Mike Doughty takes questions from the audience on current tour

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:: Mike Doughty :::: Trilogy Lounge :: December 5

Mike Doughty

by Timothy Dwenger

This fall, the former Soul Coughing front man and lyricist, Mike Doughty has opted to forgo the big rooms, and his privacy, in favor of a cross country tour of some of the smallest, most intimate rooms and a jar of questions.

“The powers that be asked me if I wanted to do a tour and I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s book small venues and do a question jar.’ I just came up with it on the spur of the moment, having never tried it. Thank God it actually works,” Doughty told The Marquee in a recent interview as he prepared for a home-town show at Joe’s Pub in New York City.

“The format of the question jar show is we play songs and between songs the audience puts questions in a jar and we pull them out and answer them, you know, mostly honestly,” he said. “If the question is, for example, ‘Would you rather be an oak tree or the ocean,’ that would get more of a facetious answer than a direct question of a factual nature.”

While the format of the tour has led to some strange questions it has also led to moments of self disclosure. “In Chicago somebody asked how much money I make and I was like, ‘I’ll say if you say,'” he said. “I then proceed to go to the front row and ask what everybody made and they all said it so I really felt I had to answer the question. I told them honestly, my hand was forced.”^M

The ‘we’ that Doughty is referring to is himself and his partner in crime for the Question Jar Tour, guitarist and cellist, Andrew “Scrap” Livingston. The two take turns reading the questions during the show and both are involved with answering them. “Scrap is a genius and a man of very surreal thoughts, so his commentary during the shows has been pretty funny and spectacular,” Doughty said.^MLivingston is also a part of Doughty’s full band and it is that band that recently led him to head back to the studio to record the follow-up to 2005’s Haughty Melodic. “I was really psyched about the way my band sounded on the road, so we just went into the studio and tracked the album live,” Doughty said. “Haughty Melodic was made in the same room with the same producer, Dan Wilson, and it was much more of a layered wall of sound kind of project with huge arrangements. This album is just really spacious and tight.”^M

The album, Golden Delicious, will be out in early 2008 and features a full band, studio treatment of the live staple, “27 Jennifers.” The song, which dates back as far as his 2002 live release Smofe + Smang: Live in Minneapolis, started out life as “Lisa Ling and Lucy Liu” before he revamped it and released it on 2003’s Rockity Roll. “The Rockity Roll version was just me and a drum machine,” said Doughty. “It’s a song that has been around for a while and it finally found a real life. Dan and I had some ideas for making it a little groovier and I dug playing it with the band. We just got a really good vibe on it and it felt like the right thing to do.”^M

Another song that really stands out to Doughty from the album is a new track called “Fort Hood.” “It is an anti-war song and it is named after the base in Texas that has suffered the most casualties in the war. I don’t write a lot of political songs but this one just kinda fell out of my mouth as I was working on it,” he said. “I visited Walter Reid Army Hospital in D.C. about a year ago and I met a lot of kids that had their legs blown off,” he said as he related the story of the genesis of the song. “My dad was in the Army in the post-Vietnam era so I know a little something about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. More than the tragedy of what is going on in the war itself, I am really frightened by what is going on in the minds of these kids and how emotionally it is just going to linger in them for the rest of their lives. We are not in a society that is very proactive about mental health so, God only knows.” ^M

Politics aside, Doughty is clearly very excited about the album, but possibly more excited about the prospect of touring with his full band in the spring. “I am really focused on the tour that is coming up. It will probably start in February or March, right after the album comes out, so that is the next big whale to harpoon,” he said. ^M

In the meantime, Doughty continues his trek around the country answering questions from the jar and playing stripped down, largely acoustic versions of his songs for intimate venues.

:: Mike Doughty :::: Trilogy Lounge :: December 5

:::: Hodi’s Half Note :: December 6 ::

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