Chris Brown, the man behind Refueled magazine, is every bit as interesting as his publication suggests. He’s a man who values tradition, adventure, rye whisky, beatnik literature, good music, and, of course, great beards. In other words: a man after our own hearts. We recently asked him a series of random questions after spending a few hours with him roaming the property of his good friend Jason Lee.
Here is the incomparable Chris Brown.
Beard Supply Co.: When did you first decide to grow a beard?
Chris Brown: I’ve had facial hair basically since I could grow it. I always dabbled in stubble, but I’ve had my full-length beard for seven or eight years now. Growing a beard was an organic thing for me. I grew up in a really pivotal time in the ’60s and ’70s. I was very inspired and influenced by the hippy generation: the musicians and actors who came out of that period. Even at 10 years old, I could see that growing out your beard was about rebellion and freedom. Expressing yourself, really. And that stuck with me. It directed and shaped what I wanted to create, which ultimately led me to a period in my life eight or nine years ago when I started embracing the freedom of creating exactly what I wanted to create. For myself. Not for anyone else.
BSc: Did growing out your beard have anything to do with this new creative freedom?
CB: Definitely. It all happened around the same time. That’s when I started creating Refueled magazine. It all went hand in hand. The magazine encapsulates who I am as a person, the things I love and care about. It’s more like a personal journal for me. It sprouted out of a place of freedom and creativity. And I guess you could say my beard sprouted from there too.
BSc: I’d like to ask you a lot of random questions now.
CB: Sure. That’s what this is all about.
BSc: Question 1: What’s the closest you’ve come to dying?
CB: Wow, okay! Let’s go back to when I was six years old, I guess. My dad grew up around horses and often took me to his buddy’s house to ride and just hang out in that environment. He put me on this little Shetland pony who wasn’t trained and did not like kids. The pony threw me up in the air for what felt like 200 feet. My dad says I was knocked unconscious. I woke up in the doctor’s office with a broken collarbone. While I was flying through the air, I wouldn’t say my life passed before me — because I hadn’t had much of a life yet - but I remember everything going in slow motion.
BSc: You experienced the Ultimate Fear.
BSc: Are you afraid of horses now?
CB: I’m not afraid of horses whatsoever. I got bucked off and got right back on.
BSc: Question 2: What skills should every man have?
CB: Every man should be able to pick out a good whisky. Every man should be able to pick out an honest mate. Every man should have a soft side and not be afraid to show it.
BSc: What whisky do you recommend?
CB: My favorite whisky the past couple years has been Slow & Low, which is basically an Old Fashioned in a bottle. My buddies Ryan and Caleb introduced me to it when they were designing the packaging. I was hanging out in their studio and said, “What’s this?” I was hooked from then on. That being said, I also favor ryes. I like that burn. It makes you feel alive. And if you’re not feeling something at all times - good or bad - what’s the point?
BSc: Question 3: What books should everyone read?
CB: My two favorite Jack Kerouac novels are Big Sur and On the Road. I think everyone should read Howl by Allen Ginsberg. Everyone should read To Kill a Mockingbird. Everyone should read old MAD Magazines. Pre ’80s. Pre ’70s, even. Read the ’50s and ’60s MAD Magazines. There’s so much sarcasm and hidden messages in those.
BSc: Question 4: What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
CB: That’s an easy one. Right out of high school, my buddies and I went on the road with a band we’d formed. It was a risky thing to do. Where I grew up in Southeast Texas, everyone went to work at the oil refineries. That’s what my dad grew up doing. But since I was eight years old, I’d only been interested in a few things: music, art, and the print world. I think working in an oil refinery is admirable, rugged work; but I knew I wasn’t cut out for it. So I got out of high school and said, “I’m going to play bass in a rock and roll band on the road.” It didn’t go over well with my dad. But he changed his mind when he saw where we took the band over the next 10 to 15 years. In the late ’80s, our career ended with a video on MTV, so I’d say we did pretty well.
BSc: What kind of bass did you play?
CB: A Fender Bullet. I’m only 5' 4", so a Fender Bullet was perfect for my size. I still have my Fender Bassman 10 that I bought in the ’70s. It’s a great amp.
BSc: Question 5: What makes a good marriage?
CB: Humor, actually. Above everything else. If you can’t laugh at each other - if you can’t laugh at yourself - there are going to be problems. Don’t take life so seriously. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Laugh about misfortunes and bad times. If you can’t, it will never last.
BSc: Question 6: Do you have a favorite possession?
CB: One of my most prized possessions is my dad’s old Stetson cowboy hat. I remember trying it on as a child. It smelled like him. It gave me this very secure feeling. I still get that feeling today when I wear it. But I’m talking about my dad like he’s not here anymore. He’s alive and well! He’s 85 years old. I visit him often. Over the past few years, I’ve been asking him a lot of questions about his childhood, his teenage years, his life. I guess now that I’m nearing 60 years old, he feels like I’m old enough to start sharing things with me - things he never shared with me when I was younger. Girls he dated. What he did in the Navy. It’s pretty sobering to hear your dad talk with you like a buddy. I love it. That said, there are certain things you probably shouldn’t know about your father.
BSc: Question 7: What’s the most illegal thing you’ve ever done?
CB: I smoked a lot of weed in my early years. I guess that was illegal. To be honest, I think people probably picture my lifestyle being wilder than it has been. But I’ve never been arrested.
BSc: Final Question: What do most people get wrong about life?
CB: Thinking there’s enough time to do everything. You learn as you get older that there isn’t. There isn’t enough time. So if you want to do something in your life, you need to do it right when you think of it. Because life is short. It’s fleeting. It could end at any moment. Grab everything you can and live life to the fullest. It’s a cliché, but it’s also absolutely true.
Favorite Beard Oil: Deep Woods
Beard Tip: Keep it clean. Keep it moisturized. Let it grow and see where it can go.
Beard Quirk: Long, full beard in the summer. Shorter, trimmed beard in the winter.