He’s known as “Survivorman,” the guy on the Discovery Channel who outruns jaguars and eats ants in the wild, and now he’s hoping to begin a Las Vegas residency — a “Survivorman’s Mother Earth” stage show of music, visuals and storytelling.
On Sunday, Survivorman, the rugged he-man Les Stroud, will perform “Survivorman Live!” at club Vinyl in the Hard Rock Hotel.
Stroud surprised me Wednesday by telling me promoters will be at that show to assess the possibility of blowing it up into a regular “Survivorman” run in Vegas or on tour.
A business partner in his “Mother Earth” project is Las Vegas-based Doug Adams, the pro who has done pyro for everyone from Paul McCartney to Metallica and Madonna.
“He’s the best in the world at stage special effects,” Stroud said.
By the way, this interview was conducted while Stroud was overcoming belly illness after having just survived an excursion into the wilds of India. “I actually had 12 ticks on me, but one of them found a real nice place to hide,” he said.
Anyway, Stroud has been playing guitar and harmonica for decades. He even has an upcoming gig with guitar great Jonny Lang.
So what does Survivorman’s full band sound like?
“It’s like Dave Matthews meets Tool,” he said.
The Sunday show at club Vinyl will be a blended multimedia show of music performed in sync with big-screen video, integrated with “Survivorman” stories.
“My drummer has to be in sync with everything that goes on,” he said. “It’s a grand explosion of rock meets nature.”
For instance, Stroud’s band will play a song, and then he’ll take questions from the audience, tell “Survivorman” stories that fans always want to hear.
He’s not singing ballads.
“I’m no fool. Nobody wants to see a 53-year-old guy building shelters in the bush singing love songs,” he said.
Stroud is a funny guy. And he’s self-aware. I prodded him to see if he sees himself like Bruce Willis did, when Willis became a blues singer once, and Stroud laughed off my suggestion.
“I know some people might think, ‘Is this some TV star who wants to be a rock star?’ ” he said. “It’s just not the case. It really is another expression of the message I’ve always had, which is about connecting to nature. I express that in ‘Survivorman,’ and I express it onstage.
“I’m not standing on a rock stage with a rock persona saying, ‘We need to love trees, everybody.’ I’m like, ‘I’ve been to the jungles and the deserts, and here’s what you need to connect to.’ ”
Stroud is a regular tourist in Vegas. He comes here half a dozen times a year, he said.
“I don’t gamble, but I love the entertainment,” he said. “And I’m a foodie. The best restaurants in the world are in Vegas, so I come to Vegas ready to eat.”
I asked him what level of Vegasness he would allow into “Mother Earth,” such as showgirls or topless dancers.
“Absolutely not,” he said, laughing. “The whole point is to maintain the authenticity and the integrity of the message.
“It’s like what I do with ‘Survivorman.’ Everyone knows I’m the only guy who really does it (that is, filming himself surviving in the wilderness, alone). Every other show that came after me was a copycat version of me. They go home at night, and they have directors. I just got back from India, and I was really out in the jungle surviving among tigers.”
If you’re wondering, tigers are the least of his concerns on a typical day.
“Bugs are more of a problem than big creatures,” he said.
“Ants are my biggest nemesis, actually. Mosquitoes are one thing. But it just always seems I’ve got ants somewhere when I’m trying to find a place to sleep. Nothing is sacred to an ant. They’re everywhere. It’s tricky. And in the jungle, they’re nasty.”
Contact Doug Elfman at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman. Find him on Twitter: @VegasAnonymous