Whether or not you consider them a serious musical project, you’ve got to admire The Beards’ dedication to their muse. Guitarist Joshua Fielder – AKA Facey McStubblington – shares his emphatic love of the male appendage with a blushing Tyler McLoughlan.
Novelty bands come, then inevitably go, though they're generally long gone by the time a couple of singles have worn out an initial burst of punter enthusiasm. The Beards of Adelaide, who formed for a one-off gig seven hairy years ago, are defying this trend by continuing to rise to national notoriety with this month's release of their third album Having A Beard Is The New Not Having A Beard. Just last week gaining a serious industry nod for APRA's song of the year for the album's first single You Should Consider Having Sex With A Bearded Man, guitarist Joshua Fielder couldn't be happier with the public endorsement received in triple j's latest Hottest 100 vote.
“The whole four of us were in different places receiving text messages from friends saying, 'You got in – you're number 99'. It wasn't quite the fairytale that we'd hoped for but it was still a lot of fun.” Though he sounds like an ungrateful, bearded git, Fielder's disappointment lies not with just scraping into the countdown, rather that he wasn't by the radio whooping it up with his bandmates as it was broadcast. “[I was disappointed] that we weren't all together and, you know, like being partially homoerotic with one another, which is how we generally celebrate anything,” he quips.
Whilst there's no need to ask where the inspiration for their third album comes from, Fielder will joyfully talk about beardy songs all day long.
“Of course there's You Should Consider Having Sex With A Bearded Man. There's also the flipside for women, which is Why Having A Beard Is Better Than Having A Woman, and it just sort of lists the reasons why beards are better than women. It's probably a bit harsh on women, but it's a story that needs to be told,” he says firmly. “Also I think probably the final track to the third album is, how would you call it, the masterpiece of our career to date in that it summarises our stance so well – better than we have before, more succinctly – and that one's called There's Just Nothing Better Than A Beard. It summarises the whole ethos very well I think, not to mention it's an eight-minute epic rock song which makes me as the guitarist very happy.”
Dropping his alter ego for a brief moment, Fielder seriously discusses the reason why The Beards seem to be moving beyond novelty status ahead of their 14-date national tour.
“We've sort of always positioned ourselves when people have asked for a genre beyond our first response which is bearded music, we normally say bittersweet folk rock, but this album is leaning a bit more towards straight-ahead rock. Where I [would] normally utilise the acoustic guitar more, this is an electrified album – [vocalist] Johann [Beardraven] plays a lot more piano and organs and stuff and it's a lot higher end quality, and lots of layering, lots of extra vocals. There's a track in there that's sort of Tom Waits-y jazz, and then we've also tried country and western almost… I'm definitely very, very happy with the album and I look forward to hearing it myself later today,” he says as his McStubblington persona kicks back in again.
Despite their clear dedication to the manly appendage that features in every single one of their songs, surely The Beards are, well, bearded out by now.
“Oh look, I was told that you weren't gonna waste my time with silly questions about not singing about beards. Just smarten up will you?” he shouts down the line. “No, we wouldn't ever not sing about beards, and we love it more than ever you might say, so even if that's possible, we love it more than ever, by crikey.”
Fielder is clear that the love is in no way extended to moustaches.
“Aaaargh. Boo. Yuck,” he spits. “A moustache is a poor man's beard. If anything it's an insult more so than a beardless face, because it says, 'Oh look, I can grow facial hair, but I choose not to. I'm shaving around this bit here'. It's a fuckin' cop out it is – it's a cop out to women who can't grow beards, that's what it is.”
Even if one of The Beards were to develop the unfortunate medical condition of alopecia and be physically unable to grow hair, Fielder would have no sympathy.
“Well if that were to happen to any one of us, and I don't mind putting myself in there, if that happened they would not only be kicked out of the band, but probably kicked in the groin as well on the way out – in their hairless, hairless groin. We actually have a binding agreement, legal partnership agreements that we have to sign for whatever reasons, and we got to change some of the clauses in there; one of them is if you lost your beard, you would be out of the band. And if you lost it deliberately, then you would be out of the band and publicly humiliated. And that is a legal binding document for the four of us.
“I'm not even joking about that one,” he continues, extending his hatred for the beardless state to local Brisbane rapper DaNaj The Unstoppable, who recently rid himself of a luscious, flowing beard for the Leukaemia Foundation's World's Greatest Shave. “He is making a massive spectacle just for shaving off a beard, and that's not really something we can get behind, is it? We were actually toying with the idea of trying to raise enough money to outbid the people who are getting him to shave it off, so that we can pay him to keep his beard. He can give that to charity,” he growls. “There's too much of this in charities; too much shaving going on. How bout, grow for a cure? How bout that? Why is that so absurd?
“We've been working on this concept for the past, oh three or four years ago I think we started it, as a kick back to Movember which we started – it's called Decembeard, and it's when everyone in December grows back their beards that they've shaved off and raises money for various charities. We've got no problem giving money to charities to save bearded lives, but it's the shaving that we abhor.”
With the suggestion that December is not an ideal time to be asking for charity dollars considering the Santa focus, Fielding is utterly outraged.
“Are you kidding, he's our Jesus. Except for of course Jesus who had a beard as well. He's good – Jesus is Santa Claus' son, I'm pretty sure; I never got to the back of the Bible but I'm pretty sure that's what it says back there. Santa Claus and Charles Darwin got together, got busy with one another and bang, nine months later – Jesus.”