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- Posted on Jan 31st 2012 3:00PM by Eric R. Danton
Doughty's been clean now for years, and writing the memoir was more of an effort to collect "funny stories" than attempting to come to terms with his past -- which is not to say there's no introspection in 'The Book of Drugs.'
"I really tried to talk about all the bad s--- that I did or that I was involved with, just lapses of character and terrible moments that I totally engendered," Doughty tells Spinner. "So much of it is really salacious that I felt like, I've got to be hard on myself or I don't deserve to be writing this thing."
Doughty went on to tell us about sifting through his own (sometimes hazy) memories and how he feels, all these years later, about Soul Coughing.
Do you think the book glorifies drug use for all the impressionable children out there listening to singer-songwriters?
I don't know. From my own viewpoint, I didn't need to glorify it. They were glorious enough by themselves. I find the public-service stuff to talk people out of doing drugs very sad. People who want drugs will find drugs. There was an ad campaign in the subway, right before New Year's, there was a guy in a stretcher with a neck brace on and his face bloody, and it said, "This is not what he wanted to do three drinks ago." But if you drink like that, you are going to drink like that. It's very unlikely that the voice is going to intervene and go, 'Well, let's be nice to ourselves.' It's a compulsion.
There were a couple things that got cut. Yeah. [Laughs.] But there was nothing really personal. It was scary writing about my family, about my parents and my brother. That took a deep breath. But somehow I managed to be in denial that everyone else in the book would read it and know themselves.
Now that word is beginning to filter in about people who have feelings about their portrayal, I'm a bit more nervous. But I guess in order to just do it, I had to pretend like it wasn't going to get read, that the only people who were going to read it were people who were not in the book, which is ludicrous.
You do offer a disclaimer about these stories being only your version of events.
I've got to tell you that one of the people in the book, who I'm still really close to, I sat down with and said, "Look, there's a lot of bad s--- in the book that I don't know if you'll be happy to have retold." And of course, she said, "Well, you're talking about this story and this story and this story." And I said, 'Well, I don't remember those." [Laughs.] "What I put in was this story and this story and this story." And she said, "I don't remember those." [Laughs] It's beyond different angles on something that happened, people's memories are just utterly other from each other.
You generally don't use other people's names in the book at all. Why not?
Some people are going to Google it, but most people aren't. They're just going to read it as a character in a book, and I didn't want to put mud on anybody's name. There's some people that will look it up, but I think by and large, people are more interested in the story than they are the nitty-gritty of who it was.
Sure, but in the context of Soul Coughing, those guys are pretty easy to pick out.
Yeah, indeed. But again, I think that if I were reading a book like that, unless I was an ultra fan, I wouldn't need to know the dudes' names. I'd be more into the character than the actuality, as a reader, myself. I think.
Have you heard from them about it?
I have not. I take great pains not to hear from them, basically. There'll be little business things that come down the pike that my manager has to deal with, and what I've said to him was, "I don't care. Get the best deal you possibly can, don't tell me about it, and when the check shows up, I'll be stoked." And it's super weird for him, because he started to be like, "OK, well, I'll tell you about this," and I was like, "No, no, no. Don't tell me about anything. Anything." So yeah, I'm pretty much as divorced from their personalities as I possibly can be.
That's been controversial with fans who don't seem to understand your lack of enthusiasm for Soul Coughing.
Yeah, people don't like it. [Laughs.] I dislike the music rather intensely, and while I'm not going to come confiscate anybody's iPod, I don't want to lie about it, either.
Do you feel like you're at peace with that, or are there still lingering hard feelings?
Sure. Absolutely, there's hard feelings. But I'm content in the knowledge that I don't like what I did. I don't think it's very good. Name a band you don't like. Try really hard to like. Really hard, put a lot of elbow grease into trying to like it. Go buy the album, listen to it a couple times a day, YouTube them, maybe make a pros-and-cons list and read the pros, try really, really hard to like them.
Do you think there will be any kind of détente with those fans who do like it and are offended that you don't?
No, I don't think so. I think largely people who bring it up are doing it to be hurtful. People like to take shots at people they perceive to be on some kind of rung above them, which is not how I perceive myself at all, in the least. Which is very funny, because people are trying to hurt you! It's not like I'm being particularly grandiose. It's just this surreal idea that I think I'm better than who I am. And I don't. I definitely don't.