“I’m more of a spaghetti hoops man”: An interview with Beans On Toast

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Jay McAllister has been making music under the name Beans On Toast since 2005, when he played Glastonbury (and has done every year since, too). Having also played Boomtown and having toured with Flogging Molly and Frank Turner, he’s a familiar figure to many folk fans. His songwriting often touches on the serious with subjects including drugs and politics, though his Facebook page describes him as a ‘drunken folk singer’ and despite now having headlined tours across the US, he still maintains a fun and laid back approach to his music.

For The Edge, Carly-May sat down with him in Joiners’ now infamous backstage to talk about the recent release of his seventh album Rolling Up The Hill – and the birthday he released it on.

How are you?
Very well, we’re here in… a door without a door, great. That’s why everyone pays attention to the cock room…

I actually think that’s where it came from. I need to stop interviewing people in here! Some people are very proud of their drawings on it though.
If you can’t draw a crowd, draw a cock.

How are gigs going?
I’ve never been so off tour for years. January and February are both pretty free, sporadic gigs, Bristol in February and then in March it all gets going.

You had an album on your birthday, right?
Yeah, seventh. Seven albums on seven birthdays.

Why is it always released on your birthday?
Good way of putting out an album a year, just sort of fell into place that way. First album was going to come out around that time so I just put it then. It was a thing that happened very naturally, and without thinking too much it turned into something that really worked for what I do because if you put out an album a year then you get to keep on touring and keep on playing festivals and shows. People know it’s a constantly moving thing.

Do you feel pressure? Does it start getting closer to your birthday and you think, ‘oh, I’ve not got enough’.
Not at all! The thing is I haven’t
promised anyone to have an album every birthday.

Do you not worry people would be angry if you missed one?
I don’t think anyone gives that much of a shit, really. The minute anything starts worrying me I wouldn’t do it, and it feels like a natural outcome. I actually think if I had an album to come out next week I’d write an album for next week, but it’s not like anyone is waiting on it that much, I don’t owe anything to any label. It feels natural and I like doing it, if it turned into a hassle then I wouldn’t do it. That’s why I like it.

Do you like beans on toast?
No. I don’t hate it… It makes sense to the music I make. Simple, easy, English, cheap. But I’m more of a spaghetti hoops man. Doesn’t have the same ring to it. But I’m not against it! Just gave myself a silly name.

Do you find it weird, having a fanbase?
Not at all, it’s nice – you get a lot of hi-fives doing what I do and it’s nice to be able to travel round, it’s an extension of what I’ve always done. Even from just working in a pub and being a friendly bartender who got the hi-fives. To be honest I’m just searching for a free beer.

Do you ever worry if you were out and had a few too many drinks, of someone seeing you and being like, ‘oh, I don’t like that Beans On Toast, he’s all drunk and lairy’?
If anything I’m known for being drunk and lairy! My gigs are like a… drunken car crash. I worry about that as much as everyone should, nobody wants to be a fucking dick, but I don’t think the way I act on a night out is going to affect how many records I sell, ‘course not.

Do you ever worry about putting on a certain image or persona? You are just Beans, right?
100%. I’ve been wearing the same clothes since I was 16 years old.

…Not the actual same clothes – I have washed them – but none of that shit bothers me at all.

Beans On Toast is touring the US and UK throughout 2016. Rolling Up The Hill is available now.

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Third year PAIR student and live editor. Also the Wessex Scene's Head of Events. Fan of cats, gigs and a tea lover - find me rambling about politics and cats @_Carly_May on Twitter.

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