Beans On Toast interview: 'Life itself is my greatest inspiration'

Cult folk hero, Beans On Toast, had a chat with us about his upcoming tour, inspirations, unusual places he’s performed, Taylor Swift, and more.

Skiddle Staff

Date published: 1st Dec 2022

A veteran of the scene, Jay McAllister, AKA Beans On Toast, has been touring extensively and releasing albums every year on his birthday, the 1st of December, for years now. Penning tunes about politics, friendship, love, nature, drugs, and just about everything else, Jay crafts intellectual but humorous tunes that most of us can relate to, to some extent.

With quick wit, candour, and the occasional touch of self-deprecation, Jay smashes the barrier between listener and musician, both at live performances and while you listen to his music on the train to work. Inviting you into another universe, you don’t find music like his often. Especially with his raw, stripped-down sound.

A lovely guy and an even better storyteller, we had a chat with Beans On Toast about his 2023 tour, performing in caves, new Beans On Toast music, Taylor Swift, his song writing process and more. 


For those who’ve never heard your music, how would you describe it? 

"It’s folk music, definitely folk music. Over the years, I’ve called it drunk folk, outlaw folk, foolhardy folk, because I guess folk is a sort of wide-ranging, sort of catch-all term. I think why it’s called folk music is [because it’s] someone singing about the world in which they live and that’s what I do, basically. I am, at my core, a folk musician, even though I like to throw a jazzy word in front of it every now and then."



Photo: Beans On Toast /


You release an album every year and play a lot of gigs, do you prefer writing or performing and why? 

"Ooh, I mean I love them both for very, very different reasons. I mean writing is something that I do by myself, and [it’s] a completely different headspace to playing a gig. I mean, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of writing a song when you know you’ve got a song you’re proud of and the kind of… the magic of creating something out of nothing. 

But then, at the same time, if I didn’t know there was an outlet where I could go and play these songs, I don’t know whether it’d be as easy to create that magic. So I guess that’s a long way of saying one doesn’t work without the other, so I enjoy writing because I get to perform and vice versa. It’s a nice circle of creativity."



You’re known to play gigs just about anywhere, where would you say is the weirdest or most unusual place you’ve performed? 

"Yes I have, I’ve played on, y’know, rooftops, caves, boats, cinemas, um, all sorts of various places and plenty of outdoor spots as well, whether that be like, kind of… illegal trespass or sort of, y’know, busking in the middle of a high street or something.

Certainly the most unnatural place for me is sometimes corporate venues, like the O2s of the world. Haha, maybe not the O2s and the Millennium Dome; I once played there and that was... I’m not gonna knock that day but… yeah, if there’s sort of loads of branding around and expensive drinks and it kind of feels like people are coming to a gig and being farmed, rather than coming together over a common interest, then I can find that unnatural. To me, it feels unusual. But at the same time, it doesn’t stop me doing it."



In (your song) The Great American Novel, you mention dancing to dubstep and punk rock. Can you name a few artists, albums, or genres you love that you think might come as a surprise to your listeners? 

"My one go-to at the moment is Bella White, a Canadian bluegrass artist, who is fantastic. But, I suppose me listening to bluegrass isn’t that big a surprise. I mean, I like quite a lot of pop stuff, I’m a big Taylor Swift fan, and I really like a girl from Brighton called Maisie Peters, who is definitely in the kind of pop realm. I guess people might find that as a surprise? 

But I feel like, these days, everybody’s a lot more open to listening to different genres of music. When I was growing up, it was very much, like, the music you listen to sort of defines you, and you refuse to step outside of your kind of grunge-rock circle that you’d built, but now I’d like to think that people are more open-minded. Probably my favourite band I saw over the summer play live is called K.O.G, which is kind of super party times, sort of afrobeat, very empowering, like, full power music - check it out!"



Who is your greatest inspiration and why? 

"Am I allowed to say what is my greatest inspiration? I’d probably say life itself, I come from the school of thought that you could write a song about anything and there’s never any shortage of inspiration. But I don’t go to one place for it, I can find inspiration in books, in other songs, in films, which I guess is art, but also in relationships and, y’know, meeting people, seeing, y’know, how someone crosses the road or just small bits like that. And in nature, as well, there’s so many things to write about in nature. So, yeah, I’d just say a combination of all of that. Life itself is my greatest inspiration."



Your collection of children's books with an album to accompany it came out today. It looks really cool! Is this a one-off, or do you hope to do some more creative projects outside of music? 

"This is still a musical project for me. I wrote the words and recorded the album, and then my friend Lily, she illustrated it, and we put it together and put it out. It’s expanding my horizons a little bit, certainly playing the gigs to children has been slightly outside of my comfort zone, which is a good place to be, creatively. I mean, I certainly don’t intend to become a children's entertainer. 

We’re doing these four shows and then my plan is to release some more standard Beans On Toast music early next year for the March tour and then go back to, y’know, singing songs about the collapse of civilisation or getting high and falling in love, stuff like that."



Your lyrics are often intelligent and feature some funny moments but feel natural as if they’ve been taken directly from your brain. Would you say writing lyrics comes naturally, like talking, or do you spend time crafting each line? 

"It’s really nice when a song just falls out of your lips, out of your brain, and most of it does come like that and then I’ll sort of… Whenever I’m walking anywhere, if I’m writing a song, I’m always murmuring the lyrics or running through them in my head, and you kind of fine-tune little bits. Sometimes I can kind of catch a whole song in almost, like, one foul swoop. 

There’s been times where I’ve made up song and I’ve got all the parts I need in the first time I’ve ever played it. And then you just go through it and just give a bit of care and attention, iron out the creases and sprinkle a bit of flavour and stuff like that, I guess. Again, a bit of both is the answer."



Photo: Beans On Toast /  


You’re going on tour early next year, what can fans expect from these gigs? Anything new? What’s the atmosphere like at your gigs? 

"Yeah, I can’t wait for this tour! For this tour, I’m actually sort of doing a solo show, so just me and my guitar, which… in that respect, there’s nothing new, haha, I mean, there’ll be a whole bunch of new songs… I’m just really looking forward to it, I wanna create a classic Beans On Toast tour is what I’m thinking for March. We’re talking at the moment about putting a… don’t know what you call it, but a sort of stage set? A bit of production! That’s what I’m looking for. A bit of production into a solo show, which is…we’re still coming together with ideas at the moment. 

But “what is the feeling like?” I’d like to think that a Beans On Toast gig is an extremely friendly environment and everybody’s there to listen to the music, make new friends and, if you so fancy, get pissed. I certainly will be doing that. A bit of laughing, a bit of thinking, a bit of drinking. There you go, there’s the tagline!"



Finally, do you have a message you’d like to share with your fans? 

"“No. But why not use Skiddle as your ticketing… purchasing… company? That’s worded badly, isn’t it? Let’s have another shot at that. Why not use Skiddle to purchase your next tickets for Beans On Toast or any other gig? Because I have always liked what you do at Skiddle. Thanks for your questions and see you out there! Bye!"




What a guy. If you fancy a bit of laughing, a bit of thinking, and a bit of drinking, you can catch Jay on his tour next year. He’s playing all over and you can get your tickets here on Skiddle. Click or tap here to see where you can catch this cult folk hero, or buy your tickets below for his shows in Aberdeen, Birmingham, and Sheffield.



Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.








Header image credit: Beans On Toast /


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