The TV channnel Dave describes itself as the home of witty banter. I think that when I met up with the very joyful and funny Bean Baker between us we could have given the channel a run for it's money! This conversation was a great laugh and probably my favourite interview ever, it's certainly the one that has made me laugh again and again when writing it. I hope you enjoy hearing about Bean's non-rebellious past, his ownership of a beard and his new EP. I have tried to keep this true but you need to insert your own laughter because there was plenty!
It sounds like you should be a manufacturer of Baked Beans, I'm sure you've heard that a few times...do you get called Heinz?
"Strangely a lot, a lot of times that happens."
I guess the hair colour doesn't help either, have you ever thought of dying your hair?
"The thought had come across, but I thought 'do you know what, this is how I'm made' and I'm proud of that."
It does make you very identifiable here (at Creation Fest)
"There are so many orange things around!"
I have not seen many people with your hair colour around...
"Really I have bumped into 4 or 5..."
Maybe they just cling together...
I bumped into my wife earlier, after you had spoken to her and she had lost yourphone number. She said "well, he's meeting a friend." I said "I'll just look out the back somewhere" and she said "no, he said he was meeting a friend somewhere" and I looked around the cafe area and I saw you sitting there and I said, "is it him over there because he has ginger hair, hasn't he?" You were the only person with ginger hair in the cafe...
"I am kind of pleased that I have got the beard now"
That was the other identifiable mark, because if you had been ginger but without the beard I wouldn't have approached you and asked if you were you!
"I didn't used to have a beard but it's been many years of holding my nose and blowing and I've got now a beard I am mildly proud of."
I am not sure how all this works for an interview, but do you wear socks with sandals too, are you on a steady course for Church leadership?
Because that is the next thing that comes isn't it? It's the beard and then socks and sandals with your shorts in the summer...
Maybe a tattoo across the inside of my arm to show that I have got a past...
Or maybe LOVE HATE crossed out across your knuckles?
You do have the double piercing, so that is the rebellion covered...
That is literally the only rebellion on my body. It's not even rebellion, it was to symbolise lessons learnt, I can't even remember what the lessons were, but I learnt them so I don't need to learn them again!
So you are here at Creation Fest and you played The Tube how did it go?
It was really fun actually, really fun. I suppose when I approach a performance, I try and create a set that people are going to enjoy and I try and think, 'right, what are people going to most enjoy in this?' Some nights it's my own stuff and sometimes it's just a load of covers. My aim is for people to just have a nice time, I'm not, 'right I must get more Facebook followers or I must sell this many CDs', I just want people to enjoy themselves and have a really good time.
So do you do this full time?
Yeah. This is my main income. There is stuff that I do that is voluntary work and some other stuff that I do, I am a 'Live music coordinator' for a social enterprise in Gloucester. So I do a bit of that and that's a couple of hours a week, but a lot of my work is band prep, writing and recording songs and I lead worship as well.
So although you're not after those things you mentioned the sales of CDs do help?
Ironically I don't have a CD out at the moment.
So I can't ask you about that then can I?
Well you can ask me about it, because it is almost done. It's on it's way and the idea is that we are going to release it in the next month and a bit and we are just needing to get it made.
So you are not doing anything else all day, so how comes it's not made already?
That's a very good question! It's because I'm here!
I thought you would have brought it with you...
That would have been ideal, but no the songs are all pretty much recorded, I've just got to record one BV (Backing Vocal) on one of the tracks and then the songs will be done and we've just got to get them on the CD. I am just waiting for the design to come through. It's called "The Pride and the Promise", it's a mixture of some real passionate songs, songs about my journey in the faith, but actually some songs are just utter nonsense. So one of the songs is called "Troll and Ogre Hunter" which is all about encouraging people to go back to dreaming the impossible and aiming for big things. You don't want people to get stuck in the mundane, but keep aiming for the bigger and better stuff. Aim for the impossible because with God everything is possible.
I've got another song where I get really het up on what drink to have in the morning with my breakfast...
OK, should you have been playing the kids tent?
Do you know some people say that, but no.
Are you going to release a sequel called "What breakfast cereal shall I have?"
It's actually called AppleJuice and it's actually when I was at college at the time and the tutor set me a challenge about writing a song about something that was in the room, so he said "write it about this bottle of apple juice" so I did and I actually really liked the song, so I thought "I'm going to put it on there." I think part of it is what I try and bring to a performance or if I am doing a worship service, is to bring a sense of joy, and sometimes we can be too het up on 'this is how we do things, we must be serious', but I believe that God is a God of fun and a God of Joy as well as to be taken serious as well. So that's what the EP is, it's a combination of God is good and we want to follow Him and He should be respected because He is powerful, but at the same time we can have a laugh with him.
People have often pointed out that God must have a sense of humour because he made the giraffe and the duck-billed platypus, one with a long neck and one with no neck.
I love it!
So when you go around do you cross genre or do you have one natural place where you fit?
I always used to think that I was a rock singer, I was in a rock band... and as I have grown older I think I have got less affected by the stigma of singing pop and realising that actually I really like pop music. I write in a pop style, I like writing catchy melodies, I like writing lyrics that can be understood and you don't need to have a thesaurus and a dictionary.
And you can actually hear what you are singing...In certain types of rock music you really have to read the lyrics at the same time if you are actually going to get something out of it other than, that's a nice tune.
Although to be fair I do go quite fast some times. A couple of years ago we did a festival and they had a sign language person, are they called sign language people? They had to sign one of my songs and I had never realised how fast I say things, or sing things in that song. So they had the lady on stage and they had 3 people sat in front of her who were trying to catch different sections of the verse, which is good because they managed to translate it all into sign language, but I didn't realise how much it was.
Perhaps next time you should just have the words on the projector, save them...
They didn't do it after that, they gave up.
When are you projecting that this next EP will be ready to download from iTunes?
To be fair I could probably put it on iTunes fairly soon, but I would like to have hard copies as well. I would love to have had it before the summer, but there were some things that weren't write with it and I wanted to get them right first.
So what is this rebellious past that you don't have, what is your background and how you came to faith?
Good question. I think sometimes you change your answer depending on the situation. When someone asks you about your testimony and people assume it must be about when you first accepted Jesus in your life. I think mine is a boring one when it comes to that. I went to church, I had a fantastic first experience of church, but once I started going to church and became a Christian, the first day my now best friend just came back from hospital having has a relapse of cancer leukemia. When they went to investigate they just found dead cells that the cancer had left but no cancer there. This was shared on my first Sunday at the church and his first Sunday back...
So you weren't from a Christian family or anything like that.
No, not at all, my Aunt and Uncle went to a church. My Aunt was having her daughter dedicated there so I went along there, that was quite cool. Then when I went to the youth group because my friend David had come back from the hospital, they had teams in the youth group and when he came back the team got a whole bunch of points, it also happened to be a same week that they had a shop we could spend the points in, so my first week at church was family, healing miracles, mixed with meeting new friends and toys. It was just the most fantastic first experience of church, so needless to say I stayed, I kept going. Then eventually I went to a festival and actually gave some proper thought to this whole 'christian' lark and do I just go to church on a Sunday or am I actually a Christian?
So what age was this, because we were talking about toys...
So when I first went I was...I am really bad at estimating ages... I was young, I would say I was 8 and maybe a little bit younger than that. I came out of that and around about 12 or maybe 13 and that's when I asked the question about what do I believe, OK this is what I now think. As far as a testimony goes it's not really that wowwee!
I think that sometimes, you read those amazing testimonies like "Run, Baby Run" and you think wow, but you speak to some of these people with really huge testimonies and they say "wow, I wish I had what you had!"
I would say that things are a lot more exciting after you have made that decision, I think that's when life gets more exciting. I suppose with most of those testimonies it's not often mentioned. It's all about I was so awful and then I met Jesus and everything went fine. With me everything was 'meh' and then I met Jesus and a lot more exciting things happened since becoming a Christian.