Beans On Toast is the creation and moniker of Jay McAllister whose unique brand of folk/punk and poetry has been a regular feature of many a festival. With 5 albums in as many years, Beans is nothing if not prolific in his songwriting and touring. Perhaps his biggest show, prior to tonight's performance at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena, was supporting (as is the case this evening) Frank Turner at Wembley arena back in 2012. With his latest album released on his birthday in December (he released all his previous albums this way) eGigs catches up with Beans for a chat ahead of tonight's gig at the arena.
How was last night's Bath show?
It was good man, I haven't played a show for the whole of January which is quite a long time for me. I did say to them that this is not an experiment pad for the arena gigs ..but actually the truth is you may just be that. They were cool, and the gig was nicely attended and much more what I'm sort of used to. Together Me and the crowd worked out the best techniques for the arena tour.
From the intimate surroundings of Bath Moles club, to starting your arena tour tonight with Frank Turner, how will this affect your performance and will you change it up?<
No, not really. I think I got these gigs off the back of the Wembley Arena Show where I previously supported Frank Turner where the trick was to do what I would normally do. Naturally the gig will be lead down a way that is right for it.
You have played Wales several times, do you/have you had chance to sample what Cardiff has to offer?
Oh many times! Last time we were here I played an amazing Pool hall in Swansea (The Garage).Some venues are quite corporate, so it's nice to play somewhere grassroots, the venue itself is run by a husband and wife duo, whose son is a famous pool player. I loved it! Last time I played Cardiff was Clwb Ifor Bach which is always amazing. But Cardiff on a Tuesday night is like party town! It was like central London on a Saturday, People really go for it so yeah Im well up for Cardiff. After the show Im off to Gwidwr bar which if you didn't know means Owl in English, to play another set. It's got a nice vibe in there.
For those uninitiated with Beans on Toast, can you tell me about the new album?
Basically what I do, which is honest, three-chord folk songs. My new album 'Give It Everything' came out in December. Each album I do, I tend to chose a musician rather than a producer to help put it together and bring in new ideas. I find this works best, and gives me someone to bounce ideas off.
So with that in mind, who do you write for; is it yourself or do you have a specific audience in mind?
I don't really think of anyone, it all comes naturally. I have a short attention span, so when I pick up a guitar I don't want to play songs I've already written. I don't really play anyone else's songs either, I'm not really a great guitar player so the natural thing to do is to just make up a new song. That's pretty much how I write, which I guess in one respect makes it a personal thing in answer to your question.
Can we expect to see you at festivals this year?
Yeah, it's basically at the core of what I do. When I started I did it to get into festivals for free. Every weekend I normally do 2, sometimes 3 festivals on a 15 week run. I can't announce today which ones as we are still putting things together, but I can tell you that I am definitely doing Boomtown this year. We usually bookend each summer with Glastonbury in June and Bestival in September and don't book anything either side to see what happens!
Do you get chance to check out other bands and bimble about?
Yeah I do, especially if I've only got the one festival on a weekend, then I stay. I'm a punter first, performer second.
What (if any) guilty pleasures can be found amongst your music collection?
Well, I am wearing a Jimmy Buffet t-shirt right now, which is a strange one because my dad has an obsession with him. Jimmy is a kind of a country/beach singer who whilst not well known here is huge in America. I guess he's not very cool, I used to hate it when my dad played him all the time, but as I got older I grew to secretly love him. A lot of his songs are about drinking and loose women as are mine haha.
I apologise for this, but have to ask about the name (everyone normally asks Jay about the name Beans On Toast, so thought I would ask something different) ..where does the name Jay come from .
Haha normally people ask me about the name Beans on Toast, but why not well, my brother is called Kes, named after a Kestrel. Quite randomly, and not something I had noticed before, one year my mother bought us all bird badges , one for my brother Kes one for his wife Maggie for Magpie, one for Maggie's daughter Robin and one for myself 'Jay' for Jaybird. It's a family of birds! I'm glad you asked, but thought you were reading off a bit of paper and got the question wrong haha!.
Finally, what do you do to chill out?
Touring for us is pretty chilled to be honest because it's a simple set up. We don't have any heavy gear to carry with us, we don't always need to soundcheck, so we are not under the same time constraints as other bands.
Yesterday in Bath was day one of the tour and as we got their early, we went to the spa which was bloody expensive (especially as we hadn't sold any merch at that point). If floating around in naturally heated water all day isn't chilling out, I don't know what is.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today, and good luck with the show tonight!
Thanks man, enjoy the show!