Back in late September we met up with three of the most magnificent souls in music, four counting our lovely beard loving folkster Sophie Madeleine, namely Emily Hope Price, Jeremy Styles and Jocelyn Mackenzie of Pearl and the Beard (self described as: three voices, one cello, one guitar, one glockenspiel, one melodica, several drums, one accordion, ninety-six teeth, and one soul).
This team of lovely souls, voices and laughs hit us right where it hurts, and it's been hurting SO good ever since. Not to mention the fact that they sell beards at their shows, Emily and Jocelyn went out of their way to make sure my (super) pregnant wife had a place to sit at their EP release... and trust me when i say there was NO room. Thank you again ladies.
Emily introduced me to the rest of the band as 'the guy that will make us famous'... which is laughable and humbling all at the same time... so, to try and live up to such hype, and to give back to a band that has changed the way i look at harmony, whether musically or socially (seriously)... Build-a-Beard stopped by the band's tour bus (cause we do that now) and the sublimed interview is below, and what resulted is our longest and most engaging Q&A to date.
(P.S. Check this out too: Pearl and the Beard – Will Smith Medley)
EHP = Emily Hope Price JM = Jocelyn Mackenzie JS = Jeremy Styles
So, this is the chance for us to make you famous... we are honored, and humbled you think this will help your cause... either way, tell us the 'story' behind the name of your band, Pearl and the Beard.
JS: We tend to keep that a bit more vague, and open to interpretation, but as far as the Beard portion goes, when coming up with the name I was pretty obsessed with beards. They are sort of like a great butt or boobs on a man's face. I would just stare at a beard and be captivated with my lookin' balls.
You sell plush beards with a single pearl on it (a la Cindy Crawford's mole)... do they sell well? We get the feeling that people that can't grow beards FLOCK to fake ones, what say you? and where can our beardly deficient readers get their hands on it?
EHP: We made them in order to support our beardless market.
JM: Yes, and they’re actually selling quite well! They are made in America by the nimble hands of two fine young American art school graduates, our friend and former photographer Juliet Hinely, and myself. They are made by hand, individually crafted by Juliet and yours truly. They are time consuming to make, and a labor of love. The ONLY place you can get them is at a show! So come on down!
You have one beardo among you... who sometimes shaves... do you guys push him to shave or does he go willingly?
JS: In the years we’ve playing I’ve only shaved once.
EHP: No, you’ve shaved more than that!
JS: Well, maybe one more time. I shave willingly. But I like going extreme. I’ll shave when it starts driving me nuts and I start twisting it in my fingers.
JM: But you do trim, though.
You're on tour to support your new EP, what are some crazy facial hair stories you've had on the road previously. bad hair days would qualify if they are on the chin... we'll also take the weirdest facial hair style that may have attended your shows.
EHP: Well, we could talk about Franz Nicolay and his awesome moustache… but that’s it.
JM: Our friend Brandon Mastrangelo [of Burning Oak and Larcenist] had a really sick beard going for awhile.
EHP: We also talked about beards being one of the requirements of making a song a sea shanty.
JM: Yeah, between Pearl and the Beard and our friends in Larcenist (formerly known as Vessel), I think we determined that for a song to be a sea shanty, there have to be at least six guys singing at the same time, and at least four of them have to have beards (see our old Sunday Brunch Episode for more specifics... notice Jeremy's lack of a beard)
JS: Occasionally we’ll rub beards with people.
EHP: Yes, we love the occasional beard rubbing. It’s better than a brass rubbing. It leaves more of an impression.
JS: What’s a brass rubbing?
EHP: You know, like in Indiana Jones, when he rubs the thing on the thing…
JS: Oh yeah!
EHP: It totally makes a good “impression...!”
JS: Who else had good beards?
EHP: Justin Tam [of Humble House] had a good beard for awhile…
JM: Yeah, but it was pretty under control.
JS: Oh, but don’t forget E-S Guthrie…
JM: Yeah! His hair was so long, and his beard was like down to his bellybutton or something. Then he cut it all off. I liked it long, but he still looks good. So really our answer is: we’ve only encountered incredible hair.
I gotta say all the stuff written about your band is very ethereal, very soul and depth related... hell you guys even listed Gospel as a style on your FB page... that said, if we created a religion of worshiping facial hair (i.e. theopogonology), would you write our gospels and join in on the cult, erm club?
JM: Well, only if we get really great titles.
EHP: Jeremy, you would be the King of Panda Express. I would be the Queen of Tornados and Electronic Disturbance.
JM: What would I be?
EHP: You would be Queen of Tears.
JS: I’d rather be Jeremy the Boob Grabbler.
EHP: What did I say you were before?
JM: The stupid King of Stupid Panda Stupid Express. But that doesn’t have anything to do with beards.
JS: Well, would we be in the gospels, or would we just be writing them ourselves?
EHP: I think we could write some.
JS: I personally like to keep my options open when it comes to clubs, but I’d be happy to contribute to some of the literature.
Seriously though, how would you define your style personally, there is so much in your music from strings to stomping, bells whistles, a glockenspiel, call and answer whooping (which i love) and other layers upon layers of goodies... for god's sake there are only three of you!
JM: Done. Answered.
JS: Other people have said we’ve created a new genre, whether I agree with that is arguable.
EHP: I’ve never heard that.
JS: I’m just saying what other people said. If you quote other people then you’re not wrong!
EHP: The newest description we got was “Andrew Lloyd Webber sitting around the campfire.” But I talked to a musical theater guy who totally disagreed with that.
JM: I don’t know. I just think we make music that we like to listen to. [Composer and multi-instrumentalist] Jim Altieri said to me once that if there’s music that you want to listen to that doesn’t exist yet, you just make it yourself. That’s what my favorite part of our sound is… we’re making music that we ourselves want to hear. You can’t go wrong with that.
What is your musical training has been? know that it couldn't all be learned on the fly...
JS: I started taking very uncomfortable guitar lessons, then I was self taught with books and covering songs. Now I just watch other guitarists on stage and learn from what they’re doing. And I’ve been singing for always.
JM: I’m a total faker. These two tricked me into learning how to play instruments, and I’m glad they did.
EHP: Jeremy and Jocelyn found me passed out on the side of the road carrying a simple clover.
JS: We replaced a forty of Colt 45 you were holding in your hand with a cello.
EHP: And they were like, “Play something!” and I was like, “Okay.”
EHP: And I was like, “Guys, I don’t know how to play this thing!” and they were like, “That’s just fine.”
JS: Yeah and I said, “Just play like you drink.”
EHP: Yeah. What’s funny about that is I don’t drink.
We've heard some of your tracks (like Lost in Singapore) compared to classical giants like Brahms... whom are actually your inspirations and what gets your creativity flowing?
EHP: Macaroni and cheese! Only from Kraft! Also, Annie’s is great.
JM: And the box has bunnies on it.
JM: I get inspired by everything I see! And I love They Might Be Giants. But my friends bands are the best bands I love. I can’t tell if I love their music because they are my friends or they become my friends because they write great music or both.
JS: Last night I saw this guy Jacob Augustine and he really flipped my skirt up. It’s sort of a bittersweet feeling to see a new artist that makes me feel challenged, like I need to go back to the drawing board and write something better.
EHP: I love Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, Franz Nicolay.
JM: Holy Ghost Tent Revival, Uncle Monsterface, O’Death, Emilyn Brodsky, Tatters and Rags, Dinosaur Feathers.
EHP: Anna Vogelzang
JS: Radiohead has helped me write more songs than I care to remember. Oh and bee tee dubs, Jacob Augustine has a phenomenal beard. Fudge about.
Anything we didn't ask, that you are DYING to share?
JM: Just that our new EP is for sale from our website www.pearlandthebeard.com and www.blackvesselep.com, through our label Family Records, and on iTunes, Amazon, etc.
JS: Sounds good!
JM: Also, when I was little I would watch Mtv and secretly wish that I could grow a beard like ZZ Top. My mom would tell me that if I really wanted to grow one I just had to wish for it and keep trying, and then I would realize my dream. Little did I know that she duped me.