Every year you discover a band that make a profound impact upon yourselves, that are inspiring yet fun. That band is Brutus, the Belgium three piece have released an incredible album called Burst which defies genre, it has everything in it including black metal, pop rock, post-rock, math-rock, hardcore and prog rock. Answering as a collective, we talked about the band’s origin, Belgium Refused, Burst, touring and life after Burst.
Jack: Hey guys, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. How are you?
Brutus: We’re doing just fine, thanks for asking!
Jack: How did you all meet?
Brutus: Stefanie used to be in a punk band with Stijn when they were in their late teens so they go way back. Stefanie and Peter met playing in a Refused tribute-band. When Refused started playing again they pulled the plug out of that project and we started something new together called Brutus.
Jack: What’s the music scene like in Leuven?
Brutus: It’s small, but there are a lot of cool bands in different genres.
Jack: Bands from Belgium including Evil Invaders, Oathbreaker and Steak Number Eight are starting to get more recognition internationally, why do you think the Belgium scene is finally being recognised?
Brutus: There are a lot of talented bands in Belgium at the moment, and I think it has a lot to do with a good work ethic. You can feel that these guys are really going for it. There are a lot of places to play in Belgium, but these guys really make an effort to tour outside of the country. Talent is nice but vision and hard work are equally important.
Jack: Early on in your career you played Refused’s The Shape of Punk To Come in full, what inspired you to do this?
Brutus: Peter started this project because it’s just a really important record. It’s still relevant after almost 20 years. It was some kind of “in between bands” project, with a lot of friends… But they could not find a drummer to nail the album. And then he found Stefanie and she did it.
Jack: How important are Refused to your band?
Brutus: Brutus and Refused are not really connected. We never talk or think about Refused songs when we play or make music. It’s just the way Peter and Stefanie met really. But, that being said, Refused is pretty important for hardcore and punk music for sure! They’re pretty legendary. Even now, just go to a show, so many years later, and check out the energy coming from them. That’s what music is all about.
Jack: Brutus as a band have an awe-inspiring mix of genres at play, such as post-rock, math-rock, black metal and hardcore punk. How do you mix all these genres?
Brutus: It’s not something we think about. The three of us just bring our own thing to the music. It’s really nice to be in a band with open minded people. It’s nice to be able to try almost everything in the rehearsal-space before ending up with songs that come from totally different places.
Jack: What makes the three of you work so well together?
Brutus: Don’t get me wrong. At the end of the day we’re the best of friends, but it’s not that easy to get to a finished song. We all have our say and sometimes we take a long time to get to the point where we’re all happy. We’re friends first and we always get to that happy place, so I guess friendship and respect is the reason we work well together.
Jack: Your excellent new album Burst is out on the 24th February via Hassle Records, what are you most proud of about the album?
Brutus: The thing that I’m most proud of is the fact that I can actually feel the physical copy in my hands. This record isn’t just a bunch of songs to us. It’s the start of our band and it captures the first three years – from our first show up to the album recordings. We started playing for fun without any expectations and now there’s a full record. It might sound cliché, but the journey’s the most important thing for us. Always keep going forward.
Jack: What was working with Jesse Gander like?
Brutus: Jesse is ace! We had an excellent time! First of all Jesse is a really great guy to work with and he works really fast so he pushed us into making decisions faster. On the other hand, we spent one month in Vancouver where he lives and works so we had a lot of time to really focus. Being away from home and not having to deal with daily distractions was really important to us.
Jack: Stefanie said that “The time in Canada, living together and working in the studio, was refreshing, inspiring, healing and confronting at the same time – some rehearsals ended with a fight after 10 minutes, and some songs took 10 weeks to finish.” Did recording in Vancouver change the album at all?
Brutus: I don’t know if it really changed the album in a big way but it was really nice to have Jesse’s input. It 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, but I think we still ended up with the record we wanted to make. Everybody could let go a bit easier and see the bigger picture.
Jack: Is there a theme to the album?
Brutus: There isn’t really a theme to the record, at least we didn’t write the songs around a theme. All the songs stand on their own. Stefanie sometimes let’s certain themes return through her lyrics and vocals, but again not intentionally. The only theme we felt when the record was finished was that all the songs had a certain urge to them. We called the record Burst cause that’s how the songs feel to us.
Jack: Do you have day jobs outside of the band?
Brutus: Yes we do! Stijn and Stefanie both work in a music school, and Peter is an art-director / graphic designer.
Jack: You’re going to be touring the UK in March and April. Are you mainly playing new material?
Brutus: We’ll mostly be playing new material but we’ll also put in some older songs. It’s nice to mix up the set list from show to show, keeping things interesting.
Jack: Has Britain leaving the EU changed your reaction to touring there?
Brutus: No, not at all. As far as going in and out of countries, we don’t see many problems. Of course it’s hard to predict the future, but we’ll see. Let’s all keep it calm, it will be just fine.
Jack: Finally what are your plans for after the UK Tour?
Brutus: Hopefully there are more tours and shows coming up. With the record being out we just want to play live as much as possible and maybe start writing our next record.