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Interview: Beans on Toast

Music and politics have always gone hand in hand, with artists such as John Lennon, The Clash, Rage Against The Machine, Bob Dylan, Billy Bragg – and many more besides – using their lyrics to attack the establishment and invoke social change. Naturally, this is happening more than ever today as young artists react to politically tumultuous times, using music as a platform to voice their concerns. Amongst these artists is folk singer Jay McAllister AKA Beans On Toast. Ahead of his show at The Leadmill on November 24th, Stevie Birchall nabbed 10 minutes with him on the blower as he arrived in New York City, the destination of the first gig of the tour.

By the sounds of it, he’s quickly settling into his time in the big apple: “It’s great!” Jay tells us. “I’m in the US for five weeks, touring and drinking, spending a lot of my time talking about Donald Trump with like-minded people in veggie cafés.”

The tour is in support of new album ‘A Spanner in the Works’, due to be released December 1st. “It’s referring to fucking things up a bit: it’s time for change.” Never one to shy away from expressing his thoughts, Beans On Toast has always been a topical lyricist, covering everything from politics to war, drugs and love. Has he ever thought about the impact his music can have on an audience?

“I take it with a pinch of salt, but I do believe in 99% of my songs. It is extremely important to talk about movements, thoughts and feelings that are happening at the time; it’s a simple way to change quite a lot.”

Undoubtedly, his new album continues in the same vein. One track that particularly stands out is ‘The Drum Kit’, which tackles the issues currently facing the music venue industry.

“I used to work in a music venue, so I know what it is like. Noise licenses can be tough, but I don’t think music will go anywhere.” An issue that’s close to his heart, Jay is a staunch believer in looking at these kinds of things with a fresh perspective. “The pressure should be on how we can open new music spaces as well as clinging onto the old ones. That is just as important.”
So where has this love of all things music stemmed from? “My parents are the inspiration. They’re music lovers; my dad’s into country and my mum is a huge Beatles fan. But my influence to write comes through my thoughts, feelings and life itself.”

We finish the conversation discussing the upcoming tour and his Sheffield visit. “I’m really looking forward to getting going, I love touring. I’m extremely excited to get back to Sheffield after a long stint away. We don’t underestimate the power of playing a gig, so we will be mixing things up with new and old tracks. There’s something for everyone.”

Catch Beans On Toast at The Leadmill on November 24th. Tickets and more info available at leadmill.co.uk.




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