Since The Beards made their way to Stockholm recently, Amy decided to grow out a beard of her very own and hop of a plane over to Sweden and sit down to chat with the guys about the tour, The Beard Album, and of course, beards. After a long discussion, we were able to get some great insight on the wonderful world of beards!
Before we start, have you ever had a truly bearded female interviewer like this before?
Johann Beardraven (JBR): I don’t think we’ve had one with this beard. It’s really convincing. I’ve got to be honest, I can’t stop staring at it, so… if things start to get weird…
JBR: Well we’ve had female interviewers that will wear a fake beard. But you’ll find that they’ll get sick of them halfway through the interview and they’ll just take them off, and then we will then storm out of the room.
Nathaniel Beard (NB): Because you can’t do that with a real beard. It’s a lifelong commitment! You can’t just take it off because it momentarily becomes inconvenient.
JBR: No. But we’re very confident that this won’t happen this time.
I can’t even pull this one off.
JBR: Great! And neither should you.
Of course. So, is this your first time in Scandinavia?
JBR: This is our first time, yes, this is our first time in Sweden and we’re very excited. But having beards means we’re just always really excited.
NB: We could be in hell and we’d be pretty excited.
Excellent. Now, you’re going to the more standard European countries after this, I presume. Are you going to France at all?
JBR: We are going to France. We haven’t been to France and we’re not sure about the French and their commitment to beards.
NB: Maybe things are changing now!
JBR: And things will start to change once we get there.
John Beardman Jr. (JBMJ): They might need it the most, you know.
JBR: Yeah, they might need our message more than anyone. We know that here in Sweden, the beard culture and beard enthusiasm is already quite strong.
It does seem that way. I saw a lot of great beards in town today and every place I was at had probably 50% beard population.
JBR: That’s a good percentage.
NB: Well apparently beards have become a lot more prevalent in Stockholm and Sweden in general over the last few years. Apparently it used to be a pretty beardless city not that long ago. Within… maybe about ten years ago. It was a pretty beardless city apparently.
I wonder if that has something to do with the metal culture here, because metal is a very beardy genre here.
[murmurs of agreement]
That actually kind of brings me into the next area of questioning. There’s a lot of braiding in beards in metal, in a sort of Viking-esque way. What are your thoughts of the restricting of beards into braids and beard decorating?
NB: I think it’d be a bit over-the-top for us to be against such a thing.
Facey McStubblington (FMS): I certainly wouldn’t use the word “restricting.” It’s sort of more of an expression of your own personality and so, you know, we’re all for it. Whatever takes your fancy. We’re all for it.
NB: Unless what takes your fancy is not having a beard.
Excellent! [laughs] Do you think you might ever try doing a metal song since you’ve kind of flirted with different genres and metal seems to be a very beardy genre.
JBR: Yeah, yeah… we like to think of ourselves as being quite metal… but we’re not. [laughter]
FMS: We’ve always had a lot of followers from that faction, you know, metalhead followers, and the respect is certainly mutual, to metalheads with beards. We love these people. We don’t want to offend them by having some sort of attempt at their genre and stuffing it up, so we just give them a good hearty bearded nod and be ourselves, which is not all that metal, as previously stated.
So do you find there are any genres that are particularly beard-inspiring then?
JBR: I don’t know. I mean, I guess we started out fairly folk in the early stuff that we did and there’s a certain beardiness to that in the folksy, bluesy kind of…
NB: I guess that was the music that our beards were inspiring us to make back then, but they were quite short beards, so they were like support beards, so it was like a simple acousticly-driven folky kind of vibe, but as our beards grew to a more of a respectable length…
JBR: We were led into different areas.
NB: Yeah, but we generally just follow the inspiration of our beards and we basically do what our beards tell us to do. Because we honestly believe that we’re not in control of our beards; that our beards are in control of us.
I do get that feeling a lot of the time.
JBR: Can you hear your beard speaking to you?
Yeah, all the time.
JBR: I can hear voices. I assume they’re coming from my beard.
I even hear all of your beards whispering to me.
JBR: Yeah, sorry about my beard. He says some funny things sometimes.
It’s all good. I took it as a compliment. [laughter] All right, so moving more towards the songs, do you guys all contribute equally to the song-writing process or is there one mastermind?
NB: It’s more beard-driven.
Ok, so is it equal throughout your beards then?
JBR: Sometimes we’ll have a writing session but we’ll just end up staring at each other’s beards for so long that nothing gets done. We’ve missed sound checks, gigs, tours… just so distracted by each other’s beards. Sometimes it’s better to write by yourself with no mirrors.
No reflective surfaces.
NB: Yeah, you just want to get some solitude and some reflective contemplative time and spend that thinking about what kind of beard-related song you should write.
JBR: What’s the right message? Beards.
Do you guys have any particular favorites from The Beard Album? Like personal songs for each of you, or something that really resonates with your beard?
JBR: Ah, just all of those songs are so good! You know, because they’re about beards. It’s hard to say. We’ve started playing “Touch Me in the Beard” on this tour and I quite like that.
NB: I’m a big fan of I Like Beards.
FMS: I was just going to say that’s my favorite.
NB: It succinctly encapsulates our central core message.
JBR: It really sums up how we feel about beards.
Well I’m not going to lie, but my personal favorite was “All the Bearded Ladies.”
JBR: Well, we had spent a lot of time directing our songs towards men because they tend to be the more bearded of the two sexes, but we thought it’s about time that the bearded ladies get the recognition that they deserve. And, within weeks of releasing that song, Conchita Wurst won Eurovision.
NB: That was us.
JBR: If you’re asking, yes, we are taking full credit for that. You’re welcome, planet Earth!
So there was some serious potential in the bonus track on The Beard Album. Will any of those songs make a comeback, do you think, or did they go into the bonus track because they didn’t quite make the cut.
JBR: Well they didn’t quite make the cut this time, but we may revisit them. The important thing for people to understand is that we are not short of ideas for songs about beards. We have too many.
NB: I think it’s fair to say that if in the future you hear any of those bonus tracks on a future album of ours, we have actually run out of ideas. So we’re assuming that that won’t happen, so therefore you won’t be hearing them on any future album. Unfortunately, because some of them yes, had potential.
If you go to a Beard Accessory Store you’ll find combs and beard wax and that sort of thing, but what sort of unusual items might we bearded people buy there that the non-bearded would be surprised to find?
JBR: There’s beard-only shampoos, specifically for your beard hair.
NB: Because beard hair is actually coarser and tougher than normal hair, so if you use the beard-only shampoo on your normal hair it really, really burns. So it’s really important that you only use that on your beard.
JBR: It’s good to see the realm of beard accessories is growing quite strong. And here in Sweden there’s a company that make really good products that we’ve been using. The Mr. Beard Family stuff.
NB: Fantastic products.
JBR: Yeah, just the range is… and the research and development that’s going into beard-related merchandise. It’s a booming industry, which is exciting. Just like my beard is booming. From my face. Beards.
All right. Some more general beard questions then.
[murmurs of approval]
If one of you four lost your beard in a dreadful accident, like a fire or something, what would happen to that person? Would they be thrown out of the band?
NB: It’s unlikely that a fire could damage any of our beards. But let’s just say hypothetically that one of us, let’s say John Beardman Jr. here woke up beardless. Let’s say he fell asleep and someone came and stole his beard and he woke up with no beard…
JBR: It is a desirable beard though. I could imagine people wanting to steal it.
JBMJ: People are trying to get this beard all the time. Well, I guess if I woke up tomorrow and I had no beard, I guess I’d be instantly kicked out of the band, kicked off the tour bus, left without my passport or any foreign currency in this strange city, and that’s the way I’d want it, actually.
NB: Also, we’d actually go further than that because the three of us, as per our band contract, which we’ve all signed – this is all in a legally binding document – the three of us are then contractually obliged to actively destroy your livelihood, reputation, and all of your contacts and basically turn you into just a shell of a man and actively destroy you.
JBR: Which he would be anyway.
NB: And that’s what you’d want.
JBMJ: Yeah, of course. I signed the contract. I didn’t really read it, but I should have read that part.
NB: But I think you’ll agree that a life without a beard is no life at all.
JBMJ: Oh yeah.
JBR: I would instantly end my own life, I reckon. Rather than face the rest of you guys with no beard.
JBMJ: But anyway, luckily nothing can damage our beards, so we don’t have to worry about this.
Ok, next question about beards then: what is your opinion on the concept of mutton chops or even the Lemmy beard that is the mutton chop/moustache?
NB: I’ve got a pretty hardline stance on this.
JBR: You do. But you are particularly hardline.
NB: I am. I am definitely an extremist on the issue. But I believe firmly that, just to the fiber of my being, I believe firmly that a beard needs to connect burn-to-burn. So sideburn-to-sideburn, they have to connect somehow. I don’t mind if it goes over the lip, under the lip, or even via the chin. They’re all beards. But to walk around with anything less than that I find to be a personal insult and an abomination.
JBR: So the monkey tail beard?
NB: The monkey tail beard style… those are actually designed by a shaving company as an anti-beard piece of propaganda, basically saying your beard looks awful, look how it reminds you of a rodent or a squirrel or something…
NB: Yeah, and it was actually put out there by… I can’t recall which company, but someone like Gillette. I’m willing to just say it was Gillette.
JBR: We’ll say it was Gillette.
NB: You know, screw those guys.
Next beard-related question then is that, I for one like to make sure there are as many beards in my house as possible.
[murmurs of approval]
So, my cats have big bushy beards. Like really huge beards. So what animal do you all think, or individually think could mostly benefit from having a beard.
JBR: Umm, well, that’s a hard question because I would say every single animal would be improved by a beard.
But which one do you think needs it most?
FMS: The great white shark has pretty bad press. The man-eater. Perhaps if it got a beard then it could stand to gain a lot.
NB: People would trust it more. Rightly or wrongly.
JBR: I’ll tell you who could’ve used a beard. The dodo. It never would’ve gone extinct.
I think my pick would’ve been the giraffe, because there’s just so much neck to cover.
JBMJ: Oh, that is a really good answer!
NB: You’ve thought of this before though!
JBR: No, no, she’s got a beard.
NB: It’s the best answer.
FMS: It’s a great answer.
Well I won’t deny that I do think a lot about what kind of creatures do need beards. I think a lot about giraffes and how great they would be with these glorious long beards.
NB: I don’t think I’m ever going to look at a giraffe again without imagining a giant long beard.
FMS: So thank you!
NB: Yeah, thank you for that delightful image.
No problem at all. So next up, who has the world’s most influential beard? There have been some great beards out there. Darwin’s beard. Santa’s beard.
JBMJ: Jesus was pretty influential.
JBR: Abraham Lincoln had a pretty influential beard.
NB: I believe a string of presidents after him sported a beard, but he was the first bearded president. I think that’s true.
JBR: Let’s say that’s true.
JBMJ: Jesus Christ, he had a beard, and he couldn’t be killed. You know, they killed him, he came back, and like, “Check it out, I’m back! My beard’s here and I’m going to hang out with some more bearded dudes in this place called heaven.”
Now that I think of it, God has a beard, does he?
NB: I think that God is a beard.
Alright, well I know you guys have performed during World Beard Day, which is pretty excellent.
Have you ever attended The World Beard and Moustache Championships? Well, let’s just call them The World Beard Championships because who cares about moustaches.
JBR: We went to Alaska a few years ago.
NB: In 2009.
JBR: In Anchorage, and it was really good because there were so many beards, but it was kind of sad because there were beards competing against other beards. That’s not really how we like to roll. We’d rather… we liked the event, but take out the judging of the beards and just keep the booze…
Better yet, give everyone a prize for just showing up in a great beard.
NB: Yeah, and the judges can be there and all they do is judge people who don’t have beards.
FMS: Interestingly, we played at the opening ceremony there, and the crowd was almost exclusively bearded. Our passion comes from trying to help the beardless really to become bearded, so that’s the fire and the energy and our performances are trying to change the world and performing to a crowd that was already bearded sort of took that away. Needless to say the performance that followed was one of the more insipid of our careers.
JBR: We were preaching to the converted.
So did you see any particularly inspiring beards there?
JBR: We met Jack Passion, multiple world champion of beards. That was good to see that beard in the flesh. I mean, in the beard.
NB: I heard he killed a man.
JBR: Jack Passion?
NB: Not true though. Jack Passion, as far as I know, has never killed.
JBR: We don’t know that he didn’t.
JBMJ: I reckon if Jack Passion killed a man, that man had it coming, because Jack Passion has a beard, and I reckon that he would know…
NB: He knows to trust his beard.
So, of course beards are great places to stash things for later, but it’s also pretty common for things to creep into beards because they just want to be next to them. Have you ever found anything really amazing in your beard that, you didn’t know where it came from?
JBMJ: I found Nathaniel Beard in my beard in the tour bus this morning, actually, when I woke up.
NB: Our beards were interlocked.
JBMJ: That’s not strange or unusual though.
NB: On Easter morning I woke up and my wife had placed an Easter egg in my beard.
JBR: Is that true?
NB: Yeah, but it also had attracted a family of ants. Large ants. Like fire ants.
JBR: Do you know if they were a family?
NB: I assume they at least knew each other. They were working together cooperatively to try to eat the egg and were incidentally biting my face quite a bit and yeah… I mean, she meant well when she did it. It was a nice gesture.
JBR: She’s dead now.
Well we have Christmas coming up soon, so if for Christmas, someone, anyone, would grow a beard for you, who would you want? I mean, excluding everyone, but one specific person, if you could really pick one person to grow a beard for you for Christmas, who would it be?
NB: Oh man, that’s a good question.
JBR: One person… umm… Barrack Obama.
NB: His popularity really needs a boost in America. He’s currently got low popularity ratings, and I think a beard would just turn that around and he could finish his term on a high note.
JBMJ: And they’re all over the shop there. They need some clear bearded leadership going on.
NB: Obviously, if you could pick everybody, you would.
JBR: Barrack Obama AND everybody else. Everyone, have a beard please.
FMS: Except Kanye West. He can shave his beard.
NB: I heard he killed a man.
NB: Yeah. I don’t know where.
Well we should wrap this up here. So last question.
JBR: Is it about beards?
It is about beards.
What is the weirdest beard-related experience you can think of, off the top of your head?
JBR: I reckon the weirdest story out there was the one with the guy with the scissors.
NB: Oh yeah, ok, so we were playing in our home city of Adelaide and after the show we were doing a kind of meet-and-greet thing where we were meeting people and stroking their beards and all that kind of thing, as we do after a show, and this guy came up to me. He had this crazy look in his eye. He made a B-line straight for me and with one hand, grabbed my beard, and with the other hand suddenly produced a pair of scissors and made as if to cut my beard off, and then paused, and looked me in the eye, and said, “That’s how easily it could happen. You should watch your back.”
JBR: And then he disappeared into the night.
Did he have a beard?
NB: You know what, I don’t actually remember, but I feel like if he was beardless, I feel like it would have stuck in my mind. I would have seen him as a threat as he approached me. I would have seen him as the enemy, whereas because he was bearded, I trusted him. But he didn’t actually mean me any harm. He was trying to teach me a valuable lesson. Which, by the way, is why I always carry a weapon on me at all times.
JBR: I’ve heard that guy’s killed a man.
NB: Anyway, it was scary and it was definitely weird. But luckily I still have my beard.
JBMJ: Yeah, luckily for you.
He was lucky that your beard didn’t retaliate too.
NB: My beard was drunk at the time, so it was less likely to retaliate quickly enough.
Fair enough. Well thank you so much, this has been fantastic. My beard is very happy to meet all of your beards.
JBR: Once again, great beard.
JBMJ: Yes. We really appreciate it.
FMS: It’s been amazing.
It’s really happy to be in the presence of other beards right now.
FMS: I can see how happy it is. We’re going to have to draw straws to see which one of us gets to propose.
Can I pick all of you?
JBR: Well, I don’t know, maybe in this country.
NB: Yeah, we’re not familiar with the laws here.
Well, we’ll figure this out later and I’ll let you get on with the show! Thanks guys!
Text: Amy Wiseman | Band photo: Jana Blomqvist | Interview photos: Marco Manzi