There’s nothing funny about The Beards. People have been incorrectly treating the purveyors of beard related wisdom as a folk rock comedy act since their inception in 2005, misinterpreting their songs as a tongue in cheek look at the benefits of beard ownership. Their drummer, John Beardman Jr, made this point quite clear during a deep, philosophical discussion about North Korea, Daft Punk and everything in between, including their upcoming world tour. Australia, it’s time to stop laughing, stop shaving and start growing.
The Beards just took their message overseas for the first time, tell me about the trip.
It was very good actually, we went over to South by Southwest, which we thought was a beard growing festival. Our management lied to us and told us it was the biggest beard growing festival in the world, so we were quite disappointed when we got there. But there were still quite a few good beards at the event, so overall it was a great trip.
So when you arrived and found out that it wasn’t actually a beard growing festival, did you put aside your disappointment and start converting South by Southwest to beards?
Yeah definitely. We love beards so we love playing our music as often as we can to as many people as we can, so it was great to be able to play in front of Texans and the whole world, and show them exactly what growing a beard is all about.
And what were the state of beards like after you left?
Well, we were there for five days, so we definitely started to notice people looking a bit hairier. We like to think that when we go back there later this year, everyone in Austin and all of Texas will have grown a beard.
As well as going back to The States, you’re also leaving our shores to take your music to the UK and Europe. How does one spread bearded propaganda in non-English speaking countries?
We haven’t actually faced that challenge yet, but beards are a universal language. You don’t need to be able to say the words to grow a great beard. We’re hoping that we’ll be able to reach some common ground on beards, because a lot of the Europeans have a great bearded history, they’ve been growing beards for a long time, and we’re really looking forward to seeing some more great beards. Because we love beards. Beards!
How do you plan to take advantage of being in countries that have such a strong knowledge of beards?
It’s going to be a great learning experience for us, learning how they grow beards over in Europe. We always like to learn about beards from bearded people, we’ll sit down and talk to them for hours if we can about how to grow and maintain an awesome beard. We think that the European’s are going to be great, and be full of information on beards.
While we’re on the topic of international issues, there have been some global tensions over the actions of Kim Jong-un and North Korea. He doesn’t have a beard. Does he want to blow up the world because of he’s jealous of beards?
I would say that that is the only reason. I don’t really follow politics, and I especially don’t follow the politics of countries with leaders that don’t have beards, but I could understand why someone without a beard would feel the way he feels, and would want to take action against the rest of the world. I think we all just need to stop fighting wars over territories and land, and we should start fighting wars over what really matters, and what really matters is whether or not people have beards.
If you were given the opportunity to travel to North Korea and spread your message, would you take it?
We’ll play anywhere in the world, North Korea included, if at least one person grows a beard. We’ll travel all the way to North Korea if one person is allowed to grow a beard because of us.
That’s a very admirable position to hold. Now, The Beards are also a real grass roots band who gained a lot of popularity via word of mouth. I once saw you play a show in front of eight people, and then two years later you sold out The Metro Theatre. When you stepped out in front of 1000 odd people, what was going through your mind.
Beards first and foremost. We find it very hard to think of anything else aside from beards. We were very happy with the amount of people who had grown beards because of our band, and we like people who come to our shows even if they don’t have beards because we love to convert people. We’re very happy with how we’re going, but the battle’s not won yet, every day we see people without beards and it personally makes me sick to my stomach. Obviously we’ve still got a fair bit of work to do, but in Australia people are catching on. Beards are becoming popular again, there are beards on the television now, like that guy on the Channel Ten Commsec Advisory Update, he’s got quite the beard. Beards are coming back into everyday fashion here, which is why we’re spreading our bearded wings and taking on the rest of the world, you know trying to get them to realise that…beards, they’re pretty damn good.
A lot of your lyrics promote violent behaviour towards the beardless. Is having a beard conducive to acts of aggression?
Not really, I mean we believe very strongly in our message and we want people to grow a beard by any means necessary. Ideally people would just grow beards themselves and realise that that’s the way to go, but unfortunately if violence has to be brought in, it’s something that we’re willing to support. But people should realise that having a beard and getting along is the way to go.
There are also a lot of songs about relationships, breakups, heartache etc. Why do you think beards put such a strain on relationships?
Sometimes women can get a bit worried if they’ve got a bearded man, because the man’s too good looking. They might feel like a man shouldn’t be more beautiful than a woman, other times women seem to think that a man with a beard is less clean, or hiding something, but we don’t believe that at all. We think that a man who shaves his beard away is hiding something, and that’s a beard.
It’s interesting that you bring that up, because a recent study has shown that men grow beards to impress each other rather than women, because women apparently prefer stubble to a full beard. Do you think that this hypothesis has any grounding?
I know that I’m definitely impressed when I see a man with a beard, but that’s just me I’m impressed very easily by beards. Women a starting to realise that a man with a big full beard is the way to go, it’s more rugged it’s more manly. You see a man with a little Craig David thing and, you know, that’s not a man, this is a man. I’m pointing at myself right now by the way.
So would you rather impress a woman or a bearded man?
I’d rather impress a bearded man. We [The Beards] impress a lot of women let’s not beat around the bush. But there’s something about seeing that one guy with a huge beard, you nod at him, he gives you a little nod back, and that’s worth all the women in the world to me.
And what about ZZ Top?
[Thinks] It depends if you’re referring to the two bearded members of ZZ Top.
I am, as far as I’m concerned, there are no other members of ZZ Top.
That’s exactly the way that we feel, they have that fill in drummer but they could just use a drum machine if you ask me, he’s not that impressive really. I’d like to meet ZZ Top, but we wouldn’t need to do anything to impress them, I like to think that they would just be impressed by us because we have beards and they have beards.
If you look at it mathematically, you actually have double the amount of bearded members in your band, so really ZZ Top should be looking up to you.
They really should and we’ve been waiting for them to give us a call and ask us to support them, but I think they might’ve lost our number.
You’ve covered so many genres of music in your albums and you do it really well, whether it’s jazz, rock or reggae. Do The Beards come from diverse musical backgrounds?
Music is very secondary to us, we mainly like beards and music is the vehicle that we’ve chosen to spread our propaganda. I guess when it comes to writing a song, we usually find the style of music that suits the type of message, but it always comes back to beards. Beards are our main priority, music is secondary. I personally don’t even like music, if we could exist as a group that just went around and gave classes or seminars about beards I’d prefer to do that, because I’m getting a bit sick of setting up drum kits all the time and having to pack them away, all that sort of stuff. I just want to talk about beards.
Didn’t you try and launch The Introduction to Beard Growth and Maintenance course? Is it still going?
We’ve had a lot of interest in the course, but we haven’t actually run a single class, purely because we’re waiting for it to fill up with people who are dead serious about beards. Also our class is incredibly expensive and people say they can’t afford it but, you know, if you want the best you have to pay for the best.
Just back to the music quickly, what would you say the most bearded genre of music is?
Heavy metal has always been known as quite a beard friendly genre, all you need to do is just look at some of the awesome beards that are around it. The Folk, Roots scene, they have a lot of good beards too, we were just at Bluesfest in Byron Bay and a lot of people there were sporting great beards.
You haven’t dabbled in heavy metal yet, which bearded topic would suit a metal song?
Hmmmm. [Thinks] That’s a good question. Probably something about how Satan thinks that he’s all powerful, but his beard isn’t overly powerful. Our beards are more powerful so we should be ruling hell, something like that. There’s a lot Nordic themes which are heavily beard influenced that we could use as well.
Over the years, your beard has grown longer, thicker and fuller. How has this improved your abilities as a musician?
Before I grew a beard I couldn’t play music, I couldn’t even spell the word music. As my beard grew, my ability to play the drums increased, and now I’ve got a pretty good beard, so I’m a pretty good drummer. It just goes to show that growing a beard is pretty good.
There was a time however where you suffered an injury which almost took you off the drums for good. What happened and, more importantly, what did your beard do to help?
I had an injury while we were on tour down at the snow, where I broke my back so I was out for a number of months. My beard really helped me because I was confined to my room for many, many months, I was quite alone during that time but my beard was always there to keep me warm and cosy. I think if I had a bigger beard that covered my body completely maybe I wouldn’t have broken my back, it would’ve worked as some sort of a cushion. So now my goal is to grow a beard that’s big enough to cover my entire body, creating an impenetrable force field of manliness that will leave me indestructible.
Do you ever consider what might have been had you not had a beard?
I assume that if I had no beard I would be dead, but that would have happened long before I broke my back. Just the depression of living a beardless life would’ve finally caught up with me. But I shudder to think about what life would’ve been like without a beard, I don’t think I would’ve made it this far. That’s the reason we exist as a band, to help people through tough times.
You’re not just great musicians, you’re also great performers who go all out on stage. Does having a beard offer additional energy reserves?
Definitely, having a beard helps every single thing in your life in every way possible. Let me just make that clear, it helps you be stronger, fitter, funnier and better looking. We like to put as much of our energy into our shows as possible, and we definitely find that the best way to do that is to drink a lot of water, exercise together a lot, eat well and grow beards. And also consume lots of alcohol.
Based on that answer, it sounds like “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” by Daft Punk is all about beards.
I reckon it is about beards and I think you’ll find that under their helmets, both members have excellent, excellent beards.
That wouldn’t surprise me one bit. With so much science behind beards, the idea of shaving off your body hair for greater aerodynamics in athletics or swimming is completely wrong.
Look you might be scientifically correct if you want to get all technical about aerodynamics, but if you’re like me, I don’t have time for that sort of stuff, having a beard makes you better at everything. That’s scientifically proven by us, The Beards.
It’s not just science, there’s also an artistic, literary and philosophical side to beards. Someone told me that Karl Marx used the time that he would have wasted shaving to write Das Kapital, The Communist Manifesto and other philosophical works. What do you do with the time you save by not having to shave?
That’s a great question, I usually spend the average amount of time that it takes a person to shave, be it ten minutes, I actually don’t know how long it takes someone to shave. I usually take that time to look at myself in the mirror and gently massage my beard, sometimes I brush it and do the general beard maintenance that’s required when you grow a beard that’s as good looking as mine.
Earlier you mentioned that seeing a beardless person makes you physically ill, but are there ever moments where you worry that somebody might ruin the glory of the beard. You know, like hipsters?
There are unfortunately people who give beards a bad name, Kyle Sandilands is a perfect example. I don’t think he deserves to have a beard. He hasn’t got much of a beard, but it’s still too much of a beard for him if you ask me. People like that tend to worry me when they grow beards, they think that they’re allowed to go on commercial radio and act like he does, but really with a great beard comes great responsibility because once you’ve got a beard you don’t want to start being as arrogant and awful as a typical clean chin. There’s a lot of responsibility when you sport an epic beard.
Do you have any memorable stories about how you’ve dealt with the beardless?
Normally I like to just ignore them completely even if they start talking to me. Now that we’ve been a band for a few years we’re starting to make some money, so we can afford to employ a close protection team of bearded men who will swiftly put any beardless person who bothers us… well they’ll just end them instantly. That’s the best method I’ve found but mostly ignoring them really, if you ignore them they tend to go away. And remember, they’re more scared of you than you are of them.
I have a beard, what can I do as a member of a predominately beardless community?
You’re already doing the right thing and showing your community what having a beard is all about. Just do your normal thing and everyone will realise that by having a beard, you’re right.
The Beards tour Australia in June:
31/5: Jive, Adelaide SA
7/6: The Capitol Bar, Perth WA
8/6: Prince of Wales Hotel, Bunbury WA
13/6: Pelly Bar, Frankston VIC
14/6: Theatre Royal, Castlemaine VIC
15/6: HiFi Bar, Melbourne VIC
21/6: HiFi Bar, Brisbane QLD
22/3: The Northern Hotel, Byron Bay NSW
27/6: Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle NSW
28/6: Waves, Wollongong NSW
29/6: Metro Theatre, Sydney NSW