The Beards

Source: The Beards Facebook

Source: The Beards Facebook

If ever there were a subculture in need of its passion and views thrust upon the world in a homoerotic but comradely, folk-rock kind of way, it would be that of the beard.

The Beards formed in 2005 after four bearded South Australians saw a need to express their love of beards in song form.  Johann Beardraven, Nathaniel Beard, John Beardman Jr, and Facey McStubblington have since become hirsute heroes of the facial hair world.

Writing and performing only songs about beards, some titles include “No Beard, No Good”, “You Should Consider Having Sex with a Bearded Man”, “Why Having a Beard is Better than Having a Woman”, and what is possibly their most famous song, “If Your Dad Doesn’t Have a Beard, You’ve Got Two Mums”.

The band currently has three albums and a world tour under its belt, as well as placing 99th in Triple J’s Hottest 100 countdown for 2011. In 2009, the band traveled to Alaska to perform at the opening night of, and compete in, the World Beard and Moustache Championships. They most recently headlined a show in Sydney, Australia to celebrate World Beard Day.

A large part of the success of the band thus far is they also put on a fantastic live show. Jen Pearce was lucky enough to see them in concert earlier this year.

“They’re performers and showmen, as well as musicians,” she said.

“All their songs, because they’re all beard-oriented, even though that’s a bit gimmicky, they really owned it.”

She said the show had a really good feeling, and that it was filled with positive energy.

“Even though I wasn’t [more familiar with the music], it was still (…) a good atmosphere. You still got sucked into the whole vibe of what was going on.

She also noted that it was interesting to watch the quirky  things that the band would be doing amongst themselves on stage.

“… they were getting people to stroke their beards,

You look away and you look back and all of a sudden oh, the guitarist is over there next to the drummer, and in between hits on the drum, he’s stroking the beard of the guitarist.”

“It was just really silly but it was fun, it was all really fun.”

She was adamant that she would see them perform again.

“Yes, definitely see them again (…) I’ll take my bearded guy next time!”

One must wonder how much more there is to say about beards. But with an already cult-like following in the bearded community, surely they will never run out of things to say.

Beards through the ages

Throughout the centuries, men have sported many assorted styles of facial hair; the most prominent and eye-catching being the beard. It was not until recent times that the beard had become something of a cultural icon, inspiring cult-like following amongst men and women alike. In recent times society has seen the rise of such things as facial hair related clubs, competitions and music, as well as pop culture motifs and healthcare campaigns. So, where exactly did they come from and what is it about the beard that draws so many people in?

In scientific terms, facial hair occurs as a result of the hormone dihydrotestosterone stimulating the hair follicles on a person’s face and/or neck. This hormone is also linked with balding, so unfortunately for some men they are robbed of the privilege of sporting both hairy features. In ancient times throughout history, the beard was considered a symbol of wisdom, honour and power. It was not uncommon for a man’s beard to be cut off or shaved as a punishment in places like Ancient India and Greece. In Ancient Macedon, Alexander the Great declared that all of his soldiers must remain clean shaven as he was worried that their beards may be grabbed and used as handles by their enemies. Notable bearded figures much later in time included Karl Marx, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Dickens. As the centuries went by, the beard faded in and out of fashion.  By the end of the 20th century, the full beard had become a rare sight among men, with close-clipped and two-day shadow styles becoming the preferred looks.

It is now mid-2013 and the beard is making a resurgence with force. Beard clubs are forming left and right for men from all walks of life to share their passion for facial hair with one another, as well as the women who support them. Beard growing competitions are becoming more and more popular, where the men are separated from the boys and they are recognised and celebrated for their manliness; the most prominent of these being the World Beard and Moustache Championships. If the increasing number of clubs for bearded men weren’t enough, there is also a band whose sole purpose is to spread their love of beards with the world. The Beards, from Adelaide, South Australia, comprises of four burly, heavily bearded blokes who perform songs about all aspects of beards, bearded life, their comical loathing for clean shaven men and beard loving ladies.

It is difficult to determine one single reason for the beard’s popularity in society today. If one thing is for certain, it can only continue to grow as they do.