Jay McAllister, more widely known as the voice behind his alternative folk band Beans on Toast, is the man who gracefully immerses his lyrics with stories of love, politics and sardonic humour. Upon beginning the interview, it immediately became clear of not only his continuing ambition and drive, but his sincere love of producing and playing music. McAllister explained “touring is the lifeblood of what I do…I am on tour pretty much constantly out of choice, there’s nothing quite like it really”. He later explained that after only a week off after an extensive time of playing gigs and recording in the United States, he was embarking on his UK tour.
When asked about his experiences in America, McAllister seemed still in awe of his positive experiences and new opportunities, simply describing it as “a folk singer’s dream”. The places visited by him and his crew also appeared to offer up elements of mystery to contemplate, as he suggested the possibility that “America is so huge, maybe you could tour there forever and still play a different town every night”. It was not only McAllister that experienced elements of fantasy in the wake of his US tour as he recounted that many members of his audience were intrigued by his Essex origin stating “I seemed tropical to them… I got asked some very strange questions!” The Beans on Toast singer also elaborated his favourite moment of his American travels to be the consequences of a power cut during one of his performances. “Half way through the electricity bombed out completely, I told the crowd, if everybody sits down and shuts up – we can do the show”. This forthright way of thinking led to an exquisite experience for singer and audience alike, according to McAllister, “a disaster was turned on its head”.
The excitement for Beans on Toast does not stop there, however, with McAllister explaining that he already has a significant number of festival bookings for the summer months. BoomTown, however, is the one most favoured by the singer-songwriter as a result of the atmosphere of a “hometown crowd” and the smaller, more intimate venues. McAllister also makes reference to Frank Turner as a large contributor in his road to success in the music industry, stating “without Frank I wouldn’t be doing what I do now – he’s shaped who I am.” In further reflection of the person he has become over his ten years playing professionally, McAllister joked that he had “probably not learnt a lot” to which he then elaborated more seriously, “I like to think that the lessons you learn are buried deep in your psyche, they are involved in developing you as a character”.
Beans on Toast’s sixth album will be released this December and McAllister explains that a new tone will be present on the recordings establishing “I recorded it in Kansas with a band called Truckstop Honeymoon over a week, I moved into their house where they had barn converted into a studio. There’s a lot more going on including double bass, finger picking and trumpets”. Beans on Toast will be playing at Leeds’ very own Brudenell Social Club on November 19th and as a genuinely interesting and talented performer, it is well worth the trip for fans of the folk scene.