Survivorman Les Stroud
Survivorman is a documentary adventure program that airs on the Outdoor Life Network, the Science Channel, and the Discovery Channel. Les also produced an award-
winning documentary film called Snowshoes and Solitude. Currently, Les is working on his dramatic feature film debut as Professor Cory Mathis in Interview A Monster (2016). In the film, the loss of his wife destroys his world changing him into a man with nothing to lose and something to find.
Les Stroud is a pretty busy guy. He’s the star of Survivorman, musician, author, filmmaker and activist. He’s been in Missouri recently acting in the new feature film Interview A Monster. He took a few minutes out of his hectic schedule for this exclusive interview for 573 Magazine.
573: Who is Les Stroud?
I like to continually remind people that I’m a pretty regular guy when it comes to my background and where I came from. I have nothing special to talk about in terms of my past. In many ways If you ask me the question “What am I most afraid of?” It’s actually mediocrity. That’s what I’m most afraid of. I think it’s been that fear of mediocrity that’s driven me to seek a way out of a pretty whitewashed, benign childhood, in a suburban neighborhood in the mid-70s.What touched my soul always from the beginning was a real passion for nature and everything to do with the wilderness and adventure. But my soul is very schizophrenic because the second part of my soul has always held the same amount of passion for my music. My life has always been a split between going after adventure, seeking to create things musically, and often blending the two together. Fear of mediocrity is not my only motivation. I also have an incredible fascination with the natural world. I’ve always been blown away and intrigued by the natural world whether it’s a vista of the high Andes Mountains, or watching an ant on the ground, and everything in between. And, I think having been influenced by shows by Jacque Cousteau, or movies about Tarzan or National Geographic specials or Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. I think those things in my childhood inspired me to say, well hey, I want to be that guy. I want to be out there. I want to see tigers and lions. I want to be in the jungle and be in the desert and climb on top of a mountain. And so my fascination with the natural world reigns supreme and strong and always has and I’m sure always will. Sometimes I’m going out in nature because I’m working on a musical project, believe it or not. Or sometimes I’m working on a musical project that celebrates nature. A big part of what I like to do is celebrate the natural world. Celebrate Mother Earth and I do so through my filmmaking; I do so through my music; and I do my own BY meditative reconnecting to Mother Earth and by getting out there and adventuring myself.
573: Now that we’re on the subject, let’s talk about your music.
The emotional, physical, spiritual drive of music that flows through me is one that I come by honestly just as I do my love of nature. My musical influences, of course, are highly based on the time I was born and what was going on in the world musically, which thankfully was a wide variety. The 70’s opened up a lot, and I think even more so now-but certainly especially the early 70’s and onward-when we as a culture were opened to all forms and all kinds of music and the blending and cross-genres. So my music is very much fed by a multitude of genres. I prefer to dip in and out of all kinds of genres when I work. The overriding one might be steeped in sort of art rock as they used to call it, but art rock by its very nature, tends to draw from all styles of music. Even nowadays whether it’s rap, or funk, or some sort of world music, or heavy rock, or folk or opera or country…I have always been open to all of that and my sense of creation flows from that when it comes to creating my own music.
573: Tell us about the Survivorman TV show.
The initial concept of Survivorman came out of pure desire to teach wonderful wilderness skills. That’s really where it stems from, and I happen to have the skill set of working in film because of my rock video production days. In putting the two together it enabled me to create something that didn’t exist before. The entire genre of “survival TV” has ridden on the back of Survivorman. Survivorman gave me a chance to continue with my performing ego to perform and present and combine that with my love of teaching; and I happen to be teaching about nature so it was a wonderful blending of skill sets that I’ve built throughout my life, combined with passions that I’ve always had.
573: How many days a year do you work?
I never work (chuckle). I do the things I want to do every day of the year. But I never work. And I haven’t had a job in 30 years.
573: Give me your grossest, best and worst?
The grossest would be eating a live six inches long grub in the Indonesian jungle that was squirming. I had to take the head off or it was gonna bite me. And it was disgusting! It tasted like six week old milk stuck in a plastic bag and left out in the sun. It was horrifying!The best experiences are often those that involve wildlife when something comes up and checks me out. I had a Lynx come up to me one day and actually sniff me as I stood still. That was incredibly exciting.The worst experiences often revolve around me getting overconfident or a little too cocky. Like going down the hill in Norway soaked to the bone with both sweat and freezing rain and wet snow and almost getting hypothermic and it was a very dangerous situation. Those situations only ever happen when I get overconfident.
573: Tell us about Interview A Monster.
The Interview A Monster movie for me is an incredible opportunity to a.) show my chops in dramatic fictional format, and b.) collaborate with Thomas Smugala who I think is an excellent screenplay writer. I think the writing for the movie is wonderful and farcical and funny; and yet still punches holes into the real world of Bigfoot fanatics and the naysayers and what can go on. It’s an opportunity to have fun with this whole genre in a dramatic sense, with a well-written script. It was one that I wasn’t going to pass up.
573: How do you like Missouri?
Missouri is great! My knowledge of Missouri only really stems from the many western movies that took us there for different stories, as well as the fact that the fictional character the Outlaw Josey Wales was from Missouri (Great movie!). I’ve been having a great time here and I’ve been really wonderfully surprised to see how incredibly thriving the artistic initiatives are in Missouri. The artistic neighborhoods and the passion behind a lot of artists that are in Missouri are very evident and I’m finding that a real welcoming place to be.
573: What’s next for Les Stroud?
A lot of times my answer to that could simply be, “Well, what isn’t next?” I’m on to so many things and I love being very active and prolific. I’m developing a major stage production for my music called Mother Earth. I continue to perform live in theatres and clubs with my music. I am producing more Survivorman and Son shows. I’m sure there’s a book around the corner for me to write fairly soon. I’ve got two new albums already recorded. They’re being mixed and should be released in the coming year. There’s a lot on my plate. And I’m just getting started! Special thanks to Laura Bombier
Laura is the official stills photographer and head of marketing for Les Stroud. With over 20 years in the photographic industry, her experiences range from freelance to underwater, corporate, editorial, fashion, portraiture,…