Read: Mike Doughty’s Drugs Memoir

 

Soul Coughing frontman
dishes on former bandmates while spilling the beans on his own shortcomings.
Also in the crosshairs: assorted alt-rock era personalities such as the dude
from Everclear. Published recently by Da Capo Press.

 

By John B. Moore

 

Though
not necessarily a love letter to drugs The
Book of Drugs
is hardly an angry recovering addict’s manifesto railing
against all that they have taken away from him; To the contrary, even though
musician Mike Doughty regularly attends meetings for addicts nowadays, he states
early on in his memoir that he can’t renounce drugs. “I love drugs. I’d never
trade that part of my life when the drugs worked,
though the bulk of the time I spent getting high, they weren’t doing shit for
me.”

 

It’s
surprisingly refreshing to hear a full-time rocker relay that sentiment in a autobiography,
as most use that as the main excuse for why the band broke up; why they are
broke; and/or why they are no longer packing stadiums (see Guns N’ Roses,
Aerosmith, Motley Crue or any number of recent “if not for the drugs, I’d still
be huge” bios lining the shelves over the past 12 months). The Book of Drugs, thankfully, is not your standard memoir in other
ways, as well.

 

Written in
more of a conversational collection of anecdotes, remembrances and one-off
stories, though largely chronologically, Doughty eschews the traditional chapter by chapter
story in the life of, opting for a
more original take on the standard rock memoir. The Book of Drugs obviously devotes a great deal of ink to
Doughty’s time as frontman and founder of the ‘90s alt rock band Soul Coughing,
a group he doesn’t exactly look back on with fond memories. Unlike most bands,
the group didn’t grow out of teenage friendships, nor did they jam together on
a regular basis, rather Doughty cold called his three former band members
having seen them perform around NY, when he needed to put together a quickie
band.

 

As he
tells it, the three musicians, all older and more experienced, looked at Soul
Coughing as little more than a side project not worth putting much time into
until the labels started sniffing around. They convinced Doughty, the primary
songwriter, to split royalties equally, all while mocking his level of talent.
Granted the memoir (as is the nature of memoirs), is largely one-sided, but you
can’t help but feel for Doughty as he recounts story after story of slights by
his band mates.

 

 

 

The book
is also filled with famous cameos by musicians as varied as Redman, Dave
Matthews, Ani DiFranco and Jeff Buckley (a musician it seems Doughty both
admired and was annoyed with in equal measure). Though he has no problem
mentioning many of these musicians by name, he inexplicably thinly tries to
hide the identity of others he had problems with (for some reason he never
mentions Everclear frontman Art Alexakis by name, though it doesn’t take more
than five seconds on Google to realize this is who he slams in talking about
his groupie behavior).

 

More than
a decade after breaking up Soul Coughing and several years of being sober have
certainly given Doughty plenty of perspective on how things were being part of
an up-and-coming alt rocker in the mid to late ‘90s. Despite the fact that he
swears we will never hear from that band again, his time in Soul Coughing and
his relationship with drugs clearly made for some fascinating stories.   

 

Photo
Credit: Deborah Lopez

 

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