No doubt the landscape of modern music has become considerably beardier over the last few years. When it comes to indie and rock these days, if you don't have a beard, you're not authentic. (Lumineers, it's the only thing standing in your way!)
When you're cultivating your own face mitten or lip kitten, it's good to have some moral support from those who understand your struggles and achievements. That's why former show promoter Jeremi Stoker and musician Adam Lee Cogswell formed the Canyon State Beard Club, which is set to have its official launch party this Saturday at Yucca Tap Room, featuring Tramps and Thieves, Bottom Shelf Bourbon and Some Dark Hallow.
We got the hairy lowdown from Stoker and members Jeff Cogswell, and Thomas Craig about the show, membership and the club's policy on chicks with facial hair.
Up On the Sun: Explain a little bit about Canyon State Beard Club. What exactly do you guys do when you're all together?
Stoker: You've probably heard the phrase, "We're a drinking team with a bowling problem" or something similar for a bunch of dudes who want to hang out and drink beer while including some other activity. Well, that's pretty much us. It's a great excuse to get together over a few beers and talk facial hair. We talk about what product someone might be trying and if it's good or not. We do also plan events. We've got some charity events we're working on. We're also planning to hit up the third Beard Team USA Nationals competition in New Orleans in September. So we kick those ideas around and try to put some things in motion.
Are there any particular challenges to living in Arizona with a beard?
Stoker: Well, 117 degrees will always be rough when you're hauling around your own natural scarf. I'd say that's the big one. It'll definitely test your will to continue to grow a fierce beard when you're watching a river of sweat pour out of it. Keeping the skin under your beard moisturized is a must. Luckily, there are some pretty good conditioners out there.
Jeff Cogswell: There are times it can be challenging. It's definitely a commitment and tests your dedication. You just gotta man up and deal with it. I've worked outside on rooftops in Arizona for 12 years with my beard and when you sweat and move around it acts like a nice swamp cooler. As long as there's a nice breeze and you're tough enough, it really isn't that bad.
What makes a beard a beard? For instance, is patchy facial hair all around the face still considered a beard?
Stoker: For me, you gotta come down from the side burns and meet at the chin. Tying in the mustache and the neck hair is a serious plus. But really, there are a million different styles out there. Anything that someone shows dedication to maintaining works for me.
Craig: There are many types of beards and many types of faces who wear them but for me to be called a full beard you have to have the mustache and a full face of hair to be called a beard. But in the arena of bearding there are many levels of what is considered a beard. What's your word of advice for wannabe beardy men who simply can't grow facial hair? Are there any vitamins, supplements, or exercises they can do to grow a robust face sweater?
Stoker: I'm not aware of any Hair Club for Men for guys who can't grow facial hair. Some dudes simply can't grow a beard. And that's OK. It's not really your fault if your heritage, genes, etc. simply won't let it happen. It's unfortunate as all hell, but it's not your fault. I'd say anything more than a month's growth is a real beard. Walking around with a 5 o'clock shadow and calling it a beard is an insult to real beards. Having said that, we embrace bitchin' mustaches, as well. If the chin whiskers aren't your thing but you've got a pretty rad soup strainer, you're good in my book.
Cogswell: Sadly some men just can't grow facial hair regardless of diet or vitamin supplements due to their genetics. The best thing for growing a nice face mane is all around good health. Healthy man [equals a] healthy beard. High protein, low fat is the best generally. There are a few good vitamins that you can take. Biotin for one. There is a brand called Vita Beard that some people take but I prefer more natural alternatives.
Two of you competed in the Beard Team USA Nationals Competition. Did you win any titles? If not, what will you do differently for next time? What was the most impressive beard or mustache you saw while you were there?
Stoker: Neither Jeff or I won anything. But we weren't expecting to, either. We simply went for the experience. And it was a blast. Everyone was super friendly and very welcoming. This was our first foray into the competitive side of bearding. I think we got a good idea of what to expect going forward and maybe even came away with enough info to hold a contest to find Arizona's baddest beardsmen. The Europeans always go all out, especially in the freestyle beard category. It's not unusual to find props in beards, like the guy who had a full-on bird's nest situated in his beard. Complete with fake bird and fake eggs.
How does someone become part of your club? Is there an application process?
Cogswell: Becoming a member of Canyon State Beard Club is easy. Just like our [Facebook] page, post some pics of your chin warmer and try to make it out to events like the one on Feb 16th at the Yucca Tap Room. Any and all facial hair styles are welcome in our club. It's not strictly beards.
Who has the best beard in local music? How about national/international music?
Stoker: Nationally, I'd say it's hard not to give the nod to ZZ Top. Those guys are the face of beards in music. The Valient Thorr dudes are always rocking some pretty mean beards. Locally, I'd have to say JB Jones from Hogjaw takes the cake.
I heard you're running a best fake beard competition for women. What if they can grow a real beard?
Stoker: With all we have planned for the night, we're going to hold off on the female fake beard contest this time around. But I'd have to say, I'd personally steer clear of a gal with a beard that rivals mine unless she's earning money while touring with the circus.
Craig: I say if they can grow it, show it with the guys and hope theirs don't beat mine.
The Canyon State Beard Club kickoff is scheduled to take place Saturday, February 16, at Yucca Tap Room in Tempe.