There are two Mike Doughtys. There’s M. Doughty, who fronted the avant-rock act Soul Coughing during the ‘90s. That Doughty penned inscrutable lyrics sung or rapped over Soul Coughing’s twisted rock with a side of hip-hop and electronic. The band experienced some commercial success but the vocalist/guitarist /addict apparently didn’t enjoy a moment of his time in Soul Coughing.
And then there is Mike Doughty post-Soul Coughing. He is a confessional singer-songwriter, who pens songs that are ripe for a coffeehouse. Doughty has cleaned up his act and his straightforward songs are so different from his Soul Coughing tunes, which are often surreal curiosities.
For any fans of Soul Coughing who wonder why Doughty will not render songs from the group’s three album canon, pick up a copy of the songsmith’s ‘The Book of Drugs: A Memoir.’
The album is a revelatory look back at Doughty’s Soul Coughing days and how much he hated his time in the band and his narcotic dependence.
Doughty’s anecdotes range from humorous to painful. “When I was getting the galleys back, I was astonished what I put up with when I was in that band,” Doughty said. “Looking back after I wrote the book, I concluded that it was worse than I ever thought. But I’m better now.”
These days, Doughty, who will perform Saturday at the Sellersville Theater, is a happier, prolific songwriter.
“I’m always writing songs and I’ve become the writer that I wanted to be,” Doughty said. “That happened when I left Soul Coughing and I got clean. I’m very disappointed with the Soul Coughing songs I wrote. I wish I had done better.”
So Doughty will render his wry, cerebral and at times melancholy songs solo acoustic in Sellersville. He’ll also read from his book. Expect some interaction with the audience. “I like to connect with the crowd,” Doughty said. “Repartee is a good thing. It’s fun having a conversational thing going with the audience. It’s interesting to hear what the crowd has to say.”
Just don’t call out for a Soul Coughing song “I don’t hear those type of requests much anymore,” Doughty said. “The people that do that are in the minority. I have enough solo albums now, so people connect with those albums.”
Doughty’s solo work (five albums) has eclipsed Soul Coughing’s production.
“I certainly have enough songs to choose from,” Doughty said. “There’s no need to look back. I wrote my book and I’m moving forward.”