Phil Doucet is no slouch. The Katy Mae lead singer, guitarist and native New Yorker has spent the last several years plowing the musical fields, harvesting a distinctive sound that has earned the band critical acclaim- not to mention attention from the money men of the record industry. Now, as the band comes into its own, Doucet catches up with me for a interview on life, music, and the future of rock n’ roll.
In this second half of a two part interview, Doucet lets loose on MTV, “the industry”, Guitar Hero and his love of hard-boiled noir novels and comic books.
Racket Jack: What is your opinion of Guitar Hero?
Phil Doucet: I’ve only played it once and I wasn’t very good at it. I’ve never really thought about it. I guess that it is fun for folks who play it.
RJ: If you or the band got the chance to work with Red Octane [the folks who produce Guitar Hero] would you?
PD: These days getting your music heard is a challenge, so any vehicle promoting original music that isn’t engaged in evil is fine with me.
RJ: What makes an artist/band good? What makes them bad?
PD: I don’t really know. I guess, for me, honesty is the first thing. I’m not really into the extras that go into art, pre-conceived strangeness, or forced detachment. If you can convey realness then I’ll pay more attention. After that is up in the air.
RJ: Do you believe the existence of 24 hour networks such as MTV or VH1 make it difficult for artists to be taken seriously?
PD: I think when “24 hour music networks” stop playing music in favor of reality based vapor its hard to be taken seriously.
RJ: If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be and why?
PD: The music industry has been exactly that, an INDUSTRY of music for so long now it’s hard to break down one thing. Money and art is tricky, and all musicians are trying to sell something, so the union is inescapable. I try and stay positive. Make music, play shows, enjoy myself. As long as someone wants to hear what we’re doing I’m happy. Business in general can be a drag, if I can keep recording music my own way I won’t complain.
RJ: What makes a song/album special?
PD: For me, songs and albums are special when they transcend the notes and structures and become part of my whole being. You can live inside of certain pieces of music, I know it sounds corny, but that is my truth.
RJ: If you could have any other occupation other than music, what would it be?
RJ: Who is your favorite author? What is your favorite novel? Are you interested in specific genres (e.g. horror, sci-fi) or do you just read whatever comes to mind?
PD: Right now I am immersed in the Hard Case Crime Book club. They publish out of print and new works of fiction in the “hard boiled” crime style of Jim Thompson and Dashiell Hammett. There is a comic book writer, Ed Brubaker, who has a series called Criminal, and it is top shelf noir style…amazing. I love Steinbeck, Camus (the Fall), Bernard Malamud…
RJ: Do you have any hobbies outside of rock n’ roll?
PD: I’m really into baseball…is that a hobby?
RJ: What advice would you have for musicians starting out?
PD: My only advice is to keep doing it if you really love, because then it won’t matter what happens from a “career level”. You can’t control labels, or radio, or reviewers so don’t try. You can only hang your hat on your own head.
RJ: What do you hope you legacy to be?
PD: My legacy??? If people are into a show or a song and it stays with them, I would consider that the height of success.
RJ: Do you have anything else you want to address before we go?
PD: In closing…I just want folks to continue listening to music, buying music, going out to shows. Take a chance on a band and listen to your opinions on what you’re hearing. There is a lot of great stuff out there, new and old. Treat your music like a book in your collection, these days music seems disposable and that bothers me. Songs can be powerful, so just because you can download them in a few seconds, you should still treat them with the same respect as those that created them.