Interview: Brutus on taking the next step and embracing melody with energy

Rob Duguay
Nov 11 · 4 min read
From left to right: Stijn Vanhoegaerden (guitar), Peter Mulders (bass), Stefanie Mannaerts (drums & vocals)

Brutus are the kind of power trio that raises their emphasis and volume to incredible levels. They call the historic city of Leuven, Belgium home and they’ve already become a force in Europe over the latter half of the decade. With the release of their second full-length, Nest, via Sargent House Records on March 29, it seems like it’s only a matter of time until they make their mark across the Atlantic. Their intense sound melds the most amplified styles into one. It’s a fantastic experience for the senses and the likelihood of listening to them more than once is very high.

Recently I had a talk with bassist Peter Mulders and drummer & vocalist Stefanie Mannaerts about the making of their latest album, doing two things at once, touring the United States and writing new material.

Rob Duguay: Nest has been getting a ton of attention this year. What was the vision the three of you had going into the studio and did it change as each track got recorded?

Peter Mulders: Our vision was kind of simple, we wanted to record a better album than our first album. We felt a need to take the next step as a band in discovery of both our identity and sound. That did not change while we were recording, but maybe a little bit when we were writing. When we started writing the songs, our first album, Burst, was just out. Then there was a lot of touring with our debut and this album is definitely about handling that period. We also think it’s an honest and pure album, it’s really about what was happening to us in that time frame of writing.

The three of you have a sound that mixes the tone of black metal, the structure of progressive rock and the energy of hardcore punk into something extraordinary. What are some influences you bonded over when you started writing music together?

PM: To be honest, I don’t think we really bonded (laughs). Especially with our first album, when we started writing it was more like a mix of all kinds of things each of us like. I think we all like melody and energy, so those are our most important influences. We have to feel it and we have to hear it, if you know what I mean. Don’t ask me what it is, it’s just something we connect about. If all that is in a song, we can move on to the next one.

Stefanie, singing while playing drums can be a difficult thing to pull off. How long did it take for you to get comfortable doing it and are there any specific preparations you do before a show to get yourself in that zone?

Stefanie Mannaerts: I’m still getting used to it and there is already a big difference for me between music that’s in Burst and and the music that’s in Nest. With Burst, there are almost no quiet vocal parts and every vocal line on the first record is at least doubled. It is a slow process but step by step I’ll get there. As it comes to the live shows, I warm up very well. I straight up don’t ever want to ever lose my voice again, it happened a lot in the first two years of Brutus. I just did what I knew but hadn’t any technical knowledge.

What are some of the major differences you find between performing in the United States versus performing in Europe?

PM: We have only played a few shows in the United States so far but we can say the welcome is overwhelming. People have beem super nice and we do feel a lot of energy coming back to the stage, it’s so cool. On stage we do create our own little world so between the three of us it almost feels the same, we always try to play our best show ever. In Europe we are spoiled a little bit, we always have our own stuff with us like amps and a drum kit. In the States we play with rented gear. To be honest, so far it has worked out perfectly because our crew has done a terrific job.

It’s crazy to think, but 2019 is about to end. What are some plans that the band has for next year?

PM: Playing shows and starting to write new songs (laughs). We’ve had a really busy 2019 so far, so we will start next year with some time off with our family while doing some writing at home. We’re also planning on jumping on a few festivals.

Brutus 2019 Fall/Winter Tour Dates:

11/12 @ ONCE Ballroom Somerville, MA

11/13 @ Saint Vitus Brooklyn, NY

11/15 @ MilkBoy Philadelphia, PA

11/17 @ Corona Capital Mexico City, MX

11/24 @ Festsaal Kreuzberg Berlin, DE

11/25 @ Bürgerhaus Stollwerck Köln, DE

11/26 @ Melkweg Amsterdam, NL

11/28 @ Stylus Leeds, UK

11/29 @ Electric Ballroom London, UK

11/30 @ Le Trianon Paris, FR

12/1 @ Konzertfabrik Z7 & Mini Z7 Pratteln, CH

12/3 @ Alcatraz Milan, IT

12/4 @ Center Urbane Kulture Ljubljana, SI

12/5 @ Backstage Concerts GMBH Munich, DE

12/6 @ Arena Wien, AT

12/7 @ Palac Akropolis Prague, CZ

12/8 @ Progresja Warsaw, PL

12/14 @ AB Brussels Brussels, BE

Rob Duguay
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