In The Middle With Beans on Toast

A folk singing national treasure took to the Brudenell stage on 7/2/20. Section editor Jessica caught up with him before the show to ask a few questions surrounding the rugged artist. 
He happily bumbled over in camouflage trousers with a signature yellow flower attached to his cap and guided us to a backstage room as his band prepared for sound check. Before beginning with the questions, he spoke of his favourite artist at the moment “country singer called Tyler Childers, pretty classic country but somehow has struck a chord with a young and mixed gendered crowd. Incredible songwriter”. Leading on to mention how shows like Peaky Blinders have revived the more unappealing genres for the new generation, with undertones of jazz and blues becoming more popular. Reminiscing about all the performances he’d seen over the years, he settled on a wholesome night listening to Beck; “the Royal Albert Hall, went by surprise, on my own, just Beck on his own with a bunch of old guitars and pianos, just telling loads of stories. Felt like I went around his house”. This influence can be seen on the artist himself, a magnificent storyteller through his lyrics.

He was introduced to music thanks to his upbringing with a proclaimed Beatle maniac for a mother and his father a die-hard country fan, they were happy to fulfil his request for a guitar.  Beginning his musical career in a band, he soon learned that he couldn’t play anyone else’s songs, so started to write his own, which eventually lead to where he is now. Wanted to be remembered simply “just for the songs”. A no muss no fuss musician who took his music interest into his own hands; the hand-crafted feel to his discography is therefore unsurprising and even more endearing. 

Famously putting out an album on the same date each year, “The album thing just happened, put it out on my birthday because we were going to do a birthday gig, and the next year another album was ready and we just did it on the same day and by the time you’ve done it three times it’s working. Now it feels like a natural output for me and means I can book tours really far ahead. As much as I didn’t plan it, it works, if there was a time to stop the annual thing it would be after ten”.

Beans On Toast felt shell-shocked as he was finally lead to the larger room within the classic venue, after playing it for the last six years, quipping about the history he felt had been made there. Opening the set with World Gone Crazy – first single from the new album – Beans commented on this being his favourite to play live, as any song he’s been working on usually is. Probably most well-known from the rounds he makes each year at festivals it was no surprise that his performance was aided by the New York Brass band that he met whilst at Glastonbury. 

He has been a reoccurring name on massive line-ups like Glastonbury and Boomtown over the last ten years. Solidly making a name for himself singing about politics, drugs and love, most significant is how personable he makes the subject matter feel. He added nowadays however, it seems to be more like “art, love and politics”. Commenting on politics especially that “there’s been so many cultural changes in this country since then that now it’s all anyone talks about because we’re heading for disaster more than anything else.”. His discography is well worth a listen to gain a more grounded take on social issues and life experiences; never one to sugar coat this candid performer left the room alight with smiles of his fans. Performance is one of his strong suits; when asked about the reason he enjoys it came a profound take on the topic,

“The feeling, you can’t beat it, especially the zen element, when I come off stage, I feel like I’ve only just started, because you kind of tap out, you don’t know where you go. Anything where your head just really clears is good for you, means you’re completely in the moment, there’s definitely an element of that in any performance and that’s what you’re chasing as a performer”.

The crowd was formed from a complete mixture of ages, clearly his music is one universally loved; he never shies away from song topics in fear of alienating these diverse groups, “you’d end up just not writing any songs”. He continued to explain that supporting Frank Turner is to thank for half the people who turn up to his gigs after supporting him on one of his tours. 

With a swell of crowd participation, Beans began to sing, arguably the song he’s most well-known for – M.D.M.Amazing. Sharing an anecdote about the song M.D.M.Amazing, he clarified that rather than the positive ending the song suggests, that was far from the truth; “I had to ask around for a free national express ticket and then sat alone on the bus watching the festival weekends highlights for the ride home, could’ve been worse”.

We all grabbed the person next to us for the last few songs, as the sense of community grew amongst obviously such likeminded people. As we nodded and sang along Beans thanked us graciously for coming out and being the reason, this was all possible for it. Just like he described the Beck gig, he had delivered the same intimate storytelling that is one to remember.