High school counselors are not endorsing the Matt Reardon plan. And for good reason. The mathematical probability of finding success as a big mountain freeskier? Slim-to-none. The mathematical probability of finding success as a rock musician? Slimmer-to-none. Finding success in both skiing and music? Slimmer-than-none.
But, sometimes the cookie does not fit the cutter. And the dreams are bigger than the thoughts of just how impossible those dreams are. High school counselors don’t get that. Matt Reardon does.
Be a good boy. That’s what they tell you. Well, if Matt Reardon had been a good boy he’d probably be stuck down in Louisiana still. But, because of some “youthful indiscretions,” Reardon was moved from the deep south to Connecticut at the age of 15. He then found skiing, and a few years later at 18, he picked up the guitar. Yep, two planks and one axe are what have taken Reardon on the wildest of life rides.
A professional skier, his sponsors include Volkl skis and clothing, Marker helmets and bindings, and Zeal Optics. On the music side, his sponsors include Yamaha guitars and SRH clothing. His group, Black Sunshine, has opened for Alice In Chains, Godsmack, Hinder, Buckcherry, and Sevendust. A tireless worker and all-around great soul, Reardon rolled throught The Ski Channel recently and rapped to us all things music and snow.
TSC: Fifteen sounds a little late to be getting into the ski game. How’d you progress so rapidly?
MR: Well, I had been big into gymnastics, BMX, motocross, ice-skating… For some reason I was really drawn to gymnastics and trampolines. All those things helped me to progress quickly.
TSC: I admire hard workers. Perhaps because I lack a little in the self-discipline field. Surely hard work had something to do with your ability to succeed in two professions where success is like finding Big Foot.
MR: I’m a workaholic at the end of the day. If you’re trying to tackle the music biz, you have to just keep pounding the pavement. I like the saying, “When opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door and kick it in.” My dad told me that a long time ago.
TSC: Have any good touring, debauchery stories?
MR: Well, we were touring with Hinder. They’re like the modern day equivelant of a Motley Crue. Everything I ever thought imaginable and would hear rumors of in touring with that type of rock band came true… times ten. They were wanting to cut a reality show, and I said no way (laughs).
TSC: You’re a Squaw guy, but Chamonix could be considered your second home?
MR: I lived there year-round for seven years. I think being around exposure in Tahoe, I made my living as a logger, I had a lot of rope skills, exposure in general I felt OK with it. Glen Plake said it best. Sure if you put a 2×4 on the ground you can walk all over it. But, put it a thousand feet in the air, and try and keep your wits about you? Chamonix teaches you that you have to keep it together at all times, and even then mother nature can come along…”
TSC: You always hear that stat with Chamonix, the one from Blizzard where they say 60 people a year, on average, die on that mountain.
MR: I think it’s way more than that per year, maybe that’s what they report, but I bet it’s over 200. I personally know 15-20 in the time I was there. It’s just a place that you learn to accept the risk. It is sometimes a role of the dice. Anselm Baud watched his son die on one of the most legendary runs that he pioneered. You hear him talk about it, and somehow he sounds OK with it.
I have stepped into seriously risky situations, but I had studied it for a month, and then went for it. I skied the Blizzard line (editor’s note: the one with the crevice that Plake and Schmidt tumble over). It was a bucket list line for me. That line has only been possible a few times since then. And I definitely cleared the crevice, but I didn’t stick it. I put my knee in my face. Interesting… felt good though.
TSC: Is there any parallels for you in leaving for a ski trip and leaving to go on tour with your band?
MR: The last 18 years has been a trip, so it all seems pretty normal living a gypsy-esk life of pursuing skiing and music. I always try to train and stay in shape, make sure you’re always on top of your game. If you’re pro and you bring your A game every time, people respect that.
TSC: Continuing on that theme, what about cliff-hucking versus stage-diving?
MR: With stage diving you have to be careful what’s in your pants, because it might not be there when you get back on stage. I’ve lost a wallet, some money… With cliffs, when you feel right, when all the variables are in place, even then you have to have a little bit of a screw loose, and just send it. Doing a really big line on skis and opening up for Alice in Chains in front of 10 thousand people, it’s the same feeling, same as when your tech hands you the guitar, and you get the countdown “10, 9…” and you go out and explode for 40 minutes. You walk off stage completely drenched, it’s the same as showing up to the heli at the bottom of an amazing run and you’re just high as a kite… naturally.
TSC: You scored the hugely successful Mount St. Elias. I saw that you worked with the Vienna Orechestra??
MR: Yeah, it was a full 50 piece orchestra. To hear a song start with just a piano and an acoustic and then go to a giant monstrosity orchestra is incredible.
TSC: I’m down with Igor Stravinsky, you have any love for classical music?
MR: For sure, Handel’s Messiah (editor’s note: Ruling!). My mom is a concert pianist, so I grew up around that stuff. My mom is my hero. She just taught me a lot about music.
Love for mom is always the best note to end on. Best of luck to you, Mr. Reardon!
Check out: Blacksunshineband.com for upcoming tour dates.