Sean McPherson, Heiruspecs bassist and 89.3 the Current host: “In 2001, Eyedea and Abilities needed [me in the studio] to record some live bass on a version of ‘Big Shots’ that was used for a ‘Tony Hawk Pro-Skater’ video game. Afterwards, we figured out that we all needed to go to St. Paul, and I was the only one with a license or a car. On the way back home, we decided to stop and eat at Davanni’s.
“Eyedea spoke directly to Abilities, ‘Max, we should pay for Sean’s food,’ and Max questioned why. Eyedea said, ‘Sean did something on our record that neither of us are able to do, did it well, then gave us a ride back to St. Paul and isn’t charging us for any of it. You’re worried about picking up some cheese bread and some pizza? Come on.’ Max relented and pulled out his wallet and was waiting for Mikey to pull out his. Mikey just said, ‘Oh, I don’t have any money with me.’ ”
Sage Francis, fellow rapper on the 2009 Paid Dues Tour: “Backstage, Mikey asked me if I wanted to hear some of the songs he was working on, and of course I said yes. I figured he had a CD-R or something to hand me. Instead, he took his acoustic guitar out and then strummed and sang and strummed and sang. But we were at a music festival, and the music coming from the stage was too loud for me to hear anything he did. Fans started staring at us from the other side of the fence. My reaction is all they could rely on to know if the music Mikey was playing was good or not. So when he was done, and he looked at me with a big smile on his face, I nodded in great approval. I only wish I could let him know how his acoustic ‘When in Rome’ project has become the most played album of his in my playlist.”
Jeremy Ylvisaker, guitarist in Carbon Carousel and Face Candy: “A lot of the best times were the staying-up-late kind of sessions. That’s when he was probably the most hilarious. He would just have you laughing every 25 seconds, and thinking of things you’d never really thought of before. And he would really open things up working together musically — he would challenge our ideas, but then he would also listen intently and absorb everything. He really was unlike anyone I’ve worked with.”
B. Dolan, another rapper who remembered Mikey strumming a guitar backstage on the Rock the Bells tour: “Lots of random entourage tough guys were looking at him in absolute confusion. Backstage and onstage, he was egoless in that setting, and it made an impression on me.
“We hung out with him and Abilities for a while, and he gave us both copies of ‘By the Throat,’ which had just come out, and told us enthusiastically we both needed to check out a songwriter named Kimya Dawson immediately. I still keep that copy of ‘By the Throat’ in a visible place in the studio where every song of mine starts.”
Terrell Woods, aka Carnage the Executioner, Larsen’s fellow rapper in Face Candy: “He called me up when he was working on this song for Booka B’s album [‘Quality Programming’], and he wanted me to come over and record it for him. I got there about a half-hour after he called and asked, ‘So, what’s the song?’ He said, ‘I just wrote it about 15 minutes ago.’ I was like, ‘Wait, when you called me, you didn’t even have the song written?’
“While I’m still dwelling on the fact that this dude wrote this song in 15 minutes, he goes in the booth and lays it down. So basically he wrote and recorded a song — a great song — in a half-hour. He was nonchalant about it, like, ‘That’s how I do it. I already know what I want to say, so it’s not that hard to spit it out when I’m ready to do it.’ ”
Kathy Averill, mother: “Mikey, my mother and I all enrolled in the same philosophy class at Inver Hills Community College, partly just for fun, but then he found out he had to go out on tour. So the first day of class he walked up to the teacher and asked, ‘I can’t make the classes, can I just go ahead and take your final exam now?’ The teacher said, ‘Well, no, we can’t really do that.’ But Mikey insisted: ‘I’m probably smarter than you,’ he said. He took the test and got all the answers right except for like two. And that was his college experience.”