Interview: Brutus

“We definitely came out of this as better friends”

Despite what you might think, being in a band can be tough. Living in a small space for long periods of time can be testing, ultimately leading to conflict. Nevertheless, conflict can sometimes have a positive effect. For the members of Brutus, it led to the creation of their debut album – ‘Burst’.

The trio, consisting of vocalist/drummer Stefanie Mannaerts, guitarist Stijn Vanhoegaerden, bassist Peter Mulders, uncharacteristically don’t share the same musical influences. By having a difference of taste and opinion, being together in the studio proved to be difficult during the making of ‘Burst’.

“It’s not always easy to get a song finished when everybody has a different opinion,” states Mannaerts. “but above all, everybody wants what’s best for the song, so we all have to let some things pass. In the end, it’s very rewarding to get to the point where we’re all happy. We wouldn’t want it any other way.”

On record, Brutus’ sound is rooted in hardcore and punk (Vanhoegaerden and Mulders used to be part of a Refused tribute act), but if you delve a little deeper into what ‘Burst’ has to offer you will find elements of math rock, black metal, post-rock, and according to Mannaerts, “hip-hop basslines”. The end result is an astounding record that compels you from start to finish. Stefanie adds “The three of us listen to all these different bands and we like different genres. I guess we try to write songs that unintentionally can have all kinds of different vibes or influences.”

For the making of ‘Burst’, the group left their home of Leuven, Belgium and headed to Vancouver, in Canada for four weeks to work with producer Jesse Gander. “Being away from home and not having to deal with daily distractions was really important to us,” says Mannaerts. “I think the record came out the way we wanted it to be because of that.”

With all distractions removed, Brutus were allowed to put their complete focus on to making the record. While the combination of limited time and Gander’s swift work rate pushed the band, as Stefanie explains; “he works really fast so he pushed us into making decisions faster. Jesse gave us a different perspective on what we were trying to achieve. We skipped some songs some of us really wanted to put on the record. Everybody could let go a bit easier and see the bigger picture with him around.”

As for the band’s internal relationships, the close-knit time spent together in the studio and away from home was beneficial to the trio. “We definitely came out of this as better friends,” asserts Mannaerts. “When the record was finished, it really felt like the end of three years of hard work. All the stuff we encountered as a band in the last couple of years, good and bad, came to a climax during the recording process.”

Once the album was completed last Spring, the band began looking for a label to release the record. After speaking to several labels, they joined UK-based Hassle Records (Lonely The Brave, Cancer Bats, Alexisonfire and more). When we asked Stefanie what the band were looking for in the label, she said “when you record an album you’re really proud of and you have put a lot of sweat, blood and tears into it, you want to work with people who share your enthusiasm. This is what we found with Hassle and it doesn’t hurt that they are super nice people too.”

Fast forward to the present and ‘Burst’ has been released to plenty of praise. With the inevitable UK and European tour set to follow shortly, Brutus look to break out of their native Belgium. However, since their formation, the country has given them plenty of opportunities to refine their sound having played over 100 shows. From speaking to Mannaerts, we get the impression that the Belgium music scene is in a healthy state. “There are a lot of talented bands and a lot of cool clubs in Belgium at the moment. You can feel that everybody is really going for it,” she says. “There’s always a show somewhere, there’s so much stuff going on. We consider ourselves lucky to be able to play so much!”

As for their forthcoming live shows, the band will be hoping to transform the same intensity that pulsates through ‘Burst’. “We try to play as intense as possible every time we’re on stage,” explains Stefanie as we end our conversation. “It’s not always easy to interact with the audience sitting behind my drum kit and singing but Peter’s dance moves are awesome enough for the three of us.”

‘Burst’ by Brutus is out now on Hassle Records.

You can Brutus touring on the following dates:

22 Das Bach, Vienna (A)
24 Scheune, Dresden (D)
25 Kantine at Berghain, Berlin (D)
26 Hafenklang, Hamburg (D)
27 Beta, Copenhagen (DK)
29 Green Door, Brighton (UK)
30 Old Blue Last, London (UK)
31 The Fleece, Bristol (UK)
02 Ramsgate Music Hall, Ramsgate (UK)
13 Vooruit (Balzaal), Gent (B)
21 Reflektor, Liège (B)
22 Cafe Cafe, Hasselt (B)
06 Rockerill, Charleroi (B)
19 De Zwerver, Leffinge (B)

Brutus links: Website|Facebook|Twitter

Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)


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