eFestivals spoke to Jay McAllister, the man behind Beans on Toast, who does not actually like Beans on Toast....
You're rushing off to Farm Festival in Somerset after today's set...
Yeah exactly, today if it all goes to plan we'll actually be doing four festivals in one day. Not playing four but actually going to four. I woke up at Standon Calling, drove here, do one today, then go to Farm fest to play at ten o'clock and leave Far Fest and go to Camp Bestival and sleep at Camp Bestival. So we aren't rushing around tomorrow... basically putting all the mission in one day, so last night was pretty relaxed and in theory Sunday will be relaxed as well. I'm doing a songwriting workshop with children at one o'clock tomorrow afternoon so...
After that have you got any more festivals coming up?
Yeah, it's like every weekend. Next weekend we're doing Boardmasters and then Boomtown, following weekend Beautiful Days, right the way through until like mid-September.
Have you done Beautiful Days before?
I haven't, it's my first time and it's like one of them ones where people have been really in my ear... It's strange; people kinda think that you choose the festivals you play. They're like "Why don't you do Beautiful Days" and I say "Well it's not up to me!" If it was up to me I'd be ya know, you have to get asked to lay them. I'm looking forward to it.
Is there a festival you would like to play that you haven't yet?
Erm, Burning Man maybe? I've never been there and I hear great things. I did Bonnaroo in the States and I thought Americans were gonna do festivals really badly, but it was a real turn up for the books, thought it was amazing. I would like to do some more American ones but, I'm happy with my lot, I don't try to be rude and like "Now I wanna do this!"
How do you find your songs translate in other countries?
In my head they don't translate at all. Every time I go I'm like "How the fuck?" cos if you don't understand it it's just a fucking G chord at the end of the day. Because of that I kinda play to it... I played a festival in Latvia and just met a bunch of people and learnt how to swear in Latvian. I learn't how to say "Suck my dick bitch" which is the most offensive thing in the Latvian language. I basically walked on and sung that. They loved it! Ya know, I kinda utilize it...
America is a different story, cos everyone was like "Are they gonna get it?" and I really hammed up the Englishness, ya know, something about Prince Harry and I wrote a couple of tunes about America. There, cos obviously they understand the language, it gets better. There are plans to do a bit more in Europe but yeah, I see where you're coming from, it could be dead in the water...
What was your first festival as a punter and did it sucker you in for life like myself (Glastonbury 1999). What is it about them do you think that does that?
Same as! 16 years old and everyone from school was like yeah we're all off to Glasto. They all just bailed on me but I had the ticket so I went down there literally alone and it changed my life, is the only way to put it. From there I went to Reading that same year. I just used to do the two of em growing up, I did Glasto and Reading every year, which was kinda nice. Now I've kinda joined the dots between em. As much as I love Glastonbury for its kinda hugs I liked Reading for its "Grrrr!" as well.
What is your favourite festival memory?
I met my girlfriend at Lounge On the Farm at a Toots and The Maytals gig. That'll do it.
I hear that you do not like beans and toast?
Word gets out!
Do you like beans OR toast?
I definitely like toast, I quite like spaghetti on toast but it doesn't have the same ring to it.
You were credited as the reason for Frank Turner's change to acoustic when you opened for him at the 02 Arena this year. That's a pretty big deal...
Yeah, he said that, I never said it, would be an arsehole thing for me to say wouldn't it! Yeah he has, we're old mates and I used to an open mic night back in the day when he was playing in Million Dead so he looks after me, hence the arena shows. I saw him last night at Standon.
Do Handshake (The Beans Experience) join you at all your shows and festivals?
You've been reading the Wikipedia page haven't ya?
A little bit, yeah...
[Laughs] I did one Summer with Handshake as a backing band about four years ago... I don't know who writes the Wikipedia pages. I tried to change it but like, that's all bullshit, the Beans Experience and all, I don't know what they're talking about to be honest! I sometimes put a bit of a band together for the Summer.
At the moment Beans On Toast is a duo, it's me and Bob [banjo player] there's no rules; whoever happens to be there. It's quite easy to create a band for festivals, cos you know people are after free tickets throughout summer, so you can kinda piece the band and then sometimes I'll come into the studio with the band and record and then disband them and carry on solo. There is no rules.
The Slamboree track 'The Festival's Not Dead', how did that come about?
At Eden festival. I saw Slamboree at some festival down South that I was playing at and was completely blown away by the way the way it felt like it didn't belong to anybody. It was a complete musical free-for-all and I was really like "Wow that's amazing". At Eden, two years ago now, I was onstage talking about it and bigging em up, saying everyone's gotta come down, and sat down for dinner and the guy sitting next to me was like "Mate, I woke up listening to you big me up!" That was Mike, and we've been thick as thieves ever since. That night I was like "I'm gonna join your band" and he was like "Yeah, yeah", I was like "I'm gonna join the band!"
That year at Secret Garden [Party] he comes to watch my show and was like "You can fucking join the band". Their show... the tent was rammed; I said "I'm gonna rap, I'm gonna rap!" and he said "Do the first song" and I was like "Woah! Maybe not the first tune! Why don't you go and do a couple, then I'll come up and do a tune?" He's like "No no, do the first one!" I've never known someone who's so not precious about what they do, which is a great, I mean most artistic people... which isn't as bad thing but being that playful with your music and that open is a beautiful thing and I love Mike for that.
At Secret Garden this year he was DJing; we've got another tuner we've been working on, and he was DJing the at dance off, and I was given a radio mic, and went into the middle of the danceroom, for his whole DJ set, so I'd be talking to someone, and then I'd turn on the mic and say "What's that mate?" and it would just come out of the PA and everyone's like "How do you keep doing that?" "Don't worry about it." Amazing.
The 'Meaning Of Art' Project, where did that idea come from? How many canvases did you have left over?
It came from a gallery that belongs to a friend of mine. I was there and I basically said to one of the guys "This is shit innit, this art exhibition" I mean, the painting were just bad. I was being really crass and rude and saying "I just think this is crap". The guy said "I'd rather be a bad artist than someone in slagging someone else's art off!" I thought fair dos and I went "Well I can do better!" and he said "Well go on then!" and I did! That's how it came about.
The worst thing is the guy who that was about was a Rasta dude, and on the day I was filming it he came down and, this is bad, another Rasta came down, I'm pretty forgetful and I got em confused, and I'm like "This is you, you created all this!" He didn't know, and he's thinking "What the fuck is this guy on about?" Then the actual guy, Leon, turned up and I was like "I got the wrong Rasta!" There was a lot of mistakes made that day!
And yeah, we couldn't give em away! I went back two days later and in my heart we were still gonna sell 'em, I made the film really quick and put it up and thought maybe people would buy 'em. I said can I leave 'em here and the guy said "No one's gonna buy these Jay. If you leave em here I'm gonna paint over em and let real artists paint pictures on em." I was like "Fuck."
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