An Interview with Beans On Toast

Rascally British folk hero and Frank Turner contemporary Beans on Toast (Jay McAllister) was good enough to take some time ahead of his upcoming US tour to answer a few of our questions; about his influences, his new album The Grand Scheme of Things, and whether or not he’ll be getting a gig at Glastonbury this year.

Beans on Toast

Afternoon Jay, how’s it going? How did 2014 treat you?

Yes it’s going very well thanks man, 2014 was extremely kind to me. Perhaps even the best year yet. I think I say that every year though.

You have a US tour coming up later in the year – how do gigs in the US compare to gigs in the UK? Do they like the cut of your British jib?

Yes it’s true. I’m out there for the whole of March, I can’t wait. This will be the third time I’ve been out there touring – I love it. Nobody was sure if they we’re gonna “get it” as such – but if anything I ham up the Englishness of it all and it generally seems to go down well. I’ve also now got a fair few tunes about American stuff – so they do know what I’m on about.

Saying that, the name doesn’t translate well at all. Doesn’t make any sense to them. So I’ve started to call myself Hot Dog when I’m stateside.

Who are you key influences in the folk world?

There’s shit loads – from Todd Snider, John Prine, Jimmy Buffet, to Dylan, The Boss and Woody Guthrie: but when you go real far back I find that you always end at Leadbelly – I think he created it.

You’ve collaborated with Cultured Vultures’ favourites Frank Turner and Kate Tempest in the past. Any other exciting collaborations on the horizon? If not, who would like to work with in the future?

Yeah, I met an amazing band called Truckstop Honeymoon at Larmer Tree festival, they’re from Kansas (via New Orleans) and I’m gonna meet up with them while I’m out there and see what happens, they’re like my new favourite band so it’s real exciting.

Beans on Toast

The new album, The Grand Scheme of Things touches on a lot of contemporary political issues. With it being an election year, and with many of our readership eligible to vote for the first time, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t ask: Which party are you the least distrustful of ahead of the election?

I’m glad you asked. Two weeks ago I think I would have said that I’m not registered to vote and there is nobody worth voting for. Now I feel the complete opposite: after reading the Green Party manifesto I am convinced they can make a real change for the better in a time when it’s needed most. I’ve now registered and am fully behind them, I’m sat wearing my new Green Party T shirt right now (I shit you not) I’m gonna try to help out and spread the word a bit. Watch this space.

The 9th track on the new album, “All I See Is Wagamama”, is a powerful folk ballad about how beautiful and unique urban subcultures – particularly in London – are being crushed under the wheel of gentrification. This naturally raises the question: What’s your favourite Wagamama dish?

Haha! Yaki Soba.

This is Yaki Soba. Looks pretty good.
This is Yaki Soba. Looks pretty good.

Any book recommendations?

Yep, my favourite author of all time is Tom Robbins. I’ve read each of his books 3 or 4 times, nothing comes close. A good starting point for his work would be “Another roadside attraction”

And finally, you’re probably going to get this question in every interview, every year for the rest of your life: Can we expect to see you at Glastonbury this year?

Fingers crossed my man!

Beans’ new album The Grand Scheme of Things is available on Xtra Mile Records (so are the rest of his albums for that matter). Go buy one. Seriously, they’re really damn good.

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