by Daniel Rourke
It’s almost December and for most people that means the countdown to Christmas is well and truly on. However the lead up to December has a completely different meaning for Beans on Toast, as it’s the countdown to his yearly album release. Fresh off the plane from his North America tour with Skinny Lister and punk-folk hero Frank Turner, we caught up with Beans to discuss everything from tour life to his new record Rolling Up The Hill.
T’HUD: First up, you’ve just got back off your tour of America, how did that go?
Beans On Toast: Yeah, it was great! I’m definitely feeling the jetlag now, I’ve been falling asleep in random places! It was quite a long stretch, it was epic. It was a seven week tour opening for Frank Turner, I was travelling with the other support band, a band called Skinny Lister. There’s nothing like seven weeks in a van to get to know people, so they’re like a new family now. I’ve been to the States a few times, but this was the longest and there was a lot of uncharted territories; I’ve never been up to Seattle or Portland and those areas. It was nice to get to new places, and yeah, it was epic really… like a dream come true.
T’HUD: As you mentioned, you were on tour with Skinny Lister and Frank Turner – they’re two highly thought of live bands, what was that experience like, did you pick up anything from them?
BOT: Oh I don’t know. I’d like to think I’ve learnt something new, but whether the lessons that you learn are obvious titbits or not I don’t know. I’d like to think that I did, but I think the lessons that you learn on tours like that are deep down lessons that kind of show your character rather than titbits of information. They are phenomenal live bands… watch this space for some epic collaborations between me and the Skinny Lister guys, we’ve got a few tunes coming out. It was all quite close connections, I’ve toured with Frank many times, and Skinny are on the same label as us here in the UK so our paths have crossed several times. Seven weeks in a van just cemented that friendship.
T’HUD: Away from the tour, you’ve got a new record coming out in December, would you mind telling us a little about that?
BOT: So this is album number seven, in seven years. I recorded it over in Kansas, with this band called Truckstop Honeymoon, who I met at a festival last summer; they’re a husband and wife country duo, they tour with their four kids and live on the road, they’re like New Orleans street performers, a double-bass, banjo type thing. I just love them. I did the whole promotional thing, like “Hey, check out this band” and all that, and it turns out they saw my set and they asked me over to record with them. It was really cute actually, they asked if I wanted to send over some records of mine in the post, and they sent some of theirs back, I didn’t think anyone did that anymore. In March I was over in the States, I did a few shows in New Orleans and they told me they had a studio and asked if I wanted to come and make the record. Because I do one album a year I’ve always got my feelers out for a new studio or a new person to record it with, so as soon as they offered it I was like “Let’s do it!”
Me and Bobby (Banjo), who I tour with, went out to Kansas and stayed in Truckstop’s big house for a week. It was a really special week living in their crazy house and literally going out to record in their barn. It’s got double-bass, finger-picking and loads of other musicians from all around Kansas on it as well. It’s kind of a different fresh sound, I mean it’s still a Beans on Toast record but it’s got a bit of beef to it. What’s happening now is Truckstop are coming over for the tour, they’ll open up the show and then they’ll also be like the backing band for a four piece, all singing, all dancing Beans on Toast gig.
T’HUD: You mentioned the upcoming tour there – it’s probably one of the biggest tours you’ve done to date, it’s a bit mental really, isn’t it?
BOT: Yeah it is! I mean we’ve got it on a bit of a loop now, I’d say some of it is on par with the tour I did last year. It’s an amazing thing to be able to do, and it’s what helps me put out the records every year; it helps things to keep ticking over and to keep things fun.
T’HUD: With the tour last year you had a different local support opening each show, is there anything like that in the works for this one?
BOT: Not this time. With Truckstop coming so far, and with the instrumentation, they’re basically doing a forty-five minute set. With having a local support – and coming from someone who has been the local support many times – it would have had to be people going on five or ten minutes after doors, and I didn’t want to put anyone through that. Plus for me we’re going to have to do sound check and all these things other bands have to do, and for me that’s quite a lot to get my head around. At least with the Truckstop thing we can kind of sound check all the instruments and then leave it be. We did look at it, and I did have people in mind, but for the flow of the evening it felt better to let Truckstop play. Everyone’s going to love Truckstop, they’re a brilliant band and I can’t wait to see it.
T’HUD: As well as the music, you also have your own radio show. Tell us a little about that…
BOT: I’m gutted, I’ve been so busy this year that I haven’t had much of a chance to do it. It’s at Soho Radio, it’s like a coffee shop with a radio studio in the back on Great Windmill Street in Soho, there’s loads of interesting people there, and loads of great friends. When they started off someone asked if I fancied it, and at the time I wasn’t touring so I managed to do a monthly show and managed to slot it in. I really enjoyed it actually, and I really miss not being able to do it at the moment. When I was doing the show I was a bit more of an interesting person myself, I cared more, like if I heard a song I wouldn’t be “Oh that’s nice” and move on, I’d buy the album and read up about it so it’d work on the show. I definitely want to do more of the show, but as it stands I don’t have the time.
T’HUD: Finally, we noticed you’re running a little competition through your Twitter account…
BOT: Yeah, I did a photoshoot a while back and my friend who does some photos for us kind of caught this amazing flying kick and it’s kind of out of character for me. The photo looked so legit though that we didn’t know what to do with it. To be honest I’m not really a big fan of that hashtag and online chains kind of thing, but we were kind of chatting it through and I agreed we had to do something with the photo. Eventually we put it up to tell people to run with it, and there’s been some interesting edits. My personal favourites are the non-violent ones. There’s one that looks like I’m doing a kick-flip on a skateboard, and at the moment that one looks like it’s going to be the winner. But yeah, I’m ready to move on and start putting out videos and songs rather than interactive online photo competitions, so that may be a one off!
Beans on Toast’s new record Rolling up the Hill is released 1st December through Xtra-Mile Recordings. You can catch Beans on Toast on tour throughout November and the beginning of December.