To read the review of the gig Beans performed after this interview, click here.
Obviously your new album Spanner In The Works marks a departure from your previous sound, what’s your musical approach going forward?
Good question, I don’t know?! With Spanner in the Works and generally, I write the songs first and then…I guess I’ve recorded each record in a different place with different people and as much as this one was done on computers it was still quite a natural progression because the songs were still written in the same format. So I’ll write these songs with a bit of freedom to feel like I don’t need to be tied to stringed instruments but at the moment it’s all up for grabs as far as the next record…I’ve got a few songs ready, how and where and what the sound will be in the recording is still undecided.
Oh that’s an interesting approach.
Which is fair enough seeing as its less than 2 months since the last one coming out!
You’re currently embarking on a tour to recognise the importance of independent music venues, how do you see the future of these venues panning out given the uprising of expensive ticketing and touting?
Well, music isn’t going anywhere is it? Obviously it’s a changing industry at the moment but it feels like every industry is changing as well and as much as like the song on the record (‘The Drum Kit’) is tackling the subject, it’s a bit kind of whingey and a bit like ‘oohh the venues are closing’. But I think actually independent venue week is almost the opposite of that, it’s a celebration of the venues that are open and that are innovative and moving forward. And there are a lot of these venues that are live and well across the whole of the country, and these venues have to adapt and move in time with the new sounds in order to stay ahead of it. But as much as there have been tragic cases of people being shut down due to their neighbours complaining and councils not being on their side and stuff like that… overall new venues are opening, people are being inventive and its exciting, its music. It’s not like anybody’s ever going to go ‘OK, we’re closing all the venues and no one’s allowed to listen to music’ and people would let that happen. So, its good.
So where did the name ‘Beans on Toast’ stem from?’
Er, I think it’s a pretty fair description of the music I make actually. Its kind of cheap, English, quite easy, does what it says on the tin sort of vibe, so I guess it came from that. I think originally for the first batch of songs I came up for it as a band name, intending to start a sort of band, then I did one gig solo and thought fucking hell this is easier, so I took it on as a moniker instead.
Out of all your albums, which would you consider your most treasured?
Not really. As much as I like my albums, once they’re kind of recorded and out I don’t really pay them much mind. They’re good marking points, but I’ve never been one to go and listen to them and that. I suppose the next one is always the most exciting one.
“…Cheap, English, quite easy, does what it says on the tin sort of vibe”
You’ve been friends with Frank Turner for a long time and recently supported him at his 2000th Show in Nottingham, how was that?
Yeah it was good, man. Y’know, I mean I wouldn’t have been able to do half the things that I’ve done in my life if it wasn’t for Frank to be honest like from touring in America and doing arenas and what-not, that was just sort of a continuation of that. I’ve been around for the whole rise of his career since the beginning. And he was just like, “Yeah, its show 2000” and dropped us a call and asked if I wanted to do it. It was a fun night, a lot of old faces showed up, and the band Tailors reformed for it. They’re kind of old friends from way way back in the day that I hadn’t seen for ages, so it was kind of like an old school reunion stroke massive fucking gig. So yeah, it was brilliant
On Track ‘2016’, you discuss the various political events, do you think you’ll start to get even more political with your music or is it a one off.
Well, I think I’ve always been quite happy about sharing my opinions in my songs. And that’s certainly not going to change. So no, that definitely wasn’t a one off.
Are you ever conscious during the recording process that a specific song is likely to blow up like ‘MDMAmazing’
Erm, not really, maybe… I wouldn’t say in the recording process. But definitely when you’ve finished writing a song and put pen to paper, when that bit of it’s done, you can kind of get a warm tingly feeling after that. But I wouldn’t necessarily differ it from one song to another like ‘this song’s the one’ or anything like that. Again, similar to the album thing each song has its own importance. I view it as one project, and all the bits- be it the writing of the songs or the making of the videos- are all part of one big project that works together. So it’s not like I isolate different angles of it and be like, ‘this is the song that is going to do this’, or anything like that. It’s all just kind of spread across it’s all spread across. Interesting question though…
Can you narrow your musical influences down to 3 main artists?
Yeah definitely, my favourite songwriter is a guy called Todd Snider, he’s still performing on religion records now. He’s kind of an American country singer and also kind of a hippy. I actually first found his music the first day when I got Spotify. When you’ve got a huge ocean and you can listen to anything you want y’know, like every song ever. And I just followed that ‘if you like this you might like..’, so I just sat there with a spliff for a couple of days and I just followed my path down. And I just found this guy and it was also nice because no one else really knows him and its my own personal find. And his music is incredible, and his lyrics are important and funny at the same time so he’s been a huge inspiration. Other songwriters, I’m also a big fan of Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes, I’ve always loved him, his new album’s really good. And…. Kate Tempest, shes a friend and we’ve worked together but I hands down believe that she’s the greatest poet alive today if not ever, I could listen to her day in and day out. When you listen to something that much it undoubtedly inspires you and your own words. So yeah, they’re my three.
Do you have a favourite all-time song?
My go to, would be a Todd Snider song called the ‘Ballard of the Devil’s Backbone Tavern’. It’s one of the only songs I do a regular cover version. I’ve always been pretty bad at singing other people’s songs and doing cover versions of them, but I do a good version of that because if you put a gun to my head and said ‘what’s your favourite song?’, it’s that. But obviously as you know, favourite songs come and go and differ quite a lot over the years.
Are there any lesser known artists that you reckon will produce good stuff in time to come?
Yeah well there’s this guy called and Funke and The Two Tone Baby…which is an odd name…but he’s really good. He’s a kind of beat-boxer, harmonica, loop-pedal dude. He plays a lot of blues music and we recently played some shows together and I’ve got a lot of time for him. I think he’s great. Also there’s a guy called Sky Smede, who I met over on my travels to the states but he’s been over here twice on tour with us. And he’s one of my favourite songwriters as well, he’s great.
“Never underestimate the power of your song”
Do any gigs in the past 5 years stand out for you?
I mean its easy to say Glastonbury, yeah, Glastonbury last year on the Avalon stage was a special moment for me. Mainly because of my long history with Glastonbury and well I walked on stage and said that it was going to be the best gig I was every going to play, and if you throw down a gauntlet like that then it kinda of carries through. So, that, but I do enjoy them all, I give the same amount of love to Guildford on Monday, it still gets the same amount of care and attention.
Oh so did you end up playing ‘I can’t get a gig at Glastonbury?’ when you were there?
Well I played it at Glasto this year and I was like ‘we’ll put this song to bed now, I’ll play it and I wont play it anymore’. But it’s weird how many people have tried to coax me into playing it since, its really weird! It’s like people are quite sadistic, they go ‘you’ve got to play it’ and I’m like, well one It was only 6 months ago since I said I wasn’t going to play it’ and two, I’m a man of my word and I’m not going to play it. Everyone was like…genuinely like the whole crowd were like “Play it!!” and I was just like, what are you doing? So yeah, I will stick to that and I wont play that song anymore, I guess it’s a nice finale for it.
I guess that’s quite similar to how Frank Turner stopped playing ‘The Ballard of Me and My Friends’ cause of a sense of fulfillment
Yeah there’s sometimes a sense that its run its course. But he’s brought it back a couple of times, but with a new vigour and life to it I guess.
Do you have any advice for budding singer-songwriters?
Concentrate on the songs, I guess. Never underestimate the power of the song. Obviously there are so many other things you need to do, y’know getting to the gigs all the online media bullshit and all that. But I think a good song can carry through a lot of the bullshit and kind of do a lot of the work for you so its worth spending a lot of time on that aspect and then letting that lead the way.