Another new track arrives today
James Ayles
14:48 1st June 2020

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“After my last album I didn’t want to write a record abut the end of the world,” admits Beans On Toast wryly. Now, thanks to nine weeks and counting of enforced lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Essex-born singer-songwriter is facing that very scenario.

With two singles – ‘Strange Days’ and ‘Human Contact’ – already released, each accompanied by a live-streamed gig, a full album and follow up to 2019’s Inevitable Train Wreck is already on its way. And today, the musician is releasing another new song, ‘Chessington World Of Adventures’. 

With Beans, aka Jay McAllister, turning 40 this year, the original plan for this year’s album, always planned to coincide with his birthday on 1 December, had been a trip down memory lane. Naturally, that changed quickly. “I had eight or nine songs written about my childhood and thought it would be a good time for a musical stroll down memory lane really, that was the plan,” he explains.

“Since all this has happened, I’ve not really been able to tune into that whimsical, nostalgia mindset to write those songs. But as the world slipped more and more into tragedy, I started writing songs about it which I’ve always done and that didn’t surprise me at all. I have been writing thick and fast about this every day so at the end of the year there will probably be two albums. I’m a bit superstitious and that deals with getting album number 13 out of the way easily too.”

For a man who has become such a prolific touring musician, often racking up hundreds of performances each year, adapting to the new normal has taken a little bit of time. He adds: “My guard went up about live streams initially, all gigs got cancelled and people started playing gigs on Facebook. I was like ‘Fuck that’ – I’ve spent a long time trying not to be the guy playing guitar from his bedroom. The last thing I want to do is broadcast me playing songs from my bedroom.” Still, even for an artist 11 albums into his solo career, there is room to surprise himself.

Having watched many of his favourite artists take to live streams, and with new tracks of his own to air, it became the natural next step. “Once I got my head around it and how we can set the camera up, it got really exciting. It also became a date in the empty diary of our household and something for us to look forward to. I really enjoyed it, I felt as I was playing it felt like a gig, I knew that people were there so I just tuned into it. The weirdest thing was when I finished, I did the show, turned the camera off and just tided my living room. It was the polar opposite of what I’d usually do after a gig.”

The ongoing uncertainty means Jay isn’t quite sure when his next live gig will be, but with his European tour in May now rescheduled for 2021, he’s determined to look at the positives. “The process of creating and releasing is something I find essential in troubled times. I’ve tried not to look at my diary and think ‘Oh I would have been in Berlin today or how things could have been’. I’m taking it in the scenario that I’m safe, healthy, my family are well and a lot of people have it a lot worse off.”

As an artist who has made his name touring relentlessly in smaller, independent venues across the UK, Jay is keenly aware of the catastrophic damage the current climate could cause for the industry. “Within a week of venues closing their doors they were looking at permanent closure. The amount of money they’ve been able to raise is incredible, proves how important they are. Their future needs to be safer and more appreciated overall, and the same with festivals, it has proved there is no safety net.”

Still, he believes that this could lead to permanent, positive change. “When the world does start turning again there will be a fight to save culture, across venues, artists, promoters and everybody else. It will be a time for fresh ideas and thinking outside the box. Whatever format it takes I will be there.”

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Photo: Pit Lad