How many people in the world can boast that they are both a nationally touring rock star and a professional skier? I recently had the honor of catching up with Matt Reardon and talking to him about his life on stage and on the slopes. Here is what Matt had to say.
RS: Have you always been a musician and a skier?
Matt Reardon: I learned to sing and play guitar at 20. At 25, I figured out I had a future in it. I grew up in Louisiana so I didn’t start skiing until I was 14. It was on trips to Connecticut and Vermont that I learned to ski. I always wanted to be a skier from watching people like Scot Schmidt and Glen Plake in Warren Miller films. At the same time I saw a Van Halen concert and realized I wanted to be a musician.
RS: Tell us a little about your career as a musician and pro skier? How many years have you been in the industry?
Matt Reardon: I started off doing both music and skiing. I had a small record contract in 1998 and then I qualified in Big Air for the X Games. While in New Zealand soon after I got injured. The injury resulted in a staff infection. Over the next three years of surgeries and down time I started writing more and more songs. My music career began with a song I wrote for Teton Gravity Research. That song led to more songs in a few cult French ski films like LA NUIT DE LA GLISSE (equivalent of Warren Miller, but in Europe). I then started touring Europe with the film tours and my music career began. I wasn’t really expecting to get back into skiing but came back from injury stronger than before and I signed Volkl Marker International. Now I do half and half. Last year my band Black Sunshine did 180 shows and I was skiing the other days.
RS: What are the low points of both industries? What are the high points?
Matt Reardon: Injuries are the low points in skiing. In skiing you are as good as you are and that’s that. The music business on the other hand is a lot of politics. Navigating the music business is a low point. The high points are when you are on stage and the low points are when you are dealing with the business end.
RS: Did your injury have a major affect on your song writing style and skill?
Matt Reardon: Definitely, you need to use your time wisely. The music was therapy. If you make a living as a skier and you get hurt you still need to pay your bills. I began to learn how to make music into a living which was my dream. I did a lot of heavy music at that time. It wasn’t friendly. Now, I have had a chance to work with Bob Marlette, who produced albums by Black Sabbath, Seether, and Shinedown. The music I do with Black Sunshine is grass roots radio Rock and Roll. I am into many genres including folk and country. As far as writing songs goes, I have had great opportunities to write. Through affiliations with Redbull, I co-wrote the score for the Mount St. Elias film and had a chance to work with a full orchestra. This is completely different from the songs I write for Black Sunshine. Just like anyone, as a songwriter you just want to write great songs.
RS: Is one (music or skiing) more important to you at this point?
Matt Reardon: No, they both have provided me with unbelievable opportunities. I am humbled by both. With music I’m on a tour bus and get to travel around the country meeting cool people. With skiing I get to go all over the world. I am heading to Antarctica in November. We are going do live acoustic feeds for radio stations in the States from Antarctica. I am trying to marry my two passions. When I’m 70 years old I may not be able to jump off cliffs, but I will still be able to play guitar and go ski touring.
RS: How has your career as a musician been going lately?
Matt Reardon: I just finished a small European tour. Just before that I did a tour with Matchstick Productions for Colby West’s new segment. Currently, I am working with Dean Cummings on his new film as well as the Ski Channel’s soundtrack. Things have been pretty steady on both ends.
RS: Would you say your ski career fuels your music career?
Matt Reardon: Yeah, for sure. Last year after being on the radio and the Billboard charts I got a lot more opportunities. You get to meet so many people through both avenues. It has afforded me a great way to network. Just meeting Colby West in LA and hashing new music has been cool. Now, we have it coming out in a film. Having people like Scott Gaffney call you up and asking you to write songs for his film is great. The music business is the toughest thing I have sunk my teeth into. You need to keep pushing and opening up doors. One thing I can definitely say is it’s a great thing when you get in your car and hear your song on the radio.
RS: How would you describe your music?
Matt Reardon: It’s a job like Top 40 radio rock. The songs are about salt of the earth people or hard working people. I’m not trying to recreate the wheel just create great songs for the masses. I’m not writing songs about powder. Unfortunately, a lot of the best songs I have are written about people passing away. It’s not what I want to be known for but it’s something I have done a lot of. Whether it be losing a close family member or way too many friends who have passed away in Chamonix and Lake Tahoe.
RS: Do you have any upcoming plans? New album?
Matt Reardon: We are recording a new album now. We will have a new single soon. We will tour in January to support the new album and single. I am training for Antarctica. I am going to do a bunch of radio promotions and ski film promotions.
For more information on Matt Reardon and Black Sunshine check out:
Matt will be promoting the new film “WINTER” for skiing and music
Photo by John Norris/ Skier Matt Reardon