A longtime successful solo artist, Mike Doughty’s past as the frontman of 90’s alt band Soul Coughing has always loomed in the background. Now on his own label, Doughty has revisited several songs of his past.
Given the volatile nature of the band, it’s surprising that he wanted to revisit Soul Coughing's catalog. There’s a catch a though. Doughty wanted to reclaim the material and play the songs the way he wanted them to sound. Letting fans hear the songs the way they would have been if he had full creative control.
The end result is stripped down and free of the more wheeling avant-garde sounds that were layered in the originals. In wry Doughty fashion, it's also an album whose title is the entire track listing - all thirteen of them.
For brevity’s sake, you’ll find that it’s been shortened to Circles Super Bon Bon.
Were there Soul Coughing songs that were perfect, but didn’t work later in the studio?
“Not really. I think we nailed everything that we tried. I just sort of picked them on the basis of what I was interested in at the time. Try and let the ineffable take over and to not make any conscious choices.”
You took audience questions during a recent tour; where did that come from?
“They were just super weird questions. It very much felt like a collaboration with the audience and this surreal-ness. ‘Would you rather punch a kitten in a face or play Twister with Dick Cheney?’ is the perennial favorite. I don’t want to punch a kitten. I would choose… I wouldn’t like playing Twister with Dick Cheney, but I certainly would not want to punch a kitten.”
Extending that collaboration, didn’t you crowdsource the funding for this album?
“It’s a real joy when your listeners really feel part of a team. Obviously there was stuff they got on a bunch of different levels. It really felt like people were joining a cause. It was beautiful.”