The Beards
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The Beards

Despite outcry from the bearded and non-bearded communities alike, the follically fortunate foursome from Adelaide, The Beards, are finished, finito and currently on a final tour to wish farewell to their furry friends from Fitzroy to Freo and everywhere in between. I caught up with bass player and vocalist Nathaniel Beard one last time for all the hairy details.

“It’s bitter sweet because we’ve had such a great time touring extensively around the country and seeing so many cool places and getting to know people – it’s definitely a bit sad that we’re not coming back,” Nathaniel says candidly. “However, all we wanted was to make the world a beardier place and I feel like we’ve really achieved that goal,” he smiles.

“Although there are some exceptions to the rule – Tasmania being one. When we went there for the first time in 2009, they already knew that everyone should have a beard and they were already abiding by our code. We were just preaching to the converted there, but that’s still fun as well.”

Since forming in 2005 with plans to play a one-off show, the four-piece have become an international hit. They released a self-titled album in 2007 and hit the road soon after in a display of unwavering support to beardos everywhere. “I consider shaving to be a fad,” Nathaniel says. “Some people call the current situation a beard-trend, but shaving is a trend and we lost our way for over one hundred years. I feel like the whole world is waking up.”

In the last 11 years The Beards have played at premier venues nationally and at major festivals, including Falls Festival, Big Day Out, Bluesfest and Woodford Folk Festival. They’ve spread their pro-beard message to audiences at SXSW and Canadian Music Week, and played showcases in LA and New York, as well as an unforgettable performance at the internationally renowned World Beard and Moustache Champions in Anchorage, Alaska, in 2009.

The bearded brothers also managed to win over clean-chins in Europe and the UK, according to Nathaniel. “Some of the great bearded cities of the world that we’ve been lucky enough to visit include Hamburg, Munich, Manchester and Glasgow, and it’s just amazing how people are really waking up after this ice-age of shaving.”

In fact, according to one source the band’s pro-beard movement is responsible for close to one million beard converts in the last 10 years. “I think that statistic comes from us, and I’m pretty sure it’s one hundred per cent accurate, but I should warn you that there is a one hundred per cent margin of error,” Nathaniel says in a serious tone.

“Generally, at all the places we’ve played we have noticed an increase in the amount of beards per capita, represented not just in the audience but also in the greater population of those towns as well – which we’re very pleased to report because that was our original intention.”

Knowing that I may never have the opportunity again, I wanted to know what was the greatest single style of beard the band had encountered on their travels – a question Nathaniel answered diplomatically: “I’m really impressed by all beards, from the mightiest, longest bushranger beard, to just your run-of-the-mill employment beard,” he says. “I’m a big fan of all beards, so I don’t like to pit one beard against another, but I’ve noticed that across the world one thing that all beard wearers have in common is that they’re permitted quite a lot of freedom to express themselves through their beards, whereas shaving really limits you to one look – shaven. With a beard you have a canvas to work with, and I think it’s great to see how people express themselves, particularly when it’s a new beard.”

Nathaniel says there were many highlights and special moments in their travels over the years, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing. “On one occasion someone attempted to make an attack on my beard with a pair of scissors,” he says, “but luckily the crisis was averted, and that’s why I consistently carry a weapon at all times – in case anyone tries that again.”

Despite that close shave, Nathaniel insists that they love to connect with their fans. “We’ve always been about removing as many barriers as possible between band and audience, and at the gigs we’ve played so far on this farewell tour there’s been something really special about them and there’s been a great deal of interactivity between us and the people in the audience – particularly those who have beards.”

Those who are lucky enough to see The Beards final hurrah will be treated to not one, but two sets chock full of beard-y fun. “We’re opening for ourselves and giving people as many songs about beards as we could possibly squeeze into one evening,” Nathaniel says. “It’s starting with an acoustic set which we consider to be the sophisticated part of the show, and then it slowly ramps up into an all-out beard frenzy.”

It’s clear that The Beards want to go out with a bang, but the question on every hairy upper lip is what does the future hold for the band responsible for the decline of the bald-faced man? “I have to be a little bit shady on the details, unfortunately. We’re planning to continue being a pro-beard organisation that spends its time propagating beards, but we feel like music has taken us as far as we’re going to go down that path,” Nathaniel explains.

“We need to take our message and deliver it via other mediums, and we hope those mediums will be peaceful and will not involve any violence at all – but we will do whatever we need to do to make sure that more beards are appearing everyday on the faces of the entire human population.”

Written by Natalie Rogers

When & Where: The Loft, Warrnambool – May 25, The Golden Vine, Bendigo – May 26, Karova Lounge, Ballarat – June 23, The Barwon Club, Geelong – June 24 & The Corner Hotel, Melbourne – June 25 & 26

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