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Repertoire grows for Doughty.

Byline: LEWIS TAYLOR The Register-Guard

Mike Doughty doesn't just perform solo these days; he also drives himself from gig to gig, acts as his own manager and even works the merchandise stand after the show.

"I'd do the sound, too, if I could," Doughty joked during a phone interview from his home in New York City. "The only reason I could see to bring someone else out with me would be to have someone to cover for me for 10 minutes so I could sell stuff during the show."

Doughty, the former leader of the rock band Soul Coughing, comes to the Wild Duck today for an early, seated performance.

Although Doughty has been performing without his former bandmates since Soul Coughing split up in March 2000, he has yet to release a "proper solo album," as he calls it. He is still selling copies of "Skittish," a patchwork solo recording from 1996 that was released only after it was accidentally leaked to Napster. A new live album, "Smofe + Smang," is set to be released this summer.

"I think the real reason I didn't put out a record is I didn't think I had it in me," Doughty said. "The moment I got out of Soul Coughing, I got a bunch of offers, but you don't want to sign with a record company unless everybody is super into it."

Now, after two years of going solo, Doughty says he finally does have a solo album in him. He has begun the process of journaling, pre-writing and coming up with the beats and chords that serve as the basis for his songs. The difference this time, he says, is that he actually likes the songs he's coming up with.

`I used to say, `This song, I just like the chorus,' `This song, I just like the verse,' and before I knew it, I've gone from like 20 to four songs,' Doughty said. "Now I have, like, 18 songs. I really have a record."

"El Oso" was the final record Doughty released with Soul Coughing. The group had achieved moderate radio success with the singles "Super Bon Bon" and "Circles." The stream-of- consciousness lyrics and the presence of an upright bass gave the band a distinctive sound; Doughty, a former rock critic for the New York Press, dubbed the music "deep slacker jazz."

Ultimately, Doughty said, Soul Coughing simply ran its course and found itself with no other option but to split up. Although the group's parting was amicable, Doughty is no longer in contact with his former bandmates.

Earlier this year, Rhino Records released "Lust in Phaze: The Best of Soul Coughing," a retrospective that put to rest all rumors of a reunion.

"We spent eight years in each other's business," Doughty said. "It was long enough."

Lifestyle was also a factor in the breakup of Soul Coughing. Once the band was finished, Doughty was able to kick a longtime heroin addiction. Now hooked only on coffee and "looking at girls," he finds himself becoming, of all things, a morning person.

"I get up pretty early, but I'm pretty much always doing music," Doughty said. "Live music in New York has, apparently, gotten really interesting in the past year, so I'm trying to go out more."

Also a poet and a writer, Doughty has other things to keep him occupied. His independently published book of poetry, "Slanky," is being reprinted by Soft Skull Press. Doughty says he signed on with the independent publisher after he saw several dozen Soft Skull books on the shelves at Tsunami Books in Eugene, during his last visit to town a year ago.

Doughty also regularly tends to his Web page (www. superspecialquestions.com), a bizarre site that features, among other things, dozens of anagrams for Michael Doughty (`Hey I am cold thug'), and allows fans to ask such questions as "Who is David Blair?" (Answer: America's most beloved gay, black, folk- singing autoworker, and the basis for the song "Looks").

Doughty's presence on the Web assures that he is the subject of many an Internet rumor. His favorite one, he says, is the belief that he has only one testicle.

"I thought that was just brilliant because no one will ever be able to confirm it," Doughty said. "And, if I deny it like I'm doing now, people will just think I'm denying it because it's true."

When he's not busy putting out Internet rumors, Doughty can be found collaborating with They Might Be Giants or with house producer BT. He also recently completed songs for the soundtrack to "Evenhand," an independent film directed by Joseph Pierson.

"It's the first time I've done anything like that," Doughty said. "They sent me parts of the film and I specifically wrote something that went with it. I got four songs that I wouldn't have gotten anywhere else."

Doughty's songs have become more focused since he left the more jam-oriented Soul Coughing. His music, which has been called everything from funk-inspired beat music to "small rock," sounds even more distinct now that it's just him and his guitar.

`When I first went out as a soloist, I only did stuff from `Skittish,' ' Doughty recalled.

`Then I only did songs from Soul Coughing. As time has passed, I've really developed an audience that's my own.

`I might open with something from Soul Coughing, play some new songs, some songs from `Skittish' and then play some more Soul Coughing. The repertoire keeps growing.'

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Mike Doughty Solo soul cougher
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Title Annotation:Entertainment
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jun 21, 2002
Words:920
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