Interview with Peter Mulders and Stefanie Mannaerts of Brutus | By Lord Randall
Belgian trio, Brutus, had accomplished many admirable feats even before their debut album, Burst, was released in May via U.S. label, Sargent House, and Hassle Records in Europe. Now to pick the brains of these black metal-influenced indie newcomers anxious to leave their mark… Bassist Peter Mulders and drummer and vocalist Stefanie Mannaerts reveal the secrets of Burst.
Most bands wouldn’t think of traveling to a different continent to record their first album, but you recorded Burst in Vancouver, British Columbia.
PM: We went to another continent to make our material better! It was important to feel the trust of somebody who worked with some cool bands, but [had] never heard of us before. [Producer] Jesse [Gander—who has worked with Japandroids and White Lung]—just checked some raw demos and still wanted us to come over.
With so many sub-subgenres of every kind of music these days, do you feel it’s harder for bands to gain fans by playing more straightforward styles?
PM: Well, for us, it’s not about gaining fans. So, to be honest, with Brutus, we don’t think about styles when writing music. We are three people who love music and love each other. We want to make records, play shows, and go on the road. For us, music is about energy and emotion. Touching, reaching, feeling. That is what comes straight out of us. We are just lucky people, and fans seem to like it.
The heart of black metal—or at least its origins—are primitive in sound and outlook. Was mixing this with the more technical aspects of Brutus’ sound a fun challenge?
PM: Yes. Stefanie is the one who brings in the black metal influences in our songs. [Guitarist] Stijn [Vanhoegaerden] and I, we don’t listen to black metal much, even though we do get it and enjoy it, and we do feel the energy and emotion.
You speak of your time recording Burst as being healing and confronting. Do you find that, sometimes, to heal, you have to confront the worst parts of yourself and be honest about them?
SM: I do agree that you only can make more progress as a band by seeing the bad sides of it as well. When you are with three different people, it is obvious that you are going to have three totally different thoughts and ideas about the songs on the album, the order of the album, the sound of the album, etc. I do believe that we needed these “confronting” moments for Burst to be made as it is now.
What inspired the cover art for Burst?
SM: At the end, we found our true core. [It’s a] photo made by Stijn, in the backyard of his grandmother, but we all had the same good feeling about it. So, that’s true Brutus. Peter designed the album, as well as all the illustrative things you see around our band. I found it a blessing that he uses his talent in the band as a graphic designer and as a bass player. Especially for a person as me, who is so confused and all over the place all the time with my thoughts. [Peter] makes us look professional! [Laughter]
Photo by Eva Vlonk