This December 1st, as with every December 1st since 2009, welcomed a new LP from Essex’s finest alternative folkie Beans on Toast. On his current tour, promoting this latest release, Rolling Up That Hill, we caught up with Jay for a chat about rowdy live performances, his job as a bin man, and the special place in his heart for the city of Nottingham.
IMPACT: So I’ll begin with the name, it’s an interesting one. Where did it come from?
Jay McAllister: I think it’s quite descriptive. It’s cheap, easy, and British; I was originally going to start a band so I had it in mind as a band name, but when I started out I just took it as a moniker.
I: You’re well known for your live performances, what is it that you bring to the stage?
J: It’s kind of an organised chaos, but sometimes it dissolves into actual chaos. It’s just what I’ve always done, do a few songs and dance around a bit. We don’t have set lists so we like to play around with it, and I usually get pretty drunk beforehand. It changes around a lot because I started off as a solo act, but then I got Billy Banjo in so I could dance around a bit. The newest thing is that we’ve got Truckstop Honey who are playing almost as a backing band to make a four piece.
I: You release a record on December 1st every year, where did this idea come from?
J: It happened really naturally. The first was coming out about the same time as my birthday so I thought I could have a birthday / album release party. It just happened to be that way with the second album and by the time we were releasing the 3rd one it had just become a bit of a thing. It means you can constantly tour and play festivals if there’s a new album each year.
I: How long do you see yourself doing a record a year and touring?
J: Well as long as people will have me really! It’s the best job I’ve ever had by far.
I: What’s the worst job?
J: I was a bin man, for a day. It was a bit too hard core for me. I used to work at a temping agency and one day they said: “come in an hour early and bring some steel toe cap boots”. They didn’t tell me what I was going to be doing. The bin men get paid until 3pm no matter what time they finish so they ran to finish quickly. I just couldn’t keep up.
I: Where’s your favourite place to play in Nottingham?
J: I used to play in the bar area (of Rescue Rooms) for a long time. They used to do this acoustic night on Wednesday’s that I’d drop in on when I passed by. I once played in a cave in Nottingham – it was an after party and we went in with candle lights and smashed out a small gig in there.
I: Where’s your favourite place to play?
J: Glastonbury is a Mecca, and Boomtown is always really good, but it’s the same answer with cities and festivals that I like – all for different reasons.
I: What does Nottingham bring that’s special?
J: I’ve got some really close friends, almost cousins, here that I used to hang out with as a kid but we kind of drifted apart. With touring, I pass through a lot so I’ll see them a lot, we’ve got tomorrow off so we can hang out together.
Beans on Toast was speaking to Jack Smiddy
Image from Mark Holmes via Flickr