Interview: A conversation with folk artist Beans on Toast

Jay McAlliser, or ‘Beans on Toasts’ as many people know him as is an alternative folk musician from Essex. He’s been on the scene for a while, extensively touring and constantly releasing material. He has a vastly growing discography full of songs that commentate on a number of things from the political to the mundane. He does this through the art of what he likes to call ‘drunk-folk’ On December 1st he releases his 7th studio album Rolling Up The Hill. I caught up with him in a quick phone call to discuss the touring life as well as the making of this new album.

Hi Jay How’s It going? What are you up to at the minute?

Hi there, I’m not too bad at all, I’m currently in the car, going from Manchester to Leeds.  I’m currently on tour with Truckstop Honeymoon, this really cool band who I recorded my album with, they’re opening up for me as well as being my backing band. It’s in full swing and I’m going all out this time. It’s been really good so far.

For someone like you, who’s been on the scene for a while, is touring something that you still enjoy or do you find it all too run-of-the-mill?

Oh no I could never find something like touring run of the mill at all. There’s nothing quite like touring, it’s different to travelling or going on holiday or whatever. Mainly because it kinda feels like you have a purpose going to all these different places, and it’s like you’ve already got built in friends in every town that can show you around and give you a bit of local knowledge. So it definitely doesn’t get boring in that sense, you meet a lot of people!

Oh yeah, well you can certainly tell from the songs you write that you meet a lot of different people out there.

Well this is it, it’s kinda like a sort of self fulfilling prophecy almost, because you write a song because you’re interested in a certain place. This then gives you more inspiration to write a lot more interesting songs to kinda seek people out.

Your album comes out in a couple of weeks or so and you’ve been playing some of your new songs on tour,  are you one of those artists who are apprehensive when sharing new songs with your fans, or is it something that excites you?

Nah, I’ve always put new songs in the setlist. They’ll be songs that aren’t even on the new album that will find their way onto the set. You know? because as much as each album is a market point; we’re touring for this new one at the moment. It’s really a thing that never stops so there’s definitely always new songs. I don’t think I’m ever concerned about playing a new one, especially on this particular tour because the new ones do have double bass and finger picking guitars and shit which is all so exciting.

Oh definitely, sounds like it. You said you recorded this album with Truckstop Honeymoon, what was that like for you?

Yeah, it was amazing! They’re a husband and wife old school street performers, who live in Kansas – I happened to meet them because I saw them playing Larmer Tree festival and I really liked it. I sorta messaged them afterwards through email. It’s good because they’d seen my show as well and we hit off basically and then did a couple shows together in March last year. They had a studio and asked me if I wanted to go over and make a record and now here we are.

But due to the fact that I record an album a year, I’m always on the lookout for new people to work with, as well as new places to record. It’s honestly been a great project and obviously with them now being here, there’s nothing quite like it – they’re touring with their four kids!

Oh god, that certainly sounds hectic!

Haha yeah it’s pretty hectic, it’s nothing I’ver (sic) seen before. They’re definitely very free spirited people.

You mentioned that you do an album a year and that this will be the 7th year in a row where you release an album, does the thought of a break ever cross your mind?

Umm, It hasn’t yet and if it does well… I’ve not really promised anybody to do an album a year, it’s just what I do and I guess if I didn’t want to then I wouldn’t really do it. It seems about the natural output I have to be honest. If you’re constantly releasing music then you’re constantly touring and that’s what I want to be doing, so there’s no real need to stop.

What do you think you’ll spend your time doing if you ever did stop?

At the pub. I’d probably be behind the bar or something.

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