Now ten albums and ten years into a career that has seen him firmly established as one of the most unique voices in UK music, Beans on Toast – aka Jay McAllister – readily admits that new record ‘Bird In The Hand’ marks a momentous moment in his life – namely the birth of his first child.
Sat enjoying a beer shortly before heading onstage at Rough Trade East in Shoreditch for the latest of his week-long run of in-store shows, Beans opened up one everything from the new joy in his life to just how his new album came to be produced in one of the world’s finest studios.
The Essex-born musician insists that, despite having a daughter at home, he sees no reason why his prolific touring schedule won’t continue as before.
Beans said: “It is what I do. We thought about it before we had her. I have been away a few times already.
“Ultimately I’m sort of tempted to say I spend more time with her than if I worked 9-5. Now when I’m not on tour I’ve made a point of not doing anything.
“When I was not touring before I would dabble around in a bit of promoting and the like. Now when I’m not touring I’ll make a point of being at home for her.
“When I’m there that is not coming home late from work, I’m there all the time. When she was born I had three months off and there are not many jobs you can do that in.
“It’s definitely different and it’s a more brutal way of parents. Luckily we have family on both sides who will support my wife. It’s not like I’m saying see you later and I’m off. It is my job and it is the life me and my wife both live.
“Although it would be ideal if she was in my band before long!”
Determined to make his tenth record memorable, Beans recruited Mumford and Sons’ Ben Lovett, who produced his debut solo aldum a decade ago.
At the time, Lovett happened to be in Crouch End’s world-famous Church Studios recording Mumford’s upcoming record.
And so it was that ‘A Bird In The Hand’ also came to be produced in the same setting used by Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello and even David Gray.
More remarkably, the record also features cameos from Mumford band members, who stayed behind in evenings and off days to help pull the record together.
Beans said: “It was incredible. The recording experience, it might have been the biggest blag I’ve ever pulled. Ben sorted it all. I thought about how to make number 10 special and asked Ben if he wanted to do it.
“Probably the busiest man in the world and he was like, we will fit it in. And we did. Out of the blue he said, we are going to do it in Church Studios.’
“Everything was mic’d up, Marcus’ guitars, Ted’s 150-year-old double bass. And it was like, we just went for it. He really steered the ship, I’d play a song and he got everything organised.”
Beans himself has noticed the change in his crowds over the years. Having achieved his biggest success with festival anthem MDMAmazing – released in 2009 – times have changed for Beans who gave up drugs several years ago. And now he is a father, the change is even starker.
He said: “I talk to more people after shows about kids than drugs now. We can talk about drugs if you want but I’m not that bothered about them anymore
“I have evolved maybe. It is just part of life. The parents I speak to about parenting now were probably into those songs too a little while back!
“I have had some beautiful chats about parenthood and raising children. There are so many people who come to my shows and show me their little ones.
“For me that’s the dream, parents and kids hanging out and coming to my gigs. 15-year-olds and 65-year-olds listening to my music together is just brilliant.”