Q & A With Mike

Mike loves to hear from his fans, and is always willing to answer any questions they may have. So, please feel free to drop him a line, show some love, and pick his brain. Of course, you can never be sure what you might find!

Q: You seem to dislike Christmas. Is that true? What holiday do you like best?
little-a: How to answer this..It’s not the holiday that bothers me, it’s how we celebrate it and what it’s become. In my business, most things are simply illusions. Entertainers put on a show. The audience WANTS to believe the “magic”. That theory is in play in EVERYTHING. Name it! Sports? All ballgames have become nothing more than a constant advertisement to keep you wanting to buy food, beer, whatever. You think it’s a game? Barely…. it’s bait, not unlike fishing, to get you to “bite”. That’s why they stop the game, artificially, so they can make money. And they make billions more than it costs to air. They call it “business”, I call it “gouging”. There are many, many more examples, but I’ll stop there. It’s all using the same principle because it happens to work.

Holidays are the same thing. We are conditioned to shop every time we hear Christmas music. We mindlessly believe we are supposed to behave certain ways when given certain cues. This is why Christmas music starts so early each year. Malls lose money all year long until Christmas time. 13,000,000 kids go without gifts each year (and insurance and proper food), yet, if we “believe in magic”, it doesn’t exist. Suicide rates are up during this time, too. A coat of paint will not make this house into a mansion. I cannot STAND to see people suffer. I grew up watching my parents go into serious debt each year to make sure my sister and I had gifts…. that, looking back, I didn’t really need. Therefore, today, if you want to do something nice for me, buy some needy kid a gift. Make someone else’s Christmas “magic”. I assure you, the feeling you get is much better than one might think.

The idea that people are poor because they “choose” to be makes me fighting mad! Nobody chooses to be poor. Why would they? It’s an attempt for people to twist things so they don’t feel so guilty…. to have so much while others have so little. Certainly, a wealthy person came up with this line of thinking. If it works for you, I’m jealous. I wish I could do that. I wish I could justify why I’m so “blessed” while others struggle. I wish I was that arrogant. I’m not. If you disagree with me, I’m sorry… and congratulations for your success. I’m certain you’ve earned it. I think people who work hard should do well, but to cut off Americans completely… that is un-American to me. We need to take care of each other, don’t we? I mean, you may need help someday, too. Who knows? So, I feel something akin to “sympathy pregnancy” (Couvades Syndrome) that an
expecting father may feel with his wife. When I hear about kids starving, it really bothers me because I want to do much more to help them. I feel their pain and I really wish I couldn’t. I wish like hell I could just ignore it…. it causes sleepless nights… but I know what it’s like to come home from school and the gas man was at the house to cut off the heat. Thank God my grandma brought us home from school and paid the bill that day. A lot of folks are not that lucky.

So, that’s the reason I don’t like the holidays too well…. people are suffering. Military folks… and I’m from a military family… are suffering each day in a war we should or should not be fighting. Dying each day. Yet, we don’t think about that, do we? I do. But, if we put up a huge tree and wear goofy sweaters, all is right in the world. I’m not really judging anyone… as much as explaining my point of view. I really, really wish I was more of a Diva sometimes.

That’s my reasoning. You asked!

My favorite holiday? Hmm…. 4th of July. It’s in the summer, there’s always a cookout, fireworks, and you don’t need to buy anything for anyone, if you don’t want. Ha!

Q: Do you have a favorite venue to play?
little-a: Not really. I love playing. Period. Anywhere and everywhere. Because I started so late in life, I appreciate every single gig. Ask me to your house… I’ll play!! That being said, I really like playing for Disney on their ships. It’s a dream come true, really. Who would’ve thought Mike Archer could make it this far??

Q: You seem like such a nice guy. Are you always like that?
little-a: Nope. I try, but I’m moody. There’s only a couple types of people that really upset me. I try to avoid those people rather than cause issues…. negative people. People who gossip too much and talk bad about those that are happy. We ALL know these people. The “moody” part of me comes out when certain things happen. Like, for example, I’m in a discussion about a topic with someone: I ask their point of view and they answer with “just because it is.” Drives me nuts! I’m open minded… and I want to understand someone’s point of view. “Just because” tells me that they have done no research on the subject. I don’t believe anything “just because”. That’s stupid to me.

Some pet peeves:
– The misuse or overuse of the word “literally” drives me nuts! Please stop! It doesn’t make you seem intelligent. It makes you seem like a sheep that says what everyone else says.
– Guys who are SO macho, they are cruel to weaker people. That is not a sign of strength.
– Insecure people who ONLY associate with people that will help their “status” around town. Get over yourself, please.
– These sports fans who insult others that like rival teams… or cause physical harm to them.
Now, understand, I don’t hate these things, they just put me in a bad mood when it happens. I do my best to be positive despite my peeves. The thing that makes me feel good inside: HELPING OTHERS! I like that more than anything on Earth. Especially….. people who struggle financially, handicapped, veterans, and elderly. You should try it!

So you know, I cry a lot more as I get older. Like when ESPN shows some kid that is dying…. and he meets his sports hero. Kills me everytime!! I start bawling in my cabin. I really thing they are exploiting this kid, though. They are using that story to make money… and I don’t condone that! So, I stop watching. I change the channel. I mean, after you see it 10 times, you get how it works. It’s not “real” anymore. It’s all staged… and that’s fine to do… but to purposely exploit it? That seems wrong to me. Helping kids, genuinely: good. Exploitation: bad. It’s a fine line, isn’t it? I hate seeing people suffer…. and there are so many people suffering, not just these select kids on ESPN. Maybe YOU could help make a wish come true?? TODAY!

Q: What is the best/worst things about living on a boat?
little-a: The best thing is meeting all the people. They are wonderful, really. Different cultures and languages. I get tired of the attitude some people have about disliking other countries and cultures, rather than embracing diversity and learning about others. I take time to talk to a number of people and ask about their home and families. It’s made me quite popular on the ship.
The thing I like least is just being away from Jan Archer. I know I don’t see her that often because I live 3 hours away, but I could get there if she needed me. I also miss my friends in Kentucky. There’s nothing better than having a beer with friends and telling stories and such. I’ve been fortunate to have many, many friends all over the area. My phone is constantly ringing with friends wanting me to have a beer or go do something. Sure, I can do that here, too. But the people I meet here will be leaving soon and I’ll be back at the Monkey, Mallard’s, and La Fiesta in Danville soon.

Q: In your blogs, you give your views on things. Are you afraid of offending someone who may not agree with you?
little-a: Yes. Everytime I give a view point I worry about offending someone…. not only people I’ve never met, but family members. There are a few subjects I won’t touch. However, I assure you, any opinion I give has been researched on both sides of the issue. I welcome discussions, not fights. In any discussion, the one who reacts with anger is the person who knows they’re wrong, but doesn’t want to change their thinking. Remember that.

Q: What do you miss the most / least about home?
little-a:Which home? Kentucky? Well, I miss the folks from the Mexican Monkey the most. They support me so well, I wish there was something I could do for them. Something BIG! Maybe someday…
Indiana? I miss my mom. I miss my friends. I just miss the city. However, if Indianapolis would’ve been willing to help me get started in the music business, I would’ve never moved to Kentucky and met such wonderful people. The clubs in Indy would not let me play, for some reason. Weird. I tried and tried. It’s nice to come up to Manley’s Irish Mutt and pack the place, though. Huge thanks to my friend, Mike Manly, who let’s me play at his place.

Q: Who is/was your role model – professionally / personally?
little-a: My role model, professionally, is hard to say. I admire Bruce Springsteen, Jim Croce, John Mellencamp, Elvis, The Beatles, Waylon Jennings, and so on and so forth. I like to think I take something from each and incorporate it to what I do. I like to think I’m unique…. even if I’m not. So, to answer the question, I don’t know.
Personally, there is a guy in Indianapolis that is a friend of mine that I’ve always admired. He’s originally from Kentucky and started with nothing. I mean, nothing! And he’s worked his way to being a very successful man. His name is Roger Hobbs and he’s from Harlan, KY, originally. I don’t want to give too much information about him because I don’t know if he would want me saying anything, but I admire him and always have. I know his story and how hard he had to work to get where he is, and it’s something that he should be proud of. He’s given me a lot of great advice over the years, too. And he’s just a good guy. Has nothing to do with music, but, at the same time, it sorta does. Hard work is universal.

Q: You mentioned regrets in a couple different blogs. Will you share some?
little-a:Oh, wow….. there are so many… and many I will only share with those close to me. The range is from silly little regrets…. all the way to life-changing regrets.
One little one I was thinking of the other day: I was passively watching a college basketball game and a player was fouled in the act of shooting. Two free throws to him. He was a poor free throw shooter, so a teammate stepped up in his place. The second guy was a better shooter and it was an attempt to have a better chance to score points for the team, but this is illegal. If the official catches him doing this, he could be issued a technical foul for intentionally attempting to deceive the official. It’s common in summer leagues because officials don’t take the games too seriously. It’s so difficult to do this during regular season games that it’s very rarely attempted. This is not a huge deal, but it’s certainly unethical.
My mind wandered back to when I was playing on the AAU circuit during the summers when I was in high school. I, personally, did this to a couple of our players because I was a much better shooter from the foul line. My regret is how that wasn’t fair to those teammates. That was their chance to step up and score and I took it away from them. Maybe the free throws I made won us the game… maybe not. But was it worth being disrespectful to a friend? It took all these years for me to realize what a jerk I was and immediately wished I could call and apologize… not that it would make it OK now. What’s done is done. It’s a small thing, but it seems big now that I changed my point of view. I wonder if my teammate’s parents realized what I was doing and resented me doing that to their son? I wish I hadn’t done that and it may be a reason we are not in contact today. These guys know who thy are…. and I hope they are reading this so they understand that I know I was wrong. I’m sorry.
There are many more, but I’ll stop there.

Q: What you like the best about entertaining people?
little-a: When I was a kid, I thought I was invisible. I really believed nobody could see me. Because of that insecurity, I love seeing people smile as a result of something I did. There’s too much hate in the world. Too much ugly. Too much mean. I’m dumb enough to think that maybe I can bring a little bit of joy to our world. That’s why I don’t play the blues. Too sad. I like my shows to be fun celebrations of life. I want to change that person who sits around hating their life, or other people, or whatever; and show them that it’s so much better to love and laugh. I know, I know… I’m dreaming. But it’s dreamers who have always made this world a better place. I’m very small in this business, but at least it’s something.

Q:What is your favorite song to play?
little-a:There are so many. To attempt to narrow it down is futile and I won’t even try.

Q: What advice would you give kids that want to follow in your footsteps?
little-a: Well, it’s hard because a lot of the stuff I learned wasn’t planned… it was accidental. I know so much about old music because my parents lived through it and taught me over the years “who was who” and “what was what”. That’s why I can talk with people in their 60’s and 70’s about that generation of music intelligently. How do you teach a teenager today to appreciate Buddy Holly, Elvis, Dylan, and/or The Beatles?

I know about hard work through athletics. I shot basketballs until my fingers would bleed and then listen to some kid’s mom tell me I was a “ball hog” when her kid was not as good. Or hit baseballs until I wore blisters on my hands. I would have to call and call my friends and beg them to go to the baseball diamond on weekends when they would rather sleep or ride bikes around the girls. That’s the attitude one needs to start, but it cannot be taught.

With music being so “corporate” and capitalistic, it’s less about art and more about money. That’s why The Spice Girls, Milli Vanilli, Backstreet Boys, Justin Bieber, etc., can out-sell true singers and musicians. That’s why there is so much talent in Nashville serving you coffee at Starbucks. That’s why mangers have told me that there are multi-million dollar acts out there that can’t play, sing, and entertain like certain other struggling entertainers…. but the latter can’t seem to find their break. So, it’s not fair from the start. If you find a musician that is paying the rent by ONLY playing music, there’s your success story.

I said all that to say: My first thing to say is that you must go into music knowing that one must be strong. You need to understand that if you choose this profession, you run the risk of being better than a number of successful acts but never be mainstream. Your sense of accomplishment must come from within. It’s absolutely vital that young people understand this and it’s almost impossible to teach this with the sense of entitlement so many kids seem to display.
Hard work does NOT guarantee success. That is a fact that all adults understand to some degree. With the advent of “helicopter parents”, it seems that teens today refuse to pay their “dues” and do not seem to understand that it’s OK to make a mistake…. as long as you learn from it and apply that lesson with the next endeavor.

Also, the better you are, friends and family will become jealous. They WILL make fun of you to your face and, even worse, behind your back. They will be there only when you are “on top”, but disappear when you have a setback. That’s just how it is. It’s not fair, I know, but true. If you can put up with that, you can be a successful musician, to some extent. That, my friend, is why success MUST come from within.

So, my advice is: BE STRONG! Do what you want to do and make no apologies.
People associate strength with physical power. Look, anyone can be born with the physical gift of natural strength and bully weaker people. That is a weakness, not a strength. What I’m talking about is the ability to stand there with pride while others take their “pot shots” at you because you choose to be different. You don’t need to look very far to find folks who have dealt with the same thing. Any celebrity or star has put up with it. Well, there are the select few that were born into so much wealth and power that failure would be difficult. (Anderson Cooper, Kate Hudson and a number of Politicians come to mind, right off the bat.)
My favorite example is Ray Charles. A guy, who was born with sight; but, through no fault of his own, lost his sight, changed the way music is heard and played in his time….. And today. Sure, he had his demons, like we all do. But his mother would not bail him out every time he fell. He had to learn to pick himself up without help. Ray had to learn to stand on his own two feet and eliminate excuses. Don’t we all? There are many more examples than this, but I only have so much time to write. I hope this helps some kid somewhere… or maybe a parent who “coddles” their child. Look, you’re doing them no favor by painting the World as easy. It isn’t. You know this. Maybe you just need to hear it. And if it was easy, I, personally, would want no part of it.

Q: Do you have any “celebrity crushes”?
little-a: Sure do! Do you want names? In no particular order: Hope Solo, Soledad O’Brien, Natalie Portman, Erin Andrews, Michelle Rodriquez, Sarah Silverman, Amy Shumer, and Sofia Vergera….. or anyone that LOOKS LIKE Sofia Vergera. If you’ve not heard of some of them, look it up. I tend to NOT be attracted to dumb girls who dress and act like tarts. FYI. Not that Kim Kardashian, Kesha, or Lady GaGa cares…..

Q: How did you go from a basketball star to musician?
little-a: Was I really a “star”??? Nope. Sure, my proudest moment as an athlete was being an AAU All-American with guys like Penny Hardaway and Eric Montross… but looking back on it now, it was all a learning experience to get to this point in my life. People are not failures because they don’t make the NBA or whatever.. it’s because they fail to learn from the successes and failures. At the time, just like now, there were people who told me I wasn’t good enough to compete with guys at that level. I proved I could. When I went to Manchester, England to try out to play professionally, all I needed was to prove I could play. By that time in my life, I had lost the passion I had in college, but was still good enough. That’s all I needed, personally. Anyone can say what they want, now. In music, there are the same “haters”. I have two CD’s under my belt, a music video, and some loyal fans. I’m a winner, man! I do not need anyone’s approval but my own, in this case.

But, to answer the question: I always loved music and meant to learn how to play when I was in college, but didn’t. There are always excuses, aren’t there? After I decided to quit playing, music was there. I played a few songs for my mom and she told me that there were points in the song where it sounded OK. I thought, if I can make some it sound good, I could practice and make all of it sound good. Mom won’t lie to me. if I suck, she tells me. I’m not like some people that get mad if they get negative feedback. I listen and work on it until I get it as best as I can. Less ego than you might think.

Being a musician is almost exactly like playing basketball on a team. I was usually the captain because I studied the game like a coach. I was going to be a coach… until I realized the game is not pure anymore… but that’s a different story. It’s difficult to get a bunch of different personality types to blend into a cohesive group to achieve a common goal. Anyone who thinks it’s easy has never tried. Well, a passion for music has replaced my passion for basketball… and then some. I regret not starting at a younger age, but there’s nothing I can do about it now. Just do the best I can. It was not uncommon for my family to turn off the TV and listen to music. I always love the songs from the 50’s and 60’s and tried to imitate Elvis, The Beatles, or whoever. Then came Jim Croce, Bruce Springsteen, and John Mellencamp. I love what these guys did for music. Of course there are others… but these guys were, in my mind, the best. They really spoke to me. It’s still good today and I know I will never match up, but I love the feeling of entertaining hundreds of people. Helping in a small way make the world a little more beautiful.

Q: Dog or cat person?
little-a: I prefer cats, but I like dogs. Cats are so smooth in the way they move and play. I just love to watch them walk across the room sometimes. They’re independent, for the most part. Their love and affection must be earned, usually… and I like that about them. Dogs just mindlessly do whatever their master tells them and nothing really is calculated. They’re dumb, I guess, in a nutshell… but cute, loyal, and fun to take out to the park and stuff. Plus, girls really, really love dogs. But, I would rather have a cat.