BRUTUS Interview: “The sushi emojis did it!”

Photo by Eva Vlonk.

Debut album Burst is out February 24th via Hassle Records.

‘Burst’ is a perfect name for the debut album from expansive Belgian math rock/hardcore punk trio BRUTUS. Incorporating progressively technical but ferocious riffs with frenetic blast beats and impassioned vocals, they’re a band with a truly unique and bludgeoning sound that is literally exploding with ideas. On top of this, elements of soaring post rock are liberally applied to imbue the music with a grandeur that is delightfully unusual.

We had a chat with the band about their diverse sound, how it is emotionally brutal to play their impassioned music live, and what it was like to live and record in Canada.

Overblown: Steffanie has said that being in BRUTUS is not easy and that your tastes are often in conflict. While it must be difficult, do you think that this diversity is your greatest strength? Honestly, I’ve never heard music quite like yours.

BRUTUS: Haha, thank you! That’s a great compliment, we are honoured. Yes, it’s difficult to be Brutus sometimes. So this diversity is great to have in one band… But it would not work if we were not really good friends. When writing music everybody has their preferences and choices.

O: You recorded your debut LP Burst with Jesse Gander (Japandroids, White Lung) in Vancouver. What attracted you to him as a producer?

B: Honestly? His first reply when we contacted him! When we were making plans for our album, we emailed Jesse and his first reply was something like: “Hey guys, your band sounds great, let’s do this. I’m going for sushi now, let’s talk later!” and a whole list of sushi emoji’s. And the sushi emoji’s did it!

O: How did living and recording in Canada go?

B: It was great. We went for 4 weeks, with some days to adapt, 15 days of recording and a week of holiday after the recordings. Jesse has a supercool studio and the recording went super smooth. He picked us up every morning to get breakfast and to drive to the studio. We stayed in an apartment above a cool pub where band members of Japandroids and Black Mountain were regulars. We checked some vintage music stores in Vancouver and met the drummer of Baptists … Stijn even bought a vintage Gibson Les Paul in Vancouver! Damn, it was a great time!

O: One of the tracks on the album is called ‘Justice de Julia II’. Who is Julia? Is that a real person?

B: Justice de Julia II is actually the oldest song on the album. It’s a survivor, one of the first songs we ever wrote. Julia is not a real person, but she is ‘somebody’ for sure. We also have an older song, not on the album, that is called ‘Bye Julia’. Stefanie loves to write in the third person, projecting all kinds of things onto people, ‘she’s’ and names. And Julia is one of those people.

O: Your music is quite confrontational and brutally emotional. How do you survive live shows? Is it difficult to expose your emotions every night?

B: Yes, live shows are heavy for us. To bring a good show, we have to dig deep. It’s not easy, but then at the same time it also brings a lot of energy to the band and us personally too. And at the end, the positive energy you get from a live show matches up to the energy you have to put in to bring up the deepest emotions.

O: You have some gigs on the horizon in the UK. Is this your first time playing there?

B: It’s the first time we’ll be playing more than one show. And also the first time playing outside of London! We came over to the UK with Raketkanon once and played two shows with our buddies from Hassle Records last year. But we are lookin’ forward to more!

O: Back to your album. Midway through the album ‘Bird’ offers a bit of a respite from the relentlessness of the rest of the album. What inspired that song?

‘Bird’ is a little bit of an atypical song for Brutus. Bird started from words, not from music. And maybe that’s why it feels different, we don’t know for sure. So it was the lyrics that inspired the song!

O: Will you come and play in Ireland soon please?

B: Let’s hope so! That would be awesome! Please contact us if you see an option, and we’re on our way! 🙂

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