This Beans On Toast article was written by Lauren Scott, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Kieran Stowell
It has been a very busy year for the self-professed English drunk folk singer Beans On Toast; and with a new album due on the 1st December and a fast approaching UK tour, I thought there would be no better time to catch up with him. Beans On Toast (also known as Jay McAllister) has been travelling around America and is soon to be back home in the UK for his tour of the upcoming album “Rolling Up The Hill”.
Hello, you’re currently in the US, how have you been spending your time in America?
“Hello! I’ve been doing a lot of moving around. I’m currently in California and three or four weeks into the seven week tour. I’ve been travelling with Skinny Lister and we’re opening for Frank Turner, so I have been travelling in the van with them.
We have been all over, from Boston and New York and places that I’m familiar with to tonight, we’re in Sacramento. There has been places I’ve never really heard of before, it’s nice to visit unchartered territory. It’s been phenomenal basically.”
You’ve worked with Frank Turner quite a lot of times, since the early days… tell me a little about you and him?
“Yeah we’re old buddies, and Frank kind of looks after me. Every time he bumps up to the next level, I get invited along to keep things grounded, maybe … We have done many tours of the UK, this is my second tour of the states.
I definitely wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing these days if it wasn’t for the leg ups that Frank has given me over the years. We’re buddies basically and when he first started playing, doing his solo stuff I was doing mine as well.
You hear stories about people, selling loads of records and then ditching all their friends and drifting off into the different world – but I’ve never actually seen that. It’s more the other way round I’ve found.”
You have your new album coming out on the annual release date of the 1st December, tell us a little bit about “Rolling Up The Hill” – has your time in America influenced your writing?
“The album was recorded in the states, I do an album a year and I try to always record it somewhere different, with someone new, different artists, and different producers to mix up the flavour of each record. This time I met a band called Truckstop Honeymoon, at Larmer Tree festival last year. They are a husband and wife country duo- I liked the name and I just went down to watch them and they were the best band i’d seen for ages.
She (Katie West) plays the double bass, he (Mike West) plays the banjo and they write really hilarious songs about life on the road, they’ve got loads of kids, and they tour with their kids. Anyway I saw them and I was a big fan and did the whole ‘social media thing’ afterwards and they got in touch! They’re quite old school, they wanted to send me some of their albums and for me send them some of mine, in the post! I thought, wow, I didn’t think anybody sent things in the post anymore.
So we started sending little packages and things back and forth and they said they have a studio. This was at the end of last summer and in March this year I was out in the states anyway so we met up, did a couple of shows and went to their house in Kansas. Then we basically made plans to make a record together.
I went back in August and spent a week living with them at their house with their four kids. And put down a record, with them playing on it, on every tune as well. It’s got double bass, it’s got a brilliant finger picker, they found a lot of other good players in Kansas, and we got someone in to play some drums on some tracks and some horn players. And then the ultimate plan was and is for them to come to England for the album tour in November.
Truckstop Honeymoon open up the show, and then also play as the backing band. It all came about quite naturally really. I think also by doing a new record each year, I’ve always got an antennae out looking for an interesting place to do it.
The idea of being out in America was good. There’s a couple of songs about American stuff, on the album, but I didn’t want to be too Yankee about it, but it’s hard not to. It’s still got plenty of chit chat about what is going on in the UK and my life in general.
Sometimes it just feels like you could put an American town into a song title and it just sounds more epic. I’ve had to kind of reel that in a little bit! But yeah, I’m really happy with the record and excited to play with Truckstop and have a full band together.”
It sounds like you had a great time in America- but you are still coming home to do the tour in the UK. Where are you looking forward to playing the most?
“I see the tours as all one big shebang basically – I have quite a lot of love for Bristol.
Ultimately, Aberdeen is the first day on tour and I don’t really think much further ahead than that. The last show is in London, where I live, and obviously I’ve been away this year, so I guess that will be a nice homecoming from the busiest year that I’ve ever had. I’m looking forward to the whole thing.”
What is your favourite thing about home in the UK? What have you missed?
“My wife, by far. She’s been out for some of the tour, hopefully she’s going to come more but we miss each other.
Apart from that, Marks & Spencer in petrol stations. It revolutionised touring when Marks & Spencer went into all the service stations around the country, because you can now be sat on the side of the M5 with something like a crayfish salad with caramelised onions or something similar rather than just a Pepperami and a Ginsters pasty.
There’s nothing like that in America- it’s hard to get food that isn’t just covered in sugar. And if you’ve got a seven hour drive and your only stop is a petrol station you basically end up feeding yourself on Nutri-Grain, it’s the only thing that’s not going to kill you instantly.
Once you get to the towns there’s nice food everywhere, but we seem to spend every breakfast and lunch in the petrol stations. It can be pretty tough!”
When it comes to writing who or what inspires you? What are your muses?
“Everyday life is what my songs are all about.
The inspiration is the stuff I get up to and what I see and my opinions on all of that. I’m not of the belief that you can’t write a song about anything in the world, you know, from a chair, to a car to a sexual fantasy, you can write a song about whatever you want!
I do smoke weed as well that helps, have a sit down with my guitar and write a song it helps get the inspiration flowing.”
If there was one message you could give to your listeners what would it be?
“Be nice to people. That sounds proper cheesy doesn’t it? Just chill out, be nice, this is more than one, stop being greedy, stop and look at the world around you and the problems that are facing us, I think that counts as one thought! Be nice!”