To American Idol fans, he's the guy who brought judge Kara DioGuardi to tears with his version of Kate Bush's This Woman's Work. To locals, he's Big Mike from St. Petersburg who graduated from Gibbs High School and found fame. Michael Lynche, 27, returns to his hometown to perform at First Night, St. Petersburg's annual New Year's Eve party. He spent the holidays with family in St. Petersburg, enjoying some well-deserved time off after a busy year. The Times reached him by phone last week while he was at a Borders buying a cookbook, a Christmas gift for his wife. Here's what the fourth-place Idol finisher had to say about First Night parties, New Year's resolutions and his plans for 2011.
What are you up to these days?
I've been working on my album the last three months, and I'm close to being done with it so I'm very excited to start the promotion process and perform some of the new songs. For First Night, I'm going to do some of my new songs from the album.
Was the record deal through Idol?
No, it's my own deal. When you leave the show and leave the tour, you're on your own. People don't know that. It's not that Idol sets it up for you. You've got to keep working and keep moving, and that is what I've been doing.
Did you ever go to First Night while growing up in St. Petersburg?
Oh yeah. My family used to perform there all the time. We were the Lynche Mob. We had a show and First Night was one of the places we performed at year after year after year. One of the songs that my family used to do was Eleanor Rigby, which was also a song I did on (Idol) this year. I'm going to do it at First Night, as well, so it's going to be cool.
A colleague of mine who knew you from Gibbs said you used to finish everyone's lunches. Any special food you get while you're home?
(Laughs.) My favorite restaurant here is Caribbean Café on Central Avenue. We go there every time we're in town. They know we're coming. I always get the 12-inch Cuban with a crab roll. My wife always get the 9-inch Cuban with a potato ball. And we love Publix subs.
When we first moved to New York years ago, they don't have that kind of stuff. We would just ache for it.
What do you typically do on New Year's Eve?
Usually we sit at home in New York. When we were in college, me and my wife drove up to New York just to go stand in Times Square with a couple of friends. It was like the coldest thing you can ever imagine. We just drove up from Florida, straight through the night, straight through the day. We got there, took a nap for about an hour at my brother's place and went and stood in Times Square for like six hours. This was in 2001 and Sept. 11 had just happened, and the city had a certain buzz to it. Once we did it, we said we'd never do it again.
Any New Year's resolutions?
I don't really believe in resolutions. You've just got to do it now. I don't believe in procrastinating, now anyway. I used to all the time. I'm really looking forward to 2011 being really big, and I want it to be even more successful than 2010. It was a really successful year for me career-wise and family-wise. We're really looking forward to capitalizing on all that.