The Beards from Adelaide, Australia are as funny as they are furry, as kooky as they are catchy. Long-time beard-bearer Michael Bowser had the good fortune to speak with prophet-like bass-player Nathanial Beard, and bask in the glory of a beard decidedly longer and more impressive than his own.
I’ll start off by confessing I don’t own any of your albums – the merch stand was all sold out by the time I got near it, alright?! – but just glancing over your Myspace player and thinking back to the gig I recently attended, I have to ask…are there any songs in your repertoire whose titles don’t contain the word “beard”?
No. All of our songs have the word “beard” in the title. If a band member ever brought a song to the table that didn’t have the word “beard” in the title, they would be instantly kicked out of the band.
For the uninitiated – and particularly the beardless – what songs of yours would you point towards as best portraying the “pro-beard” aesthetic?
Hmmm, I guess “No Beard, No Good” encapsulates our feelings on the subject pretty clearly. Also, “If Your Dad Doesn’t Have a Beard, You’ve Got Two Mums” and “Born With a Beard” are good examples of our attitudes toward beards.
I myself am the proud owner of a reasonably short, carefully-groomed beard; but it is a full-blown “beard”, just the same. Is it acceptable, in your opinion, for an adult male to have a mere moustache, or are these people simply not trying hard enough?
A moustache is but a poor man’s beard. When I see a guy with a moustache, I take it as a personal insult. That guy is saying to me: “I can grow facial hair, but I’m shaving most of it off!” That’s bullshit, that is. Good on you for sporting a genuine beard, it’s people like you who are our future.
You have a song called “It Only Takes A Fortnight To Grow A Decent Beard”. A Jewish friend of mine questioned this when I mentioned the title to him, because to him a “decent beard” is one much longer than he would be able to grow in a “mere” fortnight. What minimum length requirement would you impose upon a beard for it to truly qualify as such, as opposed to mere “stubble”?
I don’t want to be able to see any skin through the beard. I don’t mind if you have a short, well-groomed beard – I’m not here to judge you – unless you don’t have a beard (period), in which case that is specifically what I am here to do.
You mentioned the song “If Your Dad Doesn’t Have a Beard, You’ve Got Two Mums”. What about people from certain ethnic backgrounds – such as Italians, for instance – whose mothers might have enough facial hair to be described as “bearded”? Would this mean that these people effectively have two dads?!
Yes, it would.
You and your band certainly seem to have something of a grudge toward men without beards. Have you yourself ever been victimised for having a beard, and if so, is your band’s disdain towards the beardless some twisted form of “revenge” for past transgressions? Were you, for example, one of those boys who was teased mercilessly in primary school for having facial hair before all the other boys could grow any?
Well, I wasn’t one of them! I grew my first beard at twenty years of age. Bearded people get victimised all the time, that’s why our band exists – we are here to empower the bearded man, who often finds himself the victim of society’s warped prejudice. The bearded man is under constant pressure to shave from his employer, the media and, often, his wife or girlfriend. I think women need to start showing more support for the bearded. It’s such a common occurrence for a bearded man attending a wedding to be asked to shave. Fuck that. You ask me to shave, not only will I not attend your wedding, I’ll actively set out to destroy the marriage. Nobody tells me to shave. I won’t tolerate it, and neither should you.
So what, in your doubtlessly learned opinion, are some of the Great Beards of History?
Here we go… Jesus, The Prophet Mohammad, Bill Oddie, Rasputin, Charles Darwin, God, Father Christmas, Gandalf the Grey and the White, Abraham Lincoln and, of course, Chuck Norris.
As well as profound lyrics, your band has some very cool, catchy tunes in their arrangement. List some of the band’s biggest musical influences for us…
Cat Stevens, two members of ZZ Top, The Beatles (in their bearded era), Bob Marley, Gandalf the Grey and the White, Abraham Lincoln and, of course, Chuck Norris.
Describe the band’s songwriting process. Does a lot of thoughtful beard-stroking go on at this stage of proceedings? And is it a fairly democratic process, or does the member with the longest beard usually win?
Normally one of us will bring a song to the band, and from there the four of us will shape it and re-structure it, change bits and write new bits, and then eventually we’ll incorporate it into our set or never play it again. I normally take a song to the band with a full set of lyrics, but sometimes someone will bring a musical idea first and the lyrics come later.
A final question, one which we always ask here at Music Vice: Other than music (and beards), what other vices would you like to share with the nice folk at home?
Having a beard is not a vice. Shaving is a vice. It’s nothing but a ridiculous fad that’s lasted far too long, thanks to companies like the Gillette Razor Corporation. But Gillette’s reign is drawing to a close, and we urge every man reading this to start growing a beard right now.
© Michael Bowser, Music Vice
You heard the man!! The Beards are touring Australia for much of the rest of the year, so get yer beard on (if you haven’t got one already) and go see ’em…or else Santa Claus won’t be giving you any presents this year. GUARANTEED.