Chatting while he catches five spare minutes in London, The Beard’s bassist Nathaniel Beard is quietly fuming underneath his luscious double arrowhead beard. Two Sundays ago, the band played the Bearded Theory festival, on the outskirts of Derby in the UK. The problem was that it lived up to its name. It was bearded only in theory.
Only one other band on the bill sported a (singular) beard – a member of The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing. “Well they can be blamed for that then,” Nathaniel says. “I can certainly blame them for that. For only having one beard.”
Nathaniel Beard wants everyone in the world to have a beard. Before I can ask if it’s too lofty an ambition, he snaps, “I think it’s the right level of ambition. You don’t want to dilute your dreams. If you set out to do something, you don’t want to compromise on what that goal is. I personally will not rest until every single person in the world has a beard.”
“Even the women and the children and all the animals as well,” he declares. “But we’re focusing on humans first.” His first great (human) breakthrough came at the UK’s Great Escape festival.
“There were very few beards in the audience but I think we convinced many people to grow beards,” he says. “There were many children in the audience and we convinced them to grow up and grow a beard. I see all children as a potential beard. Once they reach the right age, they’ll remember what they learned in their youth.”
Punters at The Beards shows immediately feel the fervour The Beards have for facial hair. They’ll praise the bearded and hold the clean-shaven up as targets for boos and hisses. Nathaniel would ideally make examples of them on stage, but he doesn’t “like getting that close to beardless people.
“I am concerned that someone whipped up in a frenzy from our propaganda might just hurt the guy or something. We don’t want to destroy the guy’s face; we just want to put a beard on it. We still cultivate an atmosphere of shame so that anyone without a beard feels guilty. We tell them that shame is perfectly natural, and it’s just their body telling them to grow a beard.”
The Beards write songs about beards; it’s all they sing about. It’s all they’ll ever sing about. They’re currently writing their fourth album and it’s predictably in tribute to beards. Nathaniel felt uneasy about releasing another set of songs about beards, fearful they might have tapped the well of furry creativity dry.
“We have a lot of ideas coming in,” he says. “It turns out that having a beard provides an unlimited source of inspiration. We’ve got a power ballad about beards, an electro-rock song called There’s A Bearded Man Inside Me, we’ve got a sort of ‘60s pop kind of song which is called Strokin’ My Beard, and we’ve got a burster of a track called All The Bearded Ladies.
“I want to tell you right now that it’s not a parody song of Beyoncé’s All The Single Ladies. We don’t delve into the realm of parody songs, we think that’s for someone else to do. We write original songs about beards.”
Nathaniel’s “beard revolution” has no intention of stopping. Outsiders might think there’s a sinister bearded underground poised to take over. It’s far less insidious than the unbearded envisage.
“There’s not a secret bearded society,” Nathaniel explains. “There’s just a bearded society, and we’re not hiding from anyone. Anyone can join the bearded society by growing a beard. Of course, this will just soon be known as society.“
BY TOM VALCANIS