As Beardbrand’s writing intern, I’ve gotten the chance to see our fair founder Eric Bandholz’s badass beard and urban beardsman gospel get featured all over the place, from an spot in Interviews with Makers to a shout-out from bearded model Ricki Hall.
But this is Beardbrand, and we don’t pull any punches. It was time to interview the man himself on our own terms. What’s the result? Here’s a little something I like to call “ten things you always wanted to ask the Urban Beardsman,” conducted over the phone and transcribed by your very own writing intern/lackey. This is part one of a two-part series.
Ana Quiring: For real talk, though, why did you ever first decide to grow a beard?
Eric Banholz: Why? I just think it’s kind of a—as you go through puberty, you see other people with facial hair, it’s just like a rite of passage, establishing yourself. I mean, the first time I had facial hair was back in high school, if you could even call it facial hair back then. I wanted to feel older, I guess.
AQ: So when you left your job at Merrill Lynch, what made you decide to grow a yeard?
EB: Well, I think it was like my first mid-life crisis. You’ll realize this as you get older. You need something in your life to keep you moving forward, to keep challenging you, keep experiencing new things. I don’t like being stagnant. It was just really fun. You know, I’m kinda narcissistic, so having a lot of people notice the beard growth was a lot of fun.
And when I started, it wasn’t like, ‘I’m gonna grow my beard out for a year,’ it was more like, ‘I’m gonna grow my beard out.’ Then in the process of growing it out, I really got involved in the community, and then I committed to going for the yeard.
AQ: were you married at this point?
EB: yeah! I’ve been married for a long time. She likes my antics. I think that’s why she married me and keeps me around.
AQ: That doesn’t surprise me at all. But what I wanna know is: would you recommend growing a yeard for other people?
EB: Absolutely. I mean, you’re going to be on this planet hopefully eighty or ninety years, and all we’re asking is one year of your life, out of those eighty years, you let the beard go. You can always shave it off. It’s a fun experience, and it’s something that not a lotta people do in their life.
AQ: Well that brings me to my next question, the million dollar question: will you ever shave your beard?
EB: I think I’ll shave my beard at some point in my life. I like different styles, different trims. I don’t know if I will ever go, like, completely beardless, with no facial hair at all, but I could see myself trimming down the beard so it’s a one month beard, or a two-week beard.
AQ: I think you should get mutton chops, actually.
EB: Yeah, well the problem for me, Ana, is that my mustache is probably the best part of my beard, so I gotta keep the mustache, and my sides are not very thick. Some of these guys have really good mutton chop ability, but mine are pretty weak.
AQ: well your mustache is pretty great, so you probably do want to play that up. Now, here’s something I’m really just curious about: what is the number one question people on the street ask you about your beard?
EB: well, the most common question I get is, how long did it take the grow the beard out? Where I promptly respond, two weeks. So they get flabbergasted, and depending on how mean I wanna be I’ll either correct them or just let them believe I’ve got a two week beard.
AQ: how long has it been for real?
EB: well I haven’t been completely shaven since my Merrill Lynch days.
AQ: so forever. Well anyway, I wanna know what you think: are beards for everybody, or for all men? Should all men try out a beard?
EB: I think they should try it out, and then from there it’s up them to decide whether or not it’s for them. A lot of people are like ‘BEARDS, you gotta have a beard if you’re a man!’ But the reality is, not everybody feels comfortable with the beard they can grow. If it’s not making you happy, then you shouldn’t have a beard. But if you’re worrying, what’s my wife gonna think, what’s my boss gonna think, then you have to grow one. It has to be about what you want, not what others want.
Stay tuned for part two of my talk with Eric.