Soul Coughing

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Soul Coughing
Soul Coughing.jpg
Soul Coughing, 1998.
Background information
Origin New York City
Genres Alternative rock, alternative hip hop, experimental rock, funk rock, jazz fusion
Years active 1992–2000
Labels Slash/Warner Bros
Members Mike Doughty
Mark Degli Antoni
Sebastian Steinberg
Yuval Gabay

Soul Coughing was an American alternative rock band. Based in New York City, the band found modest mainstream success during the mid-to-late 1990s. Soul Coughing developed a devout fanbase and have garnered largely positive response from critics. Steve Huey in AllMusic describes the band as "one of the most unusual cult bands of the 1990s...driven by frontman Mike Doughty's stream-of-consciousness poetry, Soul Coughing's sound was a willfully idiosyncratic mix of improvisational jazz grooves, oddball samples, hip-hop, electronics, and noisy experimentalism (described by Doughty as 'deep slacker jazz')."[1]


Mike Doughty (who billed himself at the time as "M. Doughty") was a folk singer (he attended Eugene Lang College with Ani DiFranco, where they studied with Sekou Sundiata and played around the school together), slam poet, sometime music writer, and doorman at the old Houston Street location of the Knitting Factory, then a nexus for such avant-garde artists as John Zorn and Marc Ribot. He put the band together from instrumentalists he met as they came through the club.[1]

He met sampler player Mark Degli Antoni (recently graduated with a composition degree from Mannes College of Music) when they both participated in a performance of Zorn's "game piece" Cobra. This same ensemble also featured Jeff Buckley. Doughty brought a stack of CDs over to degli Antoni's house one afternoon, where they sampled iconic riffs from Raymond Scott, Carl Stalling, Howlin' Wolf, and The Andrews Sisters, among others.

Degli Antoni, Doughty, Boston-based upright bass player Sebastian Steinberg, and Israeli drummer Yuval Gabay[2] (a collaborator with Zorn, and David Linton) played their first gig, as "M. Doughty's Soul Coughing", at the Knitting Factory on June 15, 1992, a late-Monday night slot that Doughty cadged from his boss because nobody else wanted it. In 1993, he founded a club night called "SLAW" at CBGB's 313 Gallery, which was meant to emulate the popular jazz and hip hop club Giant Step, but eventually became a showcase for Soul Coughing. Posters for SLAW were headlined "Deep Slacker Jazz" (a parody of The Who's slogan "Maximum R&B"), which became an enduring description of the band's sound.

Recording career[edit]

The band was signed within a year to Warner Bros subsidiary Slash Records, and released three albums: Ruby Vroom (1994), Irresistible Bliss (1996), and El Oso (1998). In 1996, the band contributed to the AIDS benefit album Offbeat: A Red Hot Soundtrip produced by the Red Hot Organization. They enjoyed minor hit singles with "Circles", "Super Bon Bon", and "Screenwriter's Blues." They also had songs featured in the movies The X-Files film (Fight the Future), Batman and Robin, Tommy Boy and Spawn (a song called "A Plane Scraped Its Belly on a Sooty Yellow Moon", a collaboration with drum and bass artist Roni Size.) Also released following their breakup was Lust in Phaze (2002), a greatest hits compilation including a few b-sides.

Breakup and afterwards[edit]

The band broke up in early 2000, after years of feuding over songwriting credits and publishing.

Mike Doughty[edit]

Main article: Mike Doughty

Doughty continues as a solo artist, collaborating with trance producer BT on the hit single "Never Gonna Come Back Down" in the summer of 2000. Dropped by Warner Brothers that same year, Doughty toured as a solo artist for three years in support of a self-released solo CD titled Skittish. In 2005, he signed to Dave Matthews's label, ATO Records, and to date has released four full-length studio albums, two live albums, an album of electronic sample-based music, and several EPs. Doughty chose to leave ATO for reasons related to creative control to release his most recent studio album, Yes and Also Yes.

Mark Degli Antoni[edit]

Mark Degli Antoni moved on to compose film scores. His most recent score is for Werner Herzog's Into The Abyss.

Sebastian Steinberg[edit]

Sebastian Steinberg has recorded and/or toured with David Byrne, Dixie Chicks, Neil Finn, Phil Selway, William Shatner, Lisa Germano, Beth Orton, Fiona Apple, and Yerba Buena.

Yuval Gabay[edit]

Yuval Gabay formed the band UV Ray and has been recording and touring with Bristol-based Roni Size and Reprazent. He is featured in the following recordings:

As session musician, he recorded with Suzanne Vega, Lauryn Hill, Zack de la Rocha, Young Ryda, Ed Rush and Optical, Firewater, They Might Be Giants and Greg Kurstin.

In 2009 he released a breakbeat sample pack on Loopmasters, Full Cycle — Drum and bass collective.

As of 2010, Gabay is recording and touring with Asian Dub Foundation, The RULES (a collaborative band with DJ Krust), and ongoing collaborations with Roni Size and Reprazent.


Year Album details Chart peaks Certifications
1994 Ruby Vroom Gold (as of 2013)
1996 Irresistible Bliss
  • Released: July 9, 1996
  • Label: Slash/Warner Bros.
  • Formats: CD, CS, LP
136 Gold (as of 2012)
1998 El Oso
  • Released: September 29, 1998
  • Label: Slash/Warner Bros.
  • Formats: CD, CS, LP
49 200 Gold (as of 2000)
2002 Lust in Phaze
"—" denotes a release that did not chart.

Live albums[edit]

Year Title
2004 New York, NY 16.08.99
  • Released: 2004
  • Label: KUFALA Recordings
  • Recorded: August 16, 1999
Berlin/Amsterdam 1997
  • Released: 2004
  • Label: KUFALA Recordings
  • Recorded: 1997
Rennes, France 03.12.94
  • Released: 2004
  • Label: KUFALA Recordings
  • Recorded: December 3, 1994
Tokyo, Japan 03.02.97
  • Released: 2004
  • Label: KUFALA Recordings
  • Recorded: February 2–3, 1997
Live Rarities
  • Released: 2004
  • Label: KUFALA Recordings
  • Recorded: 1993, 1994, 1997


Year Single Peak chart positions Album
Hot 100
1994 "Down to This" Ruby Vroom
1995 "Sugar Free Jazz"
"Screenwriter's Blues"
1996 "Soundtrack to Mary" 37 Irresistible Bliss
"Super Bon Bon" 27
1997 "Soft Serve"
1998 "Circles" 8 38 124 El Oso
"St. Louise Is Listening"
1999 "Rolling"
"−" denotes singles that did not chart.


  1. ^ a b c Huey, Steve. "Soul Coughing band profile". Allmusic. Retrieved 2005-06-13. 
  2. ^ Obejas, Achy (22 September 1995). "Yuval Gabay Stirs Soul Coughing's Cauldron". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 28 January 2012. 

External links[edit]