit about rock critics, right after I got clean and was full of rageful energy that I didn't know what to do with. I regret it. So, I'm cringing.Posted by Mike at 8:30 AM
Sep 7, 05 07:48 AM
Proof, Meet Pudding.
This here is a link to a recording of Daniel Handler aka Lemony Snicket, Death Cab for Cutie, and I covering Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf.">Posted by Mike at 7:48 AM
Sep 4, 05 12:41 PM
This Will Freak You Out.
Last night, at an opera house in Seattle, Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), Death Cab for Cutie, and I rocked a version of Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf" together.
Awesome show. We raised $18,000 for 826 Seattle. Daniel Handler is a hell of an accordion player; in addition to "Wolf" we did "Move On" together, the first time I've played that tune I think literally since November 1, 2004. Daniel did a fake quiz show onstage in which one of the questions was, What's Mike Doughty's favorite David Bowie album? (it's Hunky Dory). Sara Vowell did a long tale of the history of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," for which Def Cab did periodic musical examples. (very very interesting to me, as I know nothing about it, other than ganking the lyric "His truth is marching on" for my own symbolic purposes) Def Cab did a brief rendition of the "Entertainment Tonight" theme. Dave Eggers, accompanied by Def Cabber Ben, read a long epistle, purported to have been written by a dog named Steve.
Portraits of myself and fellow performers are as follows. Above: Daniel aka Lemony. Below: Dave Eggers; Def Cabbers Ben, Nick, and Jason; Sara Vowell; Def Cabber Chris.
Posted by Mike at 12:41 PM
Sep 1, 05 12:38 PM
I Am a Terrible Man Who Tells Terrible Lies.
I swore I would not blog. And yet: I blog. You knew it was coming, didn't you? Didn't you?
Also: though I'm billed as doing spoken word at this Bumbershoot Dave Eggers/Sara Vowell reading in Seattle on Saturday, I will actually be playing some tunes. Maybe I'll read an Alan Dugan poem. But mostly: tunes.
Posted by Mike at 12:38 PM
In Praise of Puddux.
Which is how I prounce "PDX," the airport code for Portland, Oregon, and a common nickname for the town. Other aliases: the City of Roses, and Stumptown. Stumptown?
I type this to you from a coffee place in North Portland, where a gorgeous barista is salsa-dancing to the Ibrahim Ferrer tune "El Cuarto de Tula." The coffeehouses alone make PDX a stellar town. For one thing: the coffee. Amazing. And all the baristas seem to know how to make that elegant leaf-pattern on the surface of the milk in your cup.
For another thing: the music. Everywhere I've been, I hear something beautiful and unfamiliar, and turn to Mike McGonigal, my host, and say, "What's this? What's this?" I adore New York, but you don't get that there. You get a lot of 80s goth stuff, really, which is the chic thing to be playing in your coffeehouse in New York these days.
The day before yesterday we were in a sandwich shop. A patron loped over to the turntable and put on an LP of French girl singers from the 60s. Which is just the hippest thing I've ever seen in a sandwich shop. Also, they serve a lentil-bacon soup. Lentilly! Bacony!
Then we went to a place called Voodoo Doughnuts. Another turntable, scratching away in the corner. One of Mike's roommates told me they hold midnight Swahili classes. Midnight Swahili classes.
Powell's, the famous gigantic book store downtown on Burnside, did not have the Tigrinyan-to-English dictionary I'm looking for. But they had a full three shelves of books in Esperanto. Three shelves of books in Esperanto.
Mike took me to a strip club called the Magic Gardens. Strip clubs are chic here; it's not an accident that Portland is the birthplace of the SuicideGirls. Hence, there were heterosexual women among the patrons, drinking PBR and shooting pool. Onstage tattooed ladies writhed to choice indie-rock and oddball 60s selections. Again, I'm turning constantly to McGonigal, "What's this? What's this?" I mean, girls stripping to the Gossip, Le Tigre, Iron and Wine. Girls stripping to Iron and Wine.
McGonigal has a distinctive high-pitched laugh I call the McGonigiggle.
Mike lives with a family with two kids; their three year old, Saylor, is obsessed with a DVD of garbage trucks and tractors called "Mighty Machines," with a fabulous theme song. The other day, he was at the breakfast table, saying over and over again, "Baaaaaacon. BACON! Bacon. BAAAACON! Bacon!"
So I've been driving around this magical town. It's been sunny and gorgeous--McGonigal warns me not to move her 'til I've visited in the rainy wintertime. But I'm half-convinced on moving. Really.
I love New York, but--have I done my bid?
Posted by Mike at 12:34 PM
Mama You Got to Move.
The Led Zeppelin tune "When the Levee Breaks"--a song that scared the hell out of me as a twelve year old obsessed with Led Zeppelin IV--is all the more surreal and menacing.
My initial thought, when Katrina was a tropical storm about to brush Miami, was a the player-hater's notion that I hoped it made the VMAs soggy.
The guys in Galactic have in the past tried to convince me to move to New Orleans. Some of those guys own multiple homes in the Marigny which they've fixed up and rent out to people.
Just a couple of days ago I was corresponding on MySpace with a girl named Cree who was telling me where to get Beignets and Cajun food when I came through in a couple weeks for a gig at One-Eyed Jacks.
My cousin Kim, a nurse in Jena, Louisiana, has been sending periodic updates. Katrina didn't do much to her area, but she tells of thousands of fleeing New Orleansese passing through, looking for food and shelter, streaming into her hospital in search of care. She just heard a rumor at her workplace of another hospital, in New Orleans, being commandeered by an armed mob.
Posted by Mike at 12:15 PM