The forthcoming election has got London singer songwriter Beans on Toast — aka Jay McAllister — seriously motivated. Having spent years refusing to vote through apathy engendered by a general feeling of disenfranchisement, he's now on the campaign trail himself — championing the cause for the Green Party in London.
After being inspired to understand more about the party from reading an article in the Telegraph which rubbished the group's policies, Jay is now leading a gig night at The Monarch in Camden to help raise awareness.
"Finally something started to make a bit of sense," he tells Londonist. "I bought myself a Green Party T-shirt and thought 'that'll do'."
But he really wanted to do more, so set about organising a gig to help raise awareness of the Green Party's cause. He approached the party's HQ and they snapped up the offer.
"Every band I contacted said that even if they couldn't do the gig, they were behind the Green Party, which was really interesting for me — if these bands are behind the party, maybe that's something people should know about," he says.
What's got him so motivated to work like this on behalf of a political party? "It just seems like the whole of politics is in a mess and we've been taken for a ride and we need to look somewhere completely different for answers. Anybody not putting climate change and renewable energy at the top of their priorities is an idiot — they've got no far sight at all and they must be lining their own pockets, because they're clearly not for the good of humankind."
Jay often gets heralded as 'the new Billy Bragg' — due to having more politicised lyrics than you'd normally expect to hear in a contemporary pop song — like this one about Prince Harry's media-friendly exploits in Afghanistan:
But the comparisons haven't been brought about through a conscious effort to be 'political' in his writing, he says. In fact, it's more the politics of the pub than anything else.
"I've never really put much thought into it — I just think 'I've got to write a song about something' and it just ends up being what's happening in my mind at that time. It's just my opinion on something, and it's probably wrong. I'm just trying to talk about the good times, I don't have a message. I just believe that politics is what happens in everyone's life — the kind of things you talk about after a few pints in the pub.
"Everyone knows where they stand on a topic, but people often think that 'politics' is boring. If only we could find a way to show people that politics is interesting, without masking it in the way they do that just makes it seem really dull. If you think about it, what politicians talk about is really interesting, sexy stuff, but it all is made to seem really uninteresting."
It's this day-to-day element of politics that people often forget, due to the reporting of Westminster happenings and the off-putting combative form of Prime Minister's Questions. But politics is about the blandification of areas that become 'gentrified', it's about the closing down of venues in Soho, the threat to shops under the arches in Brixton, those everyday issues which affect us in our neighbourhoods, as well as the big national and global matters.
But there's much to feel positive about, Jay says. "Soho feels like it's being drained of anything cultural. But I also believe there's still new venues opening, times are changing, cultures do move around — the kids will always find a way to party. People will not stop listening to live music and dancing in clubs."