Louder with Brutus @ 2000 Trees Festival 2019
‘Trouble comes in threes. So does Brutus’. As coarse and direct a mission statement as ever there was- and one that Belgian atmospheric metal trio Brutus are determined to stick by, both on their rapturous new album ‘Nest’, and in their entrancing live performances. We caught up with drummer and vocalist Stefanie, and guitarist Stijn, at this year’s 2000 Trees Festival to discuss their escapades on the road, building a sonic landscape from just three instruments, and the blurring of genre boundaries:
You recently released your new album, ‘Nest’, back in March – how have you found people’s reaction to the record so far?
Stijn: Crazy! You never expect to record an album and for people to like it when it comes out, so we were really pleasantly surprised when we dropped the first single and people were really into it!
Lots of your music on ‘Nest’, and on ‘Burst’, is very grand and atmospheric- was that something you were conscious of trying to create, or was that borne naturally as the recording process progressed?
Stefanie: It was pretty natural I think
Stijn: Obviously you think about writing songs and what you want them to be, but sound-wise we never consciously tried to create a specific sound, it just came quite naturally.
Stefanie: Also, with only having one guitarist it has to sound huge
Stijn: There’s a lot of space to fill, so we have to make it sound massive
That was something I wanted to expand on actually - does working as a trio, with the three principle ingredients of guitars, drums and bass to play around with, inhibit you in any way, or does it push you to think more outside the lines?
Stijn: I think it definitely makes us push more to fill the space we have to fill- I’m not saying it’s necessarily easier to make music with more people, but [in larger bands] you have the opportunity to add more layers, whereas with us we have to write in a way that makes us sound bigger than we are. It is a challenge, but it’s also nice to be able to let it sound that bit more open too.
Metal in general, in a variety of forms, is a prevalent genre in many Eastern European countries, yet the wider movement to take metal beyond its traditional borders is also being championed in other areas by bands such as Holding Absence and Lotus Eater- do you give much thought to the heritage behind your music?
Stefanie: Genre isn’t really factor for us- we care a lot about the songs, but we don’t sit down and go ‘let’s add a hardcore bit’ here, or ‘let’s add a punk bit’, it’s more about what each individual piece needs- it might be that it needs some guitar picking, which is used a lot in post-rock, but it’s not that we want to make it post-rock, that’s not how we think about it.
Stijn: We’ve played in other bands before, and we have so many different influences, that it’s interesting when we discuss songs that we are listening to, it’s not about genre, it’s about how they make us feel. And so of course there are different genres, but each band approaches them in a different way- I don’t see many bands who just take one genre and go ‘Right, that’s what we’re going to do’. And also, as you get older and you start to play together more, your tastes change as well, and the cool thing for me about being in this band is that, in 10 years I can see us doing a record that is completely different, but still right for us.
Much metal music is often perceived as being inspired by anger- does that hold true for you? What’s the driving force behind your music?
Stefanie: I think it’s more to do with extreme feelings- extreme happiness, extreme loneliness, or extreme melancholy, because when you feel extreme emotions, like when you’re really happy, you are able to be specific with your words about how you’re feelings, and the same when you feel like shit, it’s very specific- you can say that ‘it feels like a hole in my chest’, which is a very powerful thing and so it’s very easy to write it down and play it because it’s very much there. Everything in-between, I think, is harder to write about, because it’s just ‘I’m okay’- how do you explain okay?
You’ve been playing a selection of festivals already this summer, including Download Madrid and Jera on Air- are you festival people? What’s your favourite festival memory?
Stefanie: I like festivals! I like Dour Festival a lot-
Stijn: It is a really nice festival- I always thought that I liked playing in small clubs, that was always my thing is that I like playing small shows, but this is the first year that we’ve been doing more festivals and bigger festivals- we just did Hellfest in France a couple of weeks ago, and that one for me changed everything. We played a half-hour set in the middle of the day, and there were thousands of people! So after that, I’m much more excited by doing bigger shows!
Is there anything you miss while out on the road? What do you enjoy the most about touring?
Stefanie: My favourite thing is that, every night that you play your set, it’s getting better- as the weeks go by on the tour, it’s not necessarily getting easier, but it becomes more natural, and you’re not just focused on making it to the end, you’re able to focus on each song in the set, look at how people are reacting to it and so on. I also like the little things, like the little funny moments, or finding a lake that you can swim in, or the food being very nice- it’s like a little family trip sometimes!
Stijn: When you grow up and you’re learning to play your first instrument and starting your first band, you always dream of being able to see the world while touring with your band, and now we’re able to do that. Sometimes, you’ll be in a city, like when we were in Prague recently, and you’ll be stood on one of the bridges with your friends, and you’ll be thinking ‘we’re here because we play songs that we like’, which is fucked up! There’s this feeling you have as a group that you’re able to see the world and meet these people because you write music and you play music, which is a really strange thing
Stefanie: When you think about it, it is really weird!
Stijn: It’s brilliant- we’re going to the US at the end of the year, and the fact that we’ll get to see parts of the US because we play music is mind-blowing to me!
What is perhaps even more mind-blowing is the wonderfully exciting precedent this band are setting, both for themselves as well as for metal music as a whole, and beyond. As Brutus continue to bring their hauntingly palpable musical panoramas to audiences across the globe, it is clear that the ‘trouble’ is really only just beginning.
'Nest' is out now via Hassle Records.
Check out the video for the band's single 'Cemetery' below:
Brutus still have a hefty year of touring left, including a US run at the end of the year, and a series of European dates scheduled for this autumn- those dates can be found below, and the US dates, as well as the link for tickets, can be found here: