Beans on Toast – Interview

Beans on toast

So Beans on Toast, how’s everything going?

Yeah, really good! Here in Leicester, I guess we must almost be halfway through the UK leg of this tour.

We were in Leeds last night at the Brudenell Social Club, one of the most beautiful venues in the country I think. But yeah the tour’s fun and I’m excited for tonight.

Do you have any stand out memories from this tour so far?

Well it all kinda merges into one really doesn’t it? I don’t really like to pin one gig up against the other but they seem to have been getting constantly better which is kind of nice so… actual memories. To be honest one thing I’m not very good at is remembering things, I’m sure there’s a lot of stuff that I’ve forgot. I’ll have to come back to you on that one.

You’ve obviously toured quite a lot and been all over the place. Not maybe specifically to this tour but on every single show I’ve seen you at you always have a story to tell about shenanigans in between shows.

Do you have a favourite story you often like to tell?

In this kind of run I was out in the states before this tour opening for Frank Turner and I guess the most memorable show on that run was in San Francisco at the Philmore which is a legendary place and you know it’s legendary because all day people tell you it’s legendary.

They do this thing where at every sold out show they choose a different artist and hand draw the artwork for posters and if the show sells out it goes up on the wall and it’s got Hendrix, The Grateful Dead and all the old greats are all up there and there was just something about the day being at this really beautiful legendary venue. It had sold out so our names were gonna go up on the wall and I got a tattoo during the day that was hobo code for ‘The Sky’s The Limit’.

As I walked out and was half way through the first song the electricity blew and the power just died out, just on the stage not the lights or anything. And it wasn’t just ‘someone’s turned this down’ you could tell it was going to take a while to fix as it sort of crackled, popped, then died out completely. It was lucky that it was me and not a full band as I was just like ‘Okay, we can deal with this if everyone sits down and shuts the fuck up’ and this was like 2,500 people but as soon as I said everybody sit down, the whole crowd went BANG! and just hit the floor.

So I was like f**k we might be able to make it work so I sort of clambered out, stood in the middle and was like I’m happy to do it but you have to literally just.. normally I’m not one of those people that makes people shut up at gigs you know do what you gotta do we all want to talk about the music while we watching it. But to make it work we needed everyone to shut up and everybody did and it was such a mint show and with it being such a legendary venue, all the gigs seemed to blur together but this one stuck out.


Oh, and another story from that tour.

I was travelling with Skinny Lister, the other support band. Lorna and Max are local to Leicester, that band consists of the girl singer. her husband and her brother. And her and her brother are from Leicester but I was travelling with them for the whole 10 weeks in the van sharing hotel rooms and what not and we actually wrote and recorded a song which we’re releasing today which was Christmas Song.

Yeah! I checked that out this morning, that’s some good stuff! Really nice tune.

We wrote it all on the road and it was like kinda natural. We’re mates anyway but spending 7 weeks with another band it’s quite natural for me to be like this and I was just like saying to my wife before I left ‘I’m gonna tap them and we’ll do a quick Christmas tune together as the timings right.’ I thought I’ll wait till we get to know each other a bit but on the first night I got hammered and was like ‘I KNOW, I wanna do a Christmas tune!’ And so we did!

We wrote it in like parking lots and as we were travelling across the states. And I was like we need to do it now as we only had one day off so we found a studio in Oakland. We had a 7 or 8 hour drive that day, we went into the studio at 10 o’clock in the morning and got in there till like 2 o’clock in the afternoon dressed up with boiling hot sunshine outside, out our Christmas hats on. I had to find the Christmas hats in San Francisco which wasn’t an easy job and put the Christmas hats on, did the tune, rolled it out and it was great and it was all sort of bish, bash, bosh and was another great thing that came out of that tour.

I need to digest this tour before I can explain it. It feels like it’s still going… well it is.

I saw last night on Twitter that Xtra mile had posted Skinny Lister, Beans on Toast, Christmas. So I thought ah, that’s one to watch then.

Yeah! Well randomly because Frank’s tour continued into the UK and Skinny were on that tour as well and Will Varley who is another kind of friend and family and he is doing the opening slot with them. So we’ve kind of been crossing paths all over. I was with them in Newcastle this time last week and it turns out Skinny have got a day off today and are in Leicester so Lorna and Dan are coming down to do the Christmas song.

We planned to put it out today anyway but then it was like ‘oh I’m in your home town’ and they were like ‘so are we’ so I said ‘well you’ve gotta come down and do the tune then’. I don’t know how happy they are about having one day off and doing a song and everything else with me but yeah they’re coming down with the whole family.

It’s amazing how you guys keep it up as I went to the two Nottingham shows that they did recently and then to the Birmingham one and with just those three I felt knackered and just to know they’ve got a whole bunch of tours going on as well as coming out to do this tonight.

Yeah well no one’s gonna complain about touring man. They choose to do it and they love it, of course they do. There’s heart in the job.

Aye, to be able to go out there, do what you love and see everyone else enjoying it and having a great time. That’s what it’s all about.

So speaking of support acts and what not, you’ve obviously toured with a lot of different bands. Is there a particular dream line up you’d love to be a part of?

Well, I’m sort of happy with my lot, you know, I mean I’ve worked with some pretty dreamy people over the years like Kate Tempest and the Mumford guys and stuff like that so do you mean if I was to book a festival line up?

Yeah, essentially.

Well it’d be an amazing thing to do! It’d be pretty diverse. I’d also quite like it if there was… what feels completely separate to me is the kind of country world. Like a bunch of American song writers like Todd Snider and Hayes Carll, even Robert Earl Keen and John Prine, the kinda older ones where the music is kinda UK music but kinda from the folky stuff and the indie stuff. It feels like my life has always been quite intertwined with it and it feels quite… well it’s just quite there you know?

So yeah all of them John Prine, Todd Snider, Hayes Carll and Adam Carroll, and it’d be in England rather than Galveston or something.

You’re getting your new album out ‘Rolling Up The Hill’ and it’s certainly from what I’ve seen of my friends and what not it’s got a lot of anticipation. Near enough ever morning when I wake up my brother is blasting some tunes of yours out his room.

Yeah we recorded this out in Kansas with a band called TruckStop Honeymoon, I met them at a festival in the UK and they are like old New Orleans street performers, they all live out in Kansas and they’re brilliant. A husband and wife duo and I loved them.

So I went to them after the set and told them how much I enjoyed it and as it turns out they’d seen my show and we just kinda hit it off basically. I was in the states in March and we did a couple of gigs together and we went to the house and they noted that they had a studio out in the barn at the back of the house. Mike’s a bit of a legend, he’s made thousands of records.

So we went out in August me and Bob and spent a week with them and their kids and yeah made a record basically. It’s got like double bass and loads of finger picking guitar and kinda different sort of vibes. Now they’ve come over and they’re on this tour and opening up as Truck Stop Honeymoon, and also playing the new songs for me as a sort of backing band. An all singing, all dancing Beans on Toast performance for this tour which is great you know, just a kind of nice project to work on. Right from the off it’s all come about really nice and you know they are as relaxed about making music as I am which is why we work so well together.

Definitely, that’s really cool!

So a question my brother asked about the new album, what kind of overall theme do you think this album falls into?

Well all the songs are about things, but I don’t know whether it groups together as it’s such a diverse range of subjects. I guess the title is a nod at, you know, getting a bit older, but you know there are love songs, there are songs about travel, there’s songs about art, there’s songs about Robin Hood. So yeah each song has a theme which is very clear as to what it is when you listen to the song but I wouldn’t say there is one running theme across it all.

With respect to the colour of the album, is that something that has meaning or just a ‘hmm I fancy this colour this time round’?

Well it’s just the colour of the record really, I’ve never really thought about it more than that. I think the colour always suits the album.. THAT’S THE THEME!

But yeah it’s.. well I just know.

For sure, it’s just interesting when I hear people discussing ‘oh he seems to have gone for this one and it’s got this kind of texture, ohh I bet that means this’.

Haha, wow I didn’t realise people read really deep into it, but yeah it’s just the… I think the label thought it was the colour of my bed sheets because the red one I told them it was just a pillow that was handy but I was like ‘how often do you think I change my bed sheets?’

Right so you’ve got a whole bunch of songs, like you say a massive range covering lots of topics from all your different records. When it comes to making a bit of a setlist does it just come down to what you personally enjoy playing and a few fan favourites?

Well I don’t really like to do setlists but over the course of a tour a general structure will work its way out but it will always be elements of ‘what do you guys want to hear?’ or whatever I’m thinking or feeling at the time.

I sort of thought that since we were doing this stuff with Truck Stop and it was like a full band thing I was like maybe then we were gonna have to do setlists which I wasn’t that keen on and what actually happened was we were supposed to have been.. well the tour started in Aberdeen and we were supposed to have been at the venue at 3 o’clock in the afternoon so we could kind of rehearse and work out a set as we hadn’t seen each other for months and our van broke down on the way there.

So Truck Stop made it there on time getting there from Kansas and me and Bob got there 20 minutes before the doors opened so we didn’t get that rehearsal, so we just kinda jumped up on stage anyway and was like ‘who wants to hear TruckStop play a bunch of songs they’ve never heard before?’ and it went well, it was such a good laugh and it felt so much more like a Beans on Toast gig than if it was a super well rehearsed thing.

We just decided not to bother with that rehearsal ever and it’s all just been getting a little bit better as it goes along but they’re such good musicians and with that it’s helped keep the kind of chaos that Beans on Toast gigs should be. So yeah, no setlists – I try and mix it up each time.

Something I always advertise about your gigs to people when I come away from them is that it’s an experience more than anything as each night just seems to be dramatically different. I remember on one tour I went to three of your shows and every night had a completely different feel to it, it’s all so cool.

Well yeah, I guess not having a setlist helps with that. You know it’s not like I havn’t told the same story a whole bunch of times but yeah you feel differently each day and like I say I do just try and always mix it up.

Are there any songs you particularly enjoy playing and so hope the crowd shouts out for?

Oh no, if I want to play it I’ll just f**king play it ya know, haha, I wouldn’t bother waiting.

The unfortunate thing that happens is when people shout out songs that me or Bob wouldn’t be able to remember so if I would have known in advance then we could have had a little run through and worked it out but once it’s going I think ‘oh I would have liked to have played that one’ or I just get to the end of first verse and I’m like ‘naa it’s gone’.

Well you heard a bit so they you go ey?

Yeah, that’s generally the attitude.

As you’re playing down in Leicester tonight do you have any Leicester based stories or memories?

I’ve not done all that much in Leicester, we’ve played The Cookie Jar a couple of times and it was generally in or out. Unfortunately my memories of Leicester are Wetherspoons you know.

I like Shila Carpenter who is a great local song writer and Grace she’s brilliant and Max and Lorna from Skinny Lister as well. So I love Leicester for the people it produces but don’t know much else unfortunately.

Well I think that’s a pretty good compliment for a city if it puts out some good people.

So what are you listening to right now?

Well Turnpike Troubadours new album is really good but my new favourite is a band call The Devil Makes Three, who are like a banjo, guitar and double bass three piece who do kinda like really original rock and roll. It’s great because their newest album I think was last year but it’s one of those things where you find a band that have been going round for ages so they’ve got like 5 albums and rather than having to wait for a new release I’ve just been slowly making my way though their old stuff. It’s f**king brilliant!

But yeah, rather than buying them all I got one and I’m like ‘hey a new Devil Makes Three record!’ It’s like first finding Dylan – you don’t have to wait for anything, it’s all just there and it goes on forever basically, so yeah The Devil Makes Three.

Excellent, I’ll be sure to check them out!

Right so finally I asked some fans online for some quick fire questions so we’ll quickly burn through these to close

Brown sauce, Red sauce or no sauce?

Depends what you’re eating but I’d say Brown.

Do you have a lucky number?


Who would win in a fight – Frank Turner or Cliff Richard?


Does your hat have a name?

My hat?

Yep, apparently the fans need to know.

Naa just called.. My hat.

Lastly any words of wisdom you’d care to share?

Well just like with life you know, be nice and tell the truth.

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