By Brian Peterson
If you ever find yourself craving a little whiskey while getting a fresh hairdo, some people won't understand it. Hell, they might worry about you. But rest assured, local rock 'n' rollers Josh Fleming and Adrian Brackens are right there with you, garbed in their matching denim best, as long as the right music is playing in the background.
A month ago, after they both quit gigs at Floyd's 99, the two stylists opened up No Authority Barbershop on Lower Greenville, where they've invented a business that dabbles in high-end haircuts while embracing the essential features of a certain kind of "man-cave."
That masculinity-driven descriptor, provided by Fleming, fits pretty well. Posters from obscure bands line the walls, alongside a cabinet topped with various whiskeys and, of course, a record player with plenty of choices in a row underneath. It doesn't hurt that they're right across the street from the local vinyl mecca, Good Records.
While maximizing his role as the singer and guitarist for the Phuss, one of the leading hard rock acts in Dallas, Fleming found himself stuck working in a restrictive corporate structure, tired of trying to make it all synergize. Now, with some distance, those feelings are clear. "It just wasn't conducive to being in a band," he explains. "We were giving half our money away, for one thing, and they were always pissed when I would go on tour, even if they wouldn't tell it to my face."
The idea initiated with Brackens and his wife, who is also a stylist, but when he met Fleming, it grew and mutated into No Authority. "Me and Josh, we're kind of cut from the same cloth, fellow musicians and everything," he says. "We wanted to keep it classy, but we also wanted men to be able to come in and feel comfortable just hanging loose."
With that goal in mind, it would be hard to argue against their success. Though it's a one-room shop inside the Salon Society building, it's more cozy than cramped, an environment where their friends are their customers and, more importantly, vice versa. Heading there from the Old Crow, we ran into a recognized face almost immediately; you get the sense these two guys aren't strangers on this street.
You also get the sense they're not amateurs, and this is not a half-baked idea. Brackens began learning the trade from his dad, who practiced cutting hair on the side, and he first started charging his friends for cuts when he was 14. Fleming's interest was piqued as a youngster as well, introduced by a friend, and when his music dreams got serious, he settled on being a stylist for a steady income.
After spending roughly two years each at Floyd's working under other people, they're clearly happy with the change of direction No Authority provides. "Me or Adrian walking in, unlocking the door, turning on the barber pole, putting on a record -- that's a good feeling," Fleming says with a smile. ("You gotta have a barber pole," he informs me.) "With this place, we don't have bad days," Brackens adds. "It's almost like an escape for us."
Brackens is also a singer and a songwriter, working on a solo album, but his main focus is with his band The KUL. He describes their style as "Lenny Kravitz meets Nine Inch Nails meets stoner rock," a description Flemings advises him to scrap for fear of underselling their "electrified" sensuality. Judging from an unmastered version of their upcoming album, which he plays on a boombox, they've both got a point.
Get either one of them started on local bands or records they've been into lately, and you'll get a free lesson of their choosing, not to mention they can simply press play. Fleming displays what he calls "pointless rock 'n' roll knowledge" with a comfortable ease, but Brackens treats his partner's expertise almost with reverence, as an opportunity to be exposed to new music. Their wide-ranging tastes overlap more often than not, a phenomenon Fleming helpfully sums up: "We both like everything, as long as it's kickass."
At least for the moment, they do have a blind spot. There's one variety of tunes you won't hear inside No Authority. "Adrian came in the other day, he was kind of bummed out about something, a little upset," Fleming begins. "And I was like, 'I'm gonna put on some sad bastard music for you,' and I'm looking through the records. Turns out, we don't have any sad bastard music. We don't need it."
Here's hoping it stays that way. Regardless, No Authority Barbershop offers a uniquely testosterone-friendly, high-quality haircut option that directly benefits local musicians in Lower Greenville. Who said pre-gaming can't be productive?
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