An interview with Beans On Toast
Essex-born musician Jay McAllister, aka Beans On Toast, describes his brand of music as ‘drunk folk’ and is releasing his eighth album on 1st December. Ellipsis caught up with him ahead of his UK tour, kicking off later this month.
Are you looking forward to going on tour?
Yeah I am, I feel like I’m constantly on tour at the moment, which is nice. I’ve got a random day at home today talking about tour on the phone. This December tour is my annual album tour, kind of the main one of the year, so it’s exciting.
Do you like playing in Liverpool?
I do. I’ve not been to Constellations but I’ve heard good things- it’s in the- I want to call it the Bermuda Triangle but is it called the Baltic Triangle? It’s a great part of town, and all the other venues are top, so I presume that Constellations is up there with them, so yeah, I’m very much looking forward to it.
We’re really looking forward to it!
It’s a Friday night in Liverpool, so I’m well up for it!
How does the new album compare to your previous albums?
Well, they’ve all come out on 1st December. It’ll be album eight, there’s been eight years, one album a year, all coming out on the same day. Musically, I’ve made a point of recording each album in a different way with different people, and this one, it’s called A Spanner In The Works and I actually came up with the name first and felt that I wanted to record it a little bit differently and ended up recording it on a laptop with my friend, rather than just going to a studio, just me and an old mate. The original idea was to have no guitars at all, like a spanner in the works, how can I make a different sounding album, but we couldn’t take all of the guitars out so there’s a guitar on the opening track as a sort of segue. It’s got a kind of different feel to it but it also sits amongst my other albums quite naturally. I’m super proud of it, it’s a bit different but it still sits next to the other ones quite comfortably.
Your music’s quite political and about peace and loving each other. I feel like that’s not really a typical theme of music so is that an important message to you?
I think if you pick most songs apart you’ll find that generally at their heart they’re about the goodness of humanity, I just think mine are really obvious ones. I don’t hide what I’m talking about behind clever poetry or anything, it’s definitely sort of ‘say what you see’. I take it as a huge compliment that you say my songs are about peace and being kind to each other, especially now more than ever, when it feels like someone’s flushing the world down the toilet a bit. I try not to be too doom and gloom about it, which is getting more difficult as we go further and further down the toilet, but I’m an optimist at heart and from now on, when people ask me what my songs are about, I’m going to say they’re about ‘peace and love’!
How would you describe your sound?
In times like this you always feel like you need to kind of pigeonhole yourself, and I coined the phrase ‘drunk folk’, and use that. Even when I’m on a train somewhere with a guitar talking to a stranger, they’ll always ask what music I play, especially when I’ve got a silly name like Beans On Toast. I end up in some pretty bizarre conversations with strangers. So I just call it ‘drunk folk’.
Who would you say your influences were?
Its a wide range of books, people, music, and life, really, and my parents. Musically, I don’t really listen to a lot of stuff a hell of a lot similar to the stuff I play. I think in this day and age, being into one genre of music is kind of a thing of the past, everyone listens to music across the board, and I grew up very much that way, from listening to my dad’s country and western records, to being a teenager and listening to hip hop, to then going to gigs and then going to techno raves. Musically it’s across the board, and all of that has, not necessarily in the sound but certainly in the life that I’ve lived, turned into the songs that I write. You don’t really know where inspiration comes from, you just sort of soak up as much as you can and then write a song about it at the end.
Why should people come and see you on tour?
I’ve always been a bad advert for myself, but I guess you should come down for a bit of Friday night peace and love.
If you were a dessert, which dessert would you be and why?
After already naming myself as a foodstuff! I would be a bowl of blackberries, because everybody loves fruit and it’s the right season for blackberries right now. Also if you want to get hold of some blackberries you can just go down to your local bush and pick them up!