Disclaimer: This interview was actually done earlier this year in the beer garden of the Adelphi in Preston. For a number of reasons, it’s taken a while to see the light of day. It was a pleasure to chat to Jay (Beans On Toast), and I’m glad this is now out there for people to read.
Beans On Toast rolled into Preston earlier this year for his first performance in the city, as part of the Brothers Flavour of Freedom Tour.
Split into two legs, the tour saw Jay (Beans On Toast) play shows with the likes of The Din and Molotov Jukebox (featuring Harry Potter and Game of Thrones star Natalia Tena).
“Molotov Jukebox, who did the first half of the tour, are such an amazing band. You could put them anywhere and everyone will dance,” Jay says. “[Natalia’s] amazing, man. She’s got it all – she’s sexy, she can play the accordian, she can dance. It’s just a winner.”
The tour itself was been sponsered by Brothers Cider, who funded the event “to make themselves look cool,” he jokes. “It’s pretty much taking money from cider, taking it and giving people free music.”
Whilst the cynic in many of us could point out the good publicity Brothers would have gained from this, Jay points out that, through its loose affiliation with Strummerville, the Flavour of Freedom Tour provided a useful platform for a number of bands.
“The idea with Strummerville is to help new bands,” he explains. These bands dn’t necessarily have an opportunity to play outside of their local area to big enough crowds.
“Say they go to Preston”, Jay says. “No-one’s heard of them, no-one’s gonna show up – so they can’t get paid.”
Between Strummerville choosing the bands, and Brothers funding the tour, it allowed several acts to play to an audience they wouldn’t otherwise have had.
Back in April, Beans On Toast joined Billy Bragg and dan le sac vs. Scroobius Pip to complete the line-up for Frank Turner’s headline show at London’s Wembley Arena, a world away from the pub and house shows Jay’s used to playing.
Not one to feel the nerves, Jay admits that other people dwelled on the occasion more than he did. “People were asking if I’d decided what I was going to wear,” he laughs. “Who gives a shit?”
Despite the jokes, it’s clear that it meant a lot for Jay to play with close friend Frank, given that the two started out together at the Nambucca pub in Halloway, a place both have fond memories of.
As the conversation continued, I asked Jay about a worrying claim from a musician I’ve spoken to on a couple of occasions – that, particularly for bigger acts, live shows are becoming more telegraphed and scripted. Is that true of a Beans On Toast show?
He laughs: “Fuck no! Have you seen me play? It’s not a big issue with the shows I’m doing, but it must happen with the arena shows. There’s so much more to take into account.”
It’s a reassuring response, one that was reaffirmed during Jay’s set at the Adelphi later that evening.
Playing to a decent crowd, of ranging ages, Beans On Toast put on a highly entertaining show, delighting the assembled masses to the likes of ‘New Shoes Blues’ and ‘This Side of the Fence’.