INTERVIEW: BEANS ON TOAST | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Images by Jem Mitchel

In the mid naughties, Jay McAllister was searching for free drinks and a good time, he decided that playing the guitar and singing was the best way to go about it. Ten years or so later, under the name Beans on Toast, Jay has been all over the world, released six studio albums, with a seventh on the way in December, and toured with some of the biggest names in music.

Currently touring around the States, but soon to be heading back to the UK and playing The Cluny on Sunday 15th November, Beans took some time out from his busy schedule for a quick chinwag about his beginnings, his style and his failed American alias.

You’ve gone so far from your humble beginnings. When you started out standing on a stool in bars, if someone had told you that you’d be where you are now, what would you have said?
I would have laughed. In fact I am still laughing. I never had any kind of plan other than some free booze and some good times. This year alone I’ve been all over the states, to the Bahamas and to South Africa. Which is nuts… and brilliant.

Do you still stand on the stool? If yes, why, if no, why not?
No, I stopped doing that after the release of my first record – standing on a chair. It was fun, but I started boring myself with it – so i mixed it up. Now i like to take my shoes of instead.

You’re currently in America and have spent plenty of time out there recently. Do they understand the name Beans On Toast out there? If not, what do they think it means?
It’s is definitely lost in translation, they have beans and they have toast but they never put them together, so mostly people think I’m trying to be wacky. When i do talk to people about it I explain that Beans on Toast is as common in the UK as a hot dog is here. I did try and get people to call me hotdog, but it didn’t catch on. Shame.

Where’s your favourite place to tour, the states or the UK? Or possibly elsewhere? Why?
One of the many things i enjoy about touring is the travelling, I wouldn’t say i prefer touring the UK or the USA or whatever – I love it all to be honest. The more new places i get to go to the better in my book. Touring is different from travelling cos it takes you to places you wouldn’t normally venture and you automatically have people in town who are ready to be your friend and show you around.

Beans On Toast INBODY - September 2015 - press shot 3 - credit Jem Mitchel__1445687076_128.65.101.133

When you are on the road, what do you miss most about home, if anything?
I miss my wife. Lots, but she does come out where possible.

You have a new album out in December. What can fans expect from your latest offering?
I recorded the new record in Kansas with a country duo called Truckstop honeymoon, they bring double bass and some ace finger picking guitar so the album has a fresh new sound to it. I’m super happy with it, it has songs about growing up, Charlie Hebdo, Afrikaburn, Art, Love and Robin hood.

You traditionally release your records on your birthday, why is that?
The first record just happened to be ready around that time and it seemed like a fun thing to do, also helped get a few bums on seats for my first album launch by calling it a birthday party. Since then it just feels right and I have a new record done at that time each year. SO why not.

What is it about your stripped-down style do you think people respond to?
No idea, I try not to think too much about that.

If you could create a collaborative record with three people, dead or alive. Who do you pick and why?
Skinny Lister – I’m travelling with them on tour with Frank Turner at the moment. We’ve just finished writing a Christmas song together and it’s ace.

Beans On Toast plays The Cluny, Newcastle on Sunday 15th November.

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