The Beards are an Australian rock 'n' roll group that sings about beards. Like, all of their songs--from a nearly decade-long career--are about beards. Here's their latest single:
They just played SXSW in Austin, so we asked Johann Beardraven (lead vocals/keys/sax/kazoo) about breaking into the American market. And, mostly, about beards. Read on for his answers and more of the band's videos.
What's been your experience in the U.S.? Do you find a different ratio of bearded to unbearded men here?
It's been pretty good so far. This has been the first time that we've really ventured outside Australia in any meaningful touring way...obviously everyone in Australia now has a beard (because of us) so we always knew we weren't going to find quite as many beards in this part of the world.
Having said that, we have been pleasantly surprised by the amount of good quality beards so far, particularly at SXSW. Whenever we're in a new place, we like to play a game called "Spot That Beard." Basically, if you see someone with a beard, you win. Everyone's been winning quite a lot.
What percentage of your fans are beardless? (Male and female.)
It's kind of hard to say. I never pay any attention to anyone without a beard, so I couldn't really tell you how many beardless fans we have. When it comes to women, we like to encourage a practice called "bearding." It involves tying your hair around the front of your face to replicate a beard. It looks great and it's really starting to catch on.
Do men without beards just not deserve to hear your music?
While nothing disgusts me more than someone without a beard enjoying our music, it's important to remember that every clean-shaven face is a potential beard. So when someone without a beard hears us, and then goes away and grows themselves a full thick beard, that's really what it's all about, y'know.
But we would certainly prefer it if the only beardless people that listen to us are the ones who are seriously considering growing a beard. And when there's someone without a beard in the audience, we prefer them to face the other way so we don't have to look at their awful beardless faces.
Who are your biggest influences as musicians? Who are your beards' biggest influences as beards?
Well, it's important to remember that we don't really like music all that much--we ONLY like beards. We'll only listen to music if it's beard-related, so we pretty much only listen to ourselves. So I'd say we're our own biggest influence. Which works out great, really, as we get to listen to ourselves every time we do a gig.
As far as influential beards, there's just so many. Chuck Norris, Father Christmas, Gandalf the Grey... all excellent bearded role models.
What are the top five beards in rock 'n' roll history? (ZZ Top may only count as one entry.)
ZZ Top are definitely number one. Do you know that Billy Gibbons once turned a million dollars from Gillette to shave his beard? That's bearded commitment right there.
Number two is probably Cat Stevens. He just has such a long history of having a beard--he's changed his name but never changed his beard. Kenny Rogers would be next--his beard is just so white and pristine, it's truly a thing of beauty. I'll say Seasick Steve at number four--again, he's just so committed to the way of the beard. And Peaches has to make the list too--she's just so damn hot with that beard.
Jackman's always been a proud beard-wearer, and Hemsworth has a decent-looking scruffy one. There's plenty of good ones though--Pat Rafter, Gotye, Ned Kelly... the list goes on. My favorite Aussie beard would probably be my father, Walter Beardraven's. He was Australian Beard Champion five years running back in the '80s, and he went on to become the mayor of Sydney. He taught me that having a beard is what it's all about.
Best religious beards: Amish, Mennonites, Hasidic Jews, or some other sect?
Yeah, they're all good examples of blokes growing beards together. I like a good Muslim beard too. We're actually in the process of starting our own religion. It will definitely involve having a beard, and probably involve us all living together in some kind of compound away from all beardless people. It's gonna be pretty good, I reckon.
You recommend dumping a girl if she asks you to shave. What if she's perfect in every other way? Would you shave for, say, Kate Upton?
I would never shave for any woman, or for any other reason. In fact, I would rather die a slow agonizing death than ever shave my beard off. We get guys telling us all the time that their girlfriend or their boss told them to shave, and it really makes us angry. No one has the right to tell you to shave.
What do you think of the stubble fad of recent years--is that a positive sign, or just guys trying to have it both ways, growing facial hair without a real beard?
Well, it's a good start--some good thick stubble is better than nothing at all. Besides, we're pretty confident that once people see how good they look with some hair on their face, they'll want to go all the way and get a good old-fashioned beard. Seriously, beards are great. Why wouldn't you want one? Mmmm. I'm stroking my own beard right now. It feels great, man.
What's your policy on mustaches?
Mustaches are bulls**t.
What if they're humongous American Civil War-style mustaches?
I don't care how big it is--if you're shaving most of your facial hair off, it's an insult to bearded men everywhere. I mean, have a mustache by all means, but make sure you grow the rest of your beard as well. A mustache on its own doesn't count. Also, we don't care much for goatees either.