BEARD ON BEARD ON BEARD: EVERY TIME I DIE’S ANDY WILLIAMS AND THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN’S LIAM WILSON TALK BEARDS WITH VINCE NEILSTEIN
Last week I conducted a very special interview I’d been looking forward to for some time: Andy Williams and Liam Wilson, two of metal’s best beards, together on one conference call with me, self proclaimed Best Beard of metal writers. With the express purpose of talking about beards exclusively.
Pure hilarity ensued. Beard stories, beard grooming tips, the love adorned upon beards by loving fans (including a blood-soaked grab by a drunk, beaten-up homeless man), all-time beard heroes, and all sorts of other assorted beard talk. Since both Every Time I Die and The Dillinger Escape Plan are currently out on Warped Tour, the guys also shared their thoughts on the “punk rock daycare” nature of Warped and talked just enough trash about purple-pant wearing “boy bands.” Plus their unexpected newfound love for The All American Rejects.
Read our beardtastic talk after the jump!
Let’s start off by giving a quick update on the state of each of your beards.
Andy Williams: I have it shaved into a gnarly mustache. I had that for about a year and a half. Then when the Celtics went to the finals, I trimmed it down to a little dusty mustache like Larry Bird’s. I haven’t shaved since. So I’m about a month and a half into a beard. It’s already pretty gnarly.
So you’re rocking a beard and a mustache and a sort of short beard at the moment?
Andy Williams: No. It’s all kind of blended in now. I had like . . .
Liam Wilson: You dirty bastard.
Andy Williams: I have the same exact mustache that Larry Bird had.
Andy Williams: It’s just a little dusty.
Liam Wilson: It’s actually Larry Bird’s mustache.
Andy Williams: Yeah. [Laughs] I actually bought it off Larry Bird on eBay.
Nice. How much was it?
Andy Williams: Uh $49.
49? That’s a good deal.
Andy Williams: Yeah, I’ve just got to drop his name every once in awhile. That’s it.
He just wants cred for it? That’s pretty sweet. And Liam, what about you?
Liam Wilson: I guess when we started the Option Paralysis recording, I went out to California and just kind of got lazy. You get to that point where you’re just like “I just don’t feel like shaving. It’s just going to be a pain in the ass.” So that was like maybe August/September of last year. I kind of kept it sort of clean until maybe December. I started renovating my house, and I don’t have any radiators in the downstairs part of my house. I was renovating from December through April, so I just let the beard rock.
Andy Williams: Can I be honest with you, Liam?
Liam Wilson: Sure.
Andy Williams: Can I be honest? Can I give a straight shoot? Do you really want to do any sort of renovations without a beard?
Liam Wilson: I see that Dick Proenneke dude on PBS, and I’m like “you know, he’s getting this shit done but imagine what he could do with a beard.” I don’t get how this dude is up in Alaska shaving daily.
Andy Williams: Yeah. Might be a little more important than just a hammer.
I know Andy said a minute ago that you’re just going au naturel on that thing.
Andy Williams: Yeah.
Do each of you guys ever get a little trim kind of thing going on up in there?
Andy Williams: Every once in awhile I’ll trim around my mouth. There’s nothing worse than when you’re eating spaghetti and you’re eating part of your hair too at the same time. So I’ll trim around my mouth and stuff like that. Shit grows so fast on my face that it always kind of looks like I never trim anything. I don’t touch anything else. That’s the only thing I ever trim.
Liam Wilson: I do like the upper lip. Not being able to see myself smile and eat with shit all up in my face. Any expression in my face is kind of necessary when you have this much hair on it.
Andy Williams: Yeah. It’s just stinky. You’re eating something and you got a blob of mayo that you just sucked out of it. You suck on it until you think it’s gone.
Liam Wilson: I don’t exactly get down with the mayo. My beard is also vegan so it’s not down with mayo, but it’s a stoner beard and anytime I get a flame that’s a little too high… and I singe that little bit of hair. That stinks. That is a stink that you do not want. That smell of burning hair around your nose.
It’s bad enough when you singe an eyebrow or an arm hair by accident, but if it’s right under your nose, that’s serious.
Liam Wilson: Yeah. It’s bad, dude. Sometimes it has to be done.
Andy Williams: Yeah. When we recorded Gutter Phenomenon, the day we finished I got a huge, long mustache that if I pulled it – it curled naturally, but if I pulled it, it went up over my eye. It could actually touch the top of my forehead. That’s how long it was.
Liam Wilson: Did it do it by itself?
Andy Williams: Yeah it curls by itself, but then I waxed it at that point in time. It was pretty gnarly. That thing was great. The way that we finished the record, I started growing it when we first started writing the record. I shaved it the last day of recording. That’s when I said I would shave it, but instead Jordan grabbed one side of it and Keith grabbed one side of it and burnt it.
Ohhhh! [Pain Sound]
Andy Williams: It burnt right to the middle. That’s pretty gnarly.
Liam Wilson: Aww! [Pain Sound]
Andy Williams: Believe it or not, that was the last time I had a clean shaven face. That was the last time I didn’t have something on my face.
Liam Wilson: That was before we recorded. I remember seeing you when we were starting.
What various beard grooming techniques do you guys employ? I’m sure this is especially difficult on tour given the often dubious nature of band dudes on tour. Do you shampoo, condition, brush? What various beauty care . . .
Andy Williams: Right around the 3 month mark is when my beard starts getting kind of gnarly. It starts hanging off my face, and you can actually tell. Right now, it’s pretty good. It’s only a month and a half. 3 months down the line it starts getting kind of shaggy, and I have a pretty good routine that I do. I take a shower and then I’ll shampoo my whole head including my face. Usually I’ll use some kind of anti-dandruff type of stuff. I never conditioned before, but what I do is as soon as I get out, I pound it with A + D. I’ll use an A + D vitamin enriched moisturizer.
Liam Wilson: Like VO5 Hot Oil?
Andy Williams: Not VO5 Hot Oil. [Laughs]
Andy Williams: Yeah. I’ll use NIVEA or something like that and just pound it in there. It keeps it nice and healthy, and then I usually brush it. I’m dead serious too. I have a regimen as soon as it gets kind of gnarly.
Liam Wilson: I typically just shampoo and condition my hair. Instead of rinsing off my hands after I’m done scrubbing my head, I’ll just run it through my beard. It gets a little bit of each. As far as combing, especially out on Warped Tour, I can’t tell you how many dudes and girls are just enamored by big beards and they want to touch them like they’ve never seen one before. I feel that I have enough people grabbing it and stroking it that I really don’t need to comb it. They kind of did enough of it with their own hands.
Andy Williams: That’s my burden right there. The last time when I had that really big beard when I went for it, when I was almost at the 2 year mark… I watched these bums fight. There were 3 bums fighting over this 1 bum – a woman bum that looked like Ricky Shroder. It was great. What a cast of characters. It was a like a skinny, dirty dude; big, dirty dude; medium, dirty dude; Ricky Shroder chick; clean, dirty dude; there was positive, dirty dude. There was a whole gaggle of just bums, and they were fighting. There was skinny, dirty dude getting the brunt of the beat-up. I just sat there and was like “man, these dudes are going to need cold ones after this.” So I went to this liquor store and bought two 24 packs and brought them over. When I came back, skinny dirty dude was knocked out cold on the ground. I came back and was like “here guys, that was pretty much some of the most entertaining things I’ve ever seen. I bought you guys beer.” They were super stoked. Ricky Shroder chick gave me a hug. Then big, dirty dude went on about how he hated skinny, dirty dude and wasn’t going to give him any beer. I was like “well, I’m just going to take it back then because I want skinny, dirty dude to have some beer.” Skinny, dirty dude pulled a fast one on me. I didn’t know that he was up and around, and he came over and was like “oh that beard” and he put his bloody hands in my beard.
Liam Wilson: Ohhhhhh! [Disgusted Sound]
Andy Williams: That’s when I shaved my beard.
Got to get that herpagonosyphilaids out of there.
Andy Williams: Yeah. That was when I shaved it. I got all weirded out.
Liam Wilson: I think you were justified shaving that. There’s something to be said for the evidence of process of letting that go, but yeah.
Andy Williams: A couple of months ago I had a really good one started. I was 5 or 6 months in. It was great. It was looking huge. It was cropped this year. I was in the zone. I was in the zone. I went to Calgary, and when I was there this dude dressed up like me all the time and told people he was Andy Williams from Every Time I Die. He lived in Calgary because he was dating a girl. People were buying him drinks. He was reaping the benefits of being me, and then he was at the show that we were at. We played with Four Year Strong and Trapped Under Ice, and he was there. It was kind of creepy. I walked up the stairs, and I saw him and was like “uh, hey.” And he goes “hey, dude.” He said something to me along the lines of “hey look man, we’re brothers.” I instantly got enraged, and I cut my beard a day later or something like that. I had really weird beard things happen. That was like “what the fuck is this dude doing?”
Liam Wilson: Yeah. You got to out-punk him with your beard. We were talking about this. You got to out-alpha him with your beard. You got to have the biggest rack.
Andy Williams: Yeah, exactly. This one I think I’m going to grow for awhile. It’s feeling real good.
Liam Wilson: Yeah, it’s good to me too.
Andy Williams: It started with Larry Bird. Yeah.
Do you guys find that dudes or chicks come up to you more and want to stroke the beard?
Andy Williams: I’ll tell you what, man. I don’t know what it is, and I’m straight and single and I’m ready to mingle right now. I’m a single man. I was in a relationship for a long time. I don’t think I ever got more ass than when I had that big beard. It was crazy.
Liam Wilson: I got to admit, I think we were talking about this when we were talking about doing this interview. I almost feel like girls respond to big beards the way dudes respond to breasts. “I don’t have them. I can’t grow them. I want them.”
So it’s like a statement of manliness.
Andy Williams: Yeah.
Liam Wilson: It’s insane the amount of attention that they get, and they want to touch them like they’re breasts too. They react like if you were blind and you just listened to a girl touching my beard, it would sound like she was touching my boobs. “Oh it’s so soft. What do you put on it?” The dudes are equal. I don’t know if there are pheromones in it, but dudes are always like “yo, nice beard.” Nobody will compliment me on anything. I’m nondescript in any other way. It’s all “dude! Dude!” I don’t know. It’s like some weird cat call. I don’t get it.
Andy Williams: It’s funny, man. Both bands that we’re in, there’s this weird thing when like a guy walks up to you, I’m sure it goes with you, it’s either you’re going to get something about gear or tablatures or they talk about your beard. It’s like 1 of 2. You can guess what kind. This guy is coming up. He’s wearing a flannel shirt. He has a beard. He’s wearing black rimmed glasses. He’s going to ask me about either tabs or gear or he’s going to talk about my beard. 9 times out of 10, it’s usually a beard related question.
Liam Wilson: I have a lot of kids who come up to me and are like “oh man, that’s rad. I can’t grow one.” All I can say is that “I’m growing it for you, man. I’m growing it for all the dudes who can’t grow them.” You’re totally right. So many kids come up to the signing and Ben [Weinman, guitar] was saying that one day Greg [Puciato, vocals] was late for the signing, and Ben was like “but Liam’s beard is here.” My beard seems to get more attention than anything else at these meet and greets. It’s really curious.
Andy Williams: Keith made a really valid point when I had that real big beard. He was like “dude, it’s like a 6th member.” I get more questions about that beard and more people saying something about that beard than like Ratboy who was in the band at the time. It’s crazy. If you have a dude in your band that’s not as talkative as the rest of them, your beard is always going to get more respect than that dude. [Laughs]
Liam Wilson: My beard absolutely has more stage presence than our drummer hands down.
Liam Wilson: It’s kind of silly though. The oddest thing is that people come up to you and wonder how you do it.
Andy Williams: Yeah.
Liam Wilson: It’s not the upkeep regimen. They look at it like “what are you eating?” I’m like “I don’t know. It just comes out of my face.”
Andy Williams: That is my favorite thing when dudes are like “oh my god, man. How do you do that?” It’s like “I’ll tell you what, man. Out of anything that I’ve done in my life, this is by far the easiest thing I’ve ever done. I just don’t do anything. It just happens.”
Liam Wilson: I make jokes like “oh man, I trained really hard. To get those connections, man, I had to stay up night after night and work really hard to get it to connect to my chin.” A lot of social networking.
Last beard question, and then we’ll move on.
Liam Wilson: There’s more? Are you talking about pubic hair next or something? What’s going on?
I figure since you guys are in bands and stuff, maybe give you guys an opportunity to talk about that. [sarcasm]
Andy Williams: The beards are way more important than the bands.
Yeah, exactly. Are there any beards you guys look up to or aspire to?
Andy Williams: Rutherford B. Hayes. Definitely the first one that always comes up to me. Every time I say I think of a beard, I think of Rutherford B. Hayes. When I was in school, I was always like “that had to have been the raddest president because that dude just didn’t give a fuck.”
That’s a good beard.
Andy Williams: And that creepy dude from The Band, Garth [Hudson]. I forgot his fucking last name. The keyboard player from The Band had this thing where his head looked like it was 8 feet around. It was always awesome.
Liam Wilson: I was always a big fan of Rasputin’s beard. I always thought that was pretty cool. Recently I saw a photo or an image of Jules Verne, and I was like “my beard kind of looks like Jules Verne’s beard.”
You were asking earlier if I trimmed it. There are definitely times where I have to trim it to keep some shape, otherwise I’d look downright homeless or like Teen Wolf or something if I throw on some sunglasses. It’s bad. Jules Verne is kind of like my rookie beard. It’s almost like I’m discovering new bands when I find out who had beards in history.
Andy Williams: There are dudes that, I don’t know what it was, but in the late 70s, anyone that was rad in the 60s just got even radder in the late 70s because they grew a beard. Like Jimmy Page grew a beard and fucking Robert Plant grew a beard, and they all looked great. When John Lennon grew a beard, it was like . . .
Liam Wilson: I was going to say that the Beatles all fucking rocked out.
Andy Williams: Yeah. I don’t want to use this term because I think our bands have a lot more time, but when those dudes were in the twilights of their career, they got beards and got cooler.
Andy Williams: I think that’s where I’m at. I remember when the band first started, I had a tight fade and lined up fucking sideburns and really cared about shit. Now it’s like we’re 12 years down the line, and I could give a fuck. I got long hair, and I’m losing it. I’m going to have a skullet in a year.
Liam Wilson: Especially on the Warped Tour, it seems like the older we get . . . I don’t feel old, but I definitely feel my age on this tour.
Andy Williams: Yeah.
Liam Wilson: I noticed what appeals like what these other, I hate to say it, but “boy bands” on this tour are doing. Yeah, I guess I could try to target that demographic, but that would just be faking the funk. I think in a sense that if all these kids out here want to get into a “boy band” then go for that. If you want a man band . . .
Liam Wilson: You want a man friend? Call us. We’re not coming from the same place. We’re not going to the same place, and I’m trying to represent that. I know that some kids don’t want their dads up there, but your dad probably wears a suit. I’m rocking this. I’m a lifer, and that’s what my beard says. It’s my life.
Andy Williams: Yeah. On this tour, you see a guy with a beard and you know he’s doing a beard (and this is going to sound terrible, but I’m just going to go with it). You’ll see dudes [in bands] with beards, and you’ll just look at them and go “no joke, that dude has a beard because I had my big beard or because Liam has a beard or so and so has a beard.” You know what I mean? There are dudes that should not have beards. You look at them and you’re like “you aren’t a beard guy. Don’t try.” They’re doing it because they’re almost looking up to the older bands going “oh they’re the cool kids, so I’m going to grow a beard because these dudes . . . “
Liam Wilson: By the end of this tour, there will be half-assed beards everywhere.
Andy Williams: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Liam Wilson: Fucking clean shaven walking out with it.
Andy Williams: Yeah. That’s the funny thing. You walk around tours like this and see guys and are like “you’re not a beard guy, man. Go wear your purple pants and do your thing.” It’s really funny. I kind of like it. There’s something to be said about a guy with a beard that’s a little out of control. That is your stamp to say “don’t fucking come near me.” It’s the perfect thing. That guy has crazy eyes and he’s got a beard hanging on.
So outside of the beards, is the tour going alright for you guys or are you definitely feeling like the old, bearded men?
Andy Williams: I definitely feel, like Liam said, I definitely feel my age on this tour. At the same time, I really like going on an outside tour. I like being outside.
Liam Wilson: Yeah.
Andy Williams: It’s great that you can wake up to a different place, and it’s sunny. There’s a whole bunch of shit to do that doesn’t even take place on Warped Tour grounds if you want to go adventure.
Liam Wilson: Everybody talks about “punk rock daycare. It’s punk rock summer camp. America’s premier adult daycare” and all this different shit. I also heard somebody else say something like “it’s like a really good acid trip where you’re having a great time but by hour 6 you’re like is this really going to keep going like this.” Getting up on stage and playing the same set, playing the same exact stage every day can get a little taxing and kind of Groundhog Day-ish, but all things considered, it’s pretty laid back and it’s pretty badass that you’re playing with bands that you like. I like meeting people, not knowing what band they’re in, and having a great conversation with them at catering and then realizing that they’re in the All American Rejects who I never would have given any credence to. I go watch them and I’m like I don’t totally feel it that way, but we’re coming from the same place and I can see that. It’s kind of cool when you’re put into a situation where every band is homogenized and playing at a different time in the day. It’s a level playing field.
Andy Williams: There are 2 bands on this tour that I never gave a chance to that totally changed my mind: All American Rejects and Alkaline Trio. I was never a fan of either band, and then you meet the dudes and you’re like . . . Tyson (All American Rejects) is one of the . . . I want to do science experiments on that dude because he’s so . . .
Liam Wilson: He’s a fucking lifer.
Andy Williams: He’s awesome. He’s one of the coolest dudes I’ve ever toured with, and it doesn’t make sense. I thought that dude was going to be the biggest douchebag in the world, and he totally, totally changed my mind. He’s the exact opposite of what a douche bag is.
Liam Wilson: Yeah.
Andy Williams: He’s the raddest dude ever. The dudes in that band are great. Alkaline Trio is just . . . the other day, Skiba was wearing all camouflage. I’m like “hey man. What’s the deal? What’s with the getup?” He just goes “I’m at war with myself” and just peddled off.
Andy Williams: That’s such a legendary move right there. I never understood it. Alkaline Trio just never made sense to me, and now I would legitimately call myself a super fan. I think that band’s music is unreal. Actually listening to them changed my mind — meeting them and then watching them every day.
Liam Wilson: There’s this other band, Closure in Moscow. I just kind of randomly got into a conversation with one of the guys, and it really quickly spun-off into pretty much every one of my interests and how they all overlap and where they intersected this music thing. Now that I’ve had enough conversations with them, going to see those dudes play was kind of my blindside-never-heard-of-you band of this tour as well. These dudes are really cool and their shit is tight.
Andy Williams: Yeah. This is the 5th Warped Tour that we’ve done. This was a comment that I made: “man, who the fuck is going to be my dude after this tour?” There’s got to be one guy that I’m going to be like at the beginning of the tour “this dude is the worst fucking dude I ever toured with in my life.” By the end I’m like “that dude is one of my best friends in the world.”
Liam Wilson: [Laughs] Yeah.
Andy Williams: It always happens like that. Every year there’s a dude. I start off the tour like “I’m going to fucking hate that guy, and I’m not going to give him the time of day and blah, blah, blah.” By the end I’m like almost just crying because it’s the last day of tour, and I’m not going to get to hang out with him.
Liam Wilson: It’s camp. Got to go home.
Andy Williams: Yeah. Meatballs all over again.
Sweet guys. Thanks for taking the time to talk about your beards. It’s much appreciated. As a beardo myself, I’m actually kind of a poser right now. I have a shitty little, dinky, baby beard. I did get close to the 2 year mark once.
Liam Wilson: You got to start somewhere.
It was pretty gnarly. It was looking like Andy’s beard at its height. I’m Jewish too, so I kind of had that terrorist look going. It was pretty gnarly, man.
Andy Williams: Yeah, yeah. Like I said, when it gets to that point, you’re just telling people to stay the fuck away.
Seriously. I share your experience in that it seemed to help with the ladies.
Andy Williams: Yeah. That’s the craziest thing about it, man.
Liam Wilson: Yeah, there’s something else that seems to happen (and other beardos probably understand) but my hair is pretty dark but my beard grows in really gingery. That’s what seems to drive the bitches crazy.
Andy Williams: Yeah. Can we talk about one more thing? It’s kind of like something that should go in this interview. When bikers are driving down the road, they always wave at each other. When you see someone with . . . when you have intense facial hair and you see another dude with intense facial hair . . .
Liam Wilson: You nod.
Andy Williams: The nod is the hardest thing on Earth. The respect. This story is insane. We had a bass player at the time and we played in San Francisco and some girls played right down the block from where we played. I went down there, and I was all the way in the back of the venue. It was almost like gnarly facial hair radar kicked in. This dude walked in the venue (and like I said, I was in the back), I instantly just looked at the door at the exact same time. This dude had a mustache that was seriously the perfect mustache. Insane, huge upper lip . . .
Liam Wilson: Like Rollie Fingers?
Andy Williams: No, like Mario. Like a huge Mario mustache. It was perfectly shaped.
Liam Wilson: Really groomed.
Andy Williams: Yeah. The archetypical — that’s what a mustache should be. You know, Tom Selleck, boom just bam.
Andy Williams: He walked all the way through the crowd. Our eyes were on each other the whole time. Boom, walks by. He played it cool. He was looking forward and turned last minute and looked at me. He gave me the nod. It was like 4 or 5 years ago. That time was the most insane beard radar bro, Harley Davidson moment I ever had.
Liam Wilson: That’s exactly what I’m talking about. It’s like antlers, dude. Dudes look at you, and if you’re kind of comparable, it’s kind of like a nod of respect. Otherwise you’re like fucking for territory. If they know that you’re on your line and they’re on their line, it’s cool. There are dudes that will totally eye you up though. If you make eye contact and like he’s coming for it, and then it’s cool.
Andy Williams: Yeah.
Andy Williams: I’ve had complete, complete beard beefs before where dudes will be in the thing and we’ll just be locking horns almost the whole time. I just won’t like the dude. I’m not even kidding you. I’ve been on tours. There was one band in particular with a drummer who had a beard – a big dude. So it was like big dude beef and beard beef at the same time. We locked horns the whole time.
Liam Wilson: I’ve never had beard beef with you.
Andy Williams: Well it’s a little different. There’s beard love.
Liam Wilson: Yeah, there’s beard love.
Andy Williams: There’s definitely not beard beef. It’s one of those things where there’s a good 30 second feel out where like you know if the dude is going to get aggressive or it’s cool.
Yeah. Scope out the dude and see what the deal is.
Andy Williams: Yeah.
Cool guys. Thanks a lot. I’ll let you go back to your old man duty on the Warped Tour.