Is ’90s Alt-Rock/Jazz Band Soul Coughing Reuniting?

Soul Coughing Reuniting

Opening the internets, I experienced both shock and excitement upon seeing this:


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If you were into alternative rock music in the 1990s, you may remember Soul Coughing for tracks like “Super Bon Bon,” “Soundtrack to Mary,” and their biggest hit, “Circles.” Here’s a little refresher:

Founded in New York City in 1993, Soul Coughing was fronted by Mike Doughty (he went by M. Doughty back then), with bassist Sebastian Steinberg, sampler/keyboardist Mark degli Antoni and drummer Yuval Gabay.

It was an eclectic mix of talents and personalities, which created a unique sound difficult to pin a label on. They incorporated elements of hip-hip, funk, dance, rock and spoken-word, and they sampled things like music from old cartoons, orchestral loops, answering-machine messages and a joke from a Chris Rock comedy album.

Soul Coughing released its first studio album, Ruby Vroom, in 1994. Irresistible Bliss followed in ’96, and their final record, El Oso, came out two years later.

In Doughty’s excellent 2012 memoir, The Book of Drugs, he details the band’s formation, success, and eventual breakup in 2000 due to creative and personal conflicts. Doughty also struggled with alcohol and drugs, which further complicated matters. He’s now been sober for more than 20 years.

Doughty’s had a prolific solo career since the early 2000s. He’s journeyed from folksy acoustic albums on CD-Rs that he sold at his live shows to his most recent project, Ghost of Vroom, somewhat of a throwback to the sound and style of Soul Coughing.

There was a period around the time of The Book of Drugs’ release that Doughty disowned Soul Coughing, citing the rough times he had with the band: He called it a combination of bad memories and bad art. He stopped playing SC songs at his solo live shows. (At a show I attended in Chicago in the fall of 2011, he announced — perhaps jokingly — that he and his band would only play a Soul Coughing song if they were presented with a certified check for $1 million on the stage.)

Fortunately, that period didn’t last long. In 2013, Doughty released an album of reimagined Soul Coughing tracks (and did another in 2014). Soul Coughing songs are again heard in abundance at his live shows.

When asked if a Soul Coughing reunion would ever take place, Doughty said it wasn’t impossible, just that there wasn’t any money in it.

In 2022, Doughty and Steinberg performed together onstage in Los Angeles:

And earlier this year, Doughty paid a visit to Steinberg:


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So perhaps the signs were there that a Soul Coughing reunion might take place. But what will this reunion consist of? may have spilled the beans:

“We said it would never happen. Soul Coughing, one of the most unique and influential bands of the last four decades, is returning to the stage fully-formed for the first time in 25 years. All four original members, Mike Doughty, Sebastian Steinberg, Mark degli Antoni and Yuval Gabay will be performing from coast to coast this September and October. Each exclusive performance will feature songs from their legendary catalog– El Oso, Irresistible Bliss and their genre-defining debut album Ruby Vroom which celebrates its 30th anniversary this fall.”

[Update: We now know!]

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That sounds awesome. In the meantime, reacquaint yourself with some Soul Coughing classics: