Keepin' It Surreal
An interview with Soul Coughing's M. Doughty
Published October 7, 1999 in Dirt

Soul Coughing is sly. It's one of those weird New York things: Classically-trained musicians with samplers, synthesizers, and stand-up basses backing up the dada poet front guy. The poet, M. Doughty, mixes together a blender-full of obscure scientific references and romantic quips. And they even make hits, such as "Circles" and the Primus-like "Super Bon Bon."

See also...
... by Mo Lohaus
... in the Dirt section
... from October 7, 1999

Any conversation with Doughty is necessarily odd. Where other rock stars might chatter about politics and sex, Doughty riffs on mathematics.

GETTINGIT: Your lyrics deal with numbers...
M. DOUGHTY: Numbers are inherently musical. I don't know why that is. It's just one of those basic things you learn when you're three years old. They just have an inherent musicality to them.

GI: Any particular numbers with particular congruence?
MD: I'm really not into the math. I'm just into the jargon. "Three Is a Magical Number" from Schoolhouse Rock remains the all-time bomb!

GI: Your lyric "Behind every ethic is a mathematic --"
MD: The lyrics are: "Behind every object is a mathematic / Something so complex and couched in its equation / So dense that light cannot escape from...." It's about a black hole, I guess. I react to most of this stuff sensually -- that's what being a writer is about. Sit there and write whatever drifts in front of you or drifts across your head. Hank Williams wrote like 400 songs in his lifetime -- think about how many amazing Hank Williams songs there are -- he never wrote a damn one down. He'd stage writing for people. He'd pick up show girls and be like "Oh, you're cheatin'" (strum, strum) "You're cheatin'..." They'd just go through his head. Every once in a while he'd write a song title down on a cocktail napkin.

GI: So numbers relate to computers, and...
MD: ... Video games. We just came from Japan... very bizarre. I spent a lot of time playing video games 'cause my jet lag was so bad. I'd get up at 7:30 in the morning and go to one of these video arcade parlors: just the most loud and vulgar and intense...

GI: Games floor to ceiling?
MD: Floor to ceiling. Five floors; high decibel level. I played the skiing game, the water jet game -- where you get on this water jet -- and this thing called "Prop-Cycle." With Prop-Cycle, you're piloting this plane, a bicycle plane, and you've got the video screen in front of you, and a wind machine... it's just pumping air at you. So bizarre!

GI: Computer-based virtual reality is so inadequate... something for the head and something for the hands... and that's it.
MD: No smell.

GI: No hips. Do you have those trendy post-modernist identity issues? Am I "M."? Am I "am?" And finally, "Who gives a shit?"
MD: No, I'm all about science, man. I'm all about facts. If you're a poet, part of your gig is about being not that. So in some way it's all about what's opposing you. I mean that in a mathematical way. What's on the other side of the equation, the other side of the scale?

Mo Lohaus is a conspiracy theory.