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Nov 4, 04 09:48 AM

Training. And, Making It New, Beyond the Whoomy Sound.

octopus:chrystie_and_riv_sts:nov2:2004.jpg

I've been running scales in the morning. Something I rarely do.

I've always just sort of let my guitar sound grow and change organically, as I needed it, for new songs that required new things. These few years touring solo, I've developed a big, whoomy, low-endy sound. I tell the front of house sound guy at every soundcheck: Pretend the guitar is a bass drum.

The gangadank has worked fine for me for years. Some say I'm samey; I don't mind. I've always loved artists like Sam Cooke, the Velvet Underground, John Coltrane, who write new songs over similar changes and rhythms, and you can track their very gradual evolution album-to-album.

I discovered on the band tour in June that I needed to change my guitar sound. Scary and refreshing to discover that. The whoomy sound is swallowed up by drums, bass, and piano. So I have to make it sharper, leadier, more trebly. I've been practicing with a pick--I haven't used a pick for years--it feels weird to have this extension on my picking-finger.

Whatever the band that I put together to support this upcoming record sounds like, I have to find a new role in its midst. It's a pain in the ass to lay the groundwork, but ultimately I'm thankful to the universe for putting me in a position where I have the choice of embracing growth.

Posted by Mike at November 4, 2004 9:48 AM
Comments

Found your website 3 months ago. Accidently. I'm 51, happily married 3 kids, a grandchild but for some reason will be following your career. Your website looks interesting and I like the title of your songs. I'm in a writing class and your title gave me food for thought. Congradulations on your record deal. That's great!

Posted by: Marilyn at November 4, 2004 10:08 AM

I know what you mean. Don't get me wrong, the stuff on your last tour was great, but i found your unique guitar sound which sounds so cool when you play solo tended to get drowned out with the band. I have the same problem whenever I try to play a song I wrote with other musicians, I always find I have to mess with my strum pattern, make it less percussive and let the rest of the band fill in the sound--I guess that's what drummers are for.

Posted by: Rob at November 4, 2004 10:15 AM

I had the same problem in my band. Play a Telecaster! It's a brighter sound, especially on the bridge pickup, really scrape-y and snappy. I dig it.

Posted by: phil at November 4, 2004 10:21 AM

I feel just like that little octopus (quadrapus?), I'm so happy to hear that you're working on new and evolving sounds. Really, it sounds like you are in an awesome place to create from. Change is always scary. Good, bad, totally lateral. And its also guaranteed to happen whether we accept it or not. That photo has made my morning! :) Thanks for doing this journal, its really so enlightening to hear about your process.

Posted by: Lauren at November 4, 2004 10:41 AM

I feel just like that little octopus (quadrapus?), I'm so happy to hear that you're working on new and evolving sounds. Really, it sounds like you are in an awesome place to create from. Change is always scary. Good, bad, totally lateral. And its also guaranteed to happen whether we accept it or not. That photo has made my morning! :) Thanks for doing this journal, its really so enlightening to hear about your process.

Posted by: Lauren at November 4, 2004 10:44 AM

Mikey, now that you're inhaling a new breeze of artistic air, perhaps you would consider writing another book of poetry, with a photo accompaniment for each page? (My copy of "Slanky" is pretty dog-eared and worn, and no pretty pics except your placid mug on the back.) With your work on the 24-Hour Plays, maybe a little acting work would shake your chakras! so quite new!

Posted by: Deb at November 4, 2004 10:54 AM

Sorry, computer fuck-up. Are my comments samey?

Posted by: Lauren at November 4, 2004 10:58 AM

congrats on the new deal, first off.

second: congratulations on the evolution. Know what you mean about that "whoom" sound, currently refining my own guitar-fu semi-similarly. My problem was remembering electricity is my friend who helps me not to have to hit the guitar so hard. Dunlop makes a pick called the Big Stubby that maybe might help with guitar enunciation.

Looking forward to the reissues and to the new thingummybob next year.

Posted by: Mark Saucier at November 4, 2004 11:04 AM

yo, mike, suprised you play scales, that's totally strange to hear:) but, sure, there's nutin wrong with that:)

Posted by: killerwhale at November 4, 2004 11:28 AM

by the way, is that correct....i heard billy corgan's "blinking with fists" made it into new york times bestsellers list?

Posted by: jazzy at November 4, 2004 11:33 AM

mike-i know exactly what you mean. i'm a bass player, but as we speak i'm trying to redefine my sound, my tone. i think that it's a never ending struggle with some musicians to find that niche. i'm sure you will man.

i told you this when i met you at vasar earlier this year, but you have gotten me through some really fucked up shit in my life. so it's really awesome that you let your blog give us all insight into your own journeys. seriously mang, you rock the lyrics and the gangadank so well it just floors me! lately i've been listening to a lot of the s.c. stuff again, and then listening to your solo stuff...in like one crazy anthology.

and i can hear your progression as a lyricist and as a guitarist and it gives me hope for me...for my band...for my creative endeavors...

Posted by: james the s at November 4, 2004 1:47 PM

Hrmn. I'm really looking forward to the full band sound on the album, quite honestly. While I loved your turing as a solo performer and am equally enamored with the Soul Coughing sound, I'm definitely looking forward to this as-of-yet redefined Doughty sound. Can't wait.

Maybe y'oughta go back to the big ol hollowbodies you played, I love the way they sound. :)

Posted by: Little Bill at November 4, 2004 2:29 PM

but i like the whoomy sound! Congrats on the record deal...can't wait for Dec. 7th. Oh and you were AWESOME at Bonnaroo this year...hope you'll be there next year too.

Posted by: Julie at November 4, 2004 3:25 PM

with dan wilson? you must be in minneapolis. i live in the minneapolis/st.paul-area. it's great. i also have a blog, but i'm bad at keeping up. and the layout is a mess. but yours is great. it's inspiration to fix mine.
also, in the annoying category. i bought rockity roll at the first ave show (they are closed, did you hear???) and you signed it, and it has disappeared into the ether. sad day, along with everything else this week.

Posted by: katie at November 4, 2004 3:45 PM

i'm so glad you see the opportunity for growth and exploration now -- i struggle with development as an artist, too, and know that it can be a challenge to be open like that -- way cool, man! above all, have fun and go deep!

Posted by: Amy at November 4, 2004 3:45 PM

To quote The Kids In The Hall, "To change would mean...to make an effort."

To finally discover and be open to the fact that change, growth, and staying positive are all about choice. It is hard to wrap your noodle around. Even harder to follow when the forces seem like their against you. I'm walking a hard journey right now and I give MD props for his success but even more for his gratitude to the universe. Gratitude is sorely missing from the world as we know it.

As an aside, I have 2 copies of Rockity Roll that were sent to me in error almost a year ago, and musictoday did not want them back. I found them again recently after my last move and am ready to share the love to anyone who wants a free copy.

It's all about sharing the love.

Posted by: StarGirl at November 4, 2004 5:50 PM

"but ultimately I'm thankful to the universe for putting me in a position where I have the choice of embracing growth."

That's the most amazing thing I've read all day.

Posted by: liz at November 4, 2004 7:55 PM

heh, gangadank

heh, picking finger

you funny man, mike doughty.

Posted by: wendy at November 4, 2004 10:36 PM