Beans on Toast: Interview and Gig Review

By Alice Wade

Following the release of latest album “The Inevitable Train Wreck” at the beginning of

December last year, sly satirist and much-loved folk singer Beans on Toast returned for

his 6 th consecutive year at Brudenell social club. The new album is a collaborative project

with Lewis & Kitty Durham, friends of Beans who flavour the traditional rasp of his

three chord tracks with a touch of vintage rock and roll.


Before the gig started, Brudenell piled high with punks and pints whilst Beans on Toast

or Jay McCallister, relaxed behind the scenes, having his tea. An assorted mix of ages

and their contrasting generational colours stood on the sticky carpet, drinking in the sea

of chattering fans as the gig approached. The audience stretched from elaborate punky

mohawks to a more familiar wash of Leeds students in their trackies.


A funky glitter back drop and an increasingly tipsy audience then greeted Beans as he

arrived on stage, appropriately kitted out in a yellow “keep Britain tidy” t-shirt. Well

known for his left leaning, balladesque lulls, his audience are as faithful to their poet as he

is to the cause.


From drug induced festival flings to recent hair-raising developments on Brexit, it’s fair

to say Beans has got the controversial covered. His music began in 2005 and includes

eleven albums that span 15 years of change. His latest album features a year of self-

reflective musings on the world, even including a song marking the tragic loss of long

loved guitar Martin. Despite the underlying twang of Lewis’ vintage equipment, the new

tracks are no stranger to his poignant, purposeful style as we hear both loving reflection

of fatherhood as well and hilarious political mockery.


Beans wraps up his album with a new favourite “On and On” which features a pretty

summative example of his writing and cheeky style with lines such as “so Donald is the

king and Boris is the queen...”. Nevertheless, in the face of these slightly cynical sweeps,

Beans is ever resilient and continues to conclude the song in his uniform optimism with

a rather more hopeful sentiment of “life goes on”.


Despite Beans’ appeal to the working man with his cheap, British honesty, his original

style and quirky songs reflect the unique diversity of the audiences that cram into each

of his energetic, comedic gigs. Cheerfully fatalistic and wonderfully honest, Beans on

Toast is a character in humour and in music and I hope he continues on his voyage of

reflections that keep his fans (and me) laughing in the face of perpetual change.


Before the show I was lucky enough to share a chat (and a beer!) with Beans and briefly

Lewis where we discussed the success of yet another album and the changes that keep

him inspiring him...


So, your new album was a bit different from the others because it didn’t

involve using any computers to make it, what made you do it?


Lewis: The computer was off man!

Beans: Yeah computer was off, real analogue, real world.


How was that?


Beans: Its Lewis’ studio, he built the studio, has an old friend and I approached and

him and was like, can you help me make an album and use all your .. vintage equipment.

It all homemade, he built the desk himself and the microphone, how do you build a

microphone?!

Lewis: Lots of wires and stuff! All the songs are about computers and stuff, logic bomb

and so on. It was completely juxtaposition to make it on analogue, old school stuff yeah.


Where did Beans on Toast come from?


Beans: Simple, effective, English, cheap, all the things I wanted to present myself as to

the world. When I came up with a name you know I had no idea how many times I’d end

up explaining myself to people! But, I think, you know, I’ll stick with it, does what it says

on the tin really…


If we suddenly find ourselves in Orwell’s dystopian nightmare of 1984, how

will you survive as an artist?


Beans: I mean whatever happens music survives, as long as we have humans, music

survives and generally going against the system. Someone out there would find a way, I

believe in music a lot more than I believe in all the other shit out there. Music will

continue.


You’ve played Glastonbury every year since 2007. How do you find these

more intimate gigs compare to festivals?


Beans: Well I love this venue. I’ve played here, the last 6 years on the trot. I mean this

is my size venue. In many ways every gigs different because sometimes its festival with a

big main stage or sometimes its late night in a small tent. There’s lots of differences

from gig to gig but at the same time there’s a lot of similarities there probably more

similarities once you get up there and you get into it. I’ve always felt really really natural

when playing a gig be it in a pub to 5 people or an arena to 10,000. It’s what I want to be

doing basically.

As long as there’s enough people for a vibe, then a gigs a gig, you just sort of, put your

heart into it.


I hear you welcomed your daughter into the world a couple of years ago,

how has that affected your outlook on the world?


Beans: Maybe strengthened my views that I already had, maybe a bit more passionate.

I’d be crazy to say it hasn’t changed me as a person you know going through something

so important. I’ve learnt more from her than I have anyone else, it’s strengthened my

beliefs, there seems more reason to care, more reason to love

On the flip side you know, she’s 2 years old and she’s so zen! I was touring through the

election and I was talking about it in the van, talking about it at gigs and then after this

two week tour I got home and I just sat with my daughter and you know, she don’t give a

shit about exit polls! Pure life, pure instant, all that matters is what’s right there in front

of you, it’s just zen.


So, how do you like your toast?

Beans: Definitely toasted … But I generally have what I’m given!


Photo credit: Brudenell Social Club

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