BRUTUS "And The Boogie Woogie Flu"

By Lord Randall

With band members in two different (though neighboring) countries, you’d think an album like "Behind The Mountains" would reek of overcompression, filesharing and general shite. Not so for BRUTUS, who have released their sophomore platter recently. Take healthy slabs of CREAM (you know, when Clapton mattered?), GRAND FUNK and the oft’ namechecked PENTAGRAM, and you have a good idea of where the band is coming from. Lord Randall sat down with three of the members to find out how they made boogie their own…

 WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: There’s a definite ‘70s vibe to the new album, maybe even more ‘boogie’ related than the debut. Was this just the natural outgrowth of the music, or a conscious decision?

JOHAN: Never thought about that the new one is more boogie. Think the first one has got many great boogie songs like ‘Swamp City Blues’, ‘Feel Free’, ‘Hey Mama’ and so on…but the new one’s got some great boogie tunes too, of course.

KIM: Most of the songs we do just begin with the five of us just jamming on a riff that someone came up with. And from there it evolves.

WC: I’d say "Behind The Mountains" holds more in common with bands like BROWNSVILLE STATION, MOUNTAIN and BAD COMPANY than the more ‘typical’ bands like DEEP PURPLE, BLACK SABBATH and IRON BUTTERFLY. Sure, the songs are heavy, but there’s always a groove, and even at the darkest, you can almost feel the smiles on your faces while playing.

KIM: Yeah! The whole thing about playing in this band is to have fun …and drinking beer! I'm having the time of my life playing these songs. even the slow ones. Have a good time, all the time!

WC: Do you think there’s sometimes an unspoken pressure for bands in heavy music to always have this ‘dark/sad/angry’ persona about them? It’s almost like having a good time and rocking the fuck out is looked down on, even by those who should be enjoying it most.

KIM: I think it's an image thing. If you play black metal, then of course you should be angry and dark. But I guess that none of us in BRUTUS could ever play that sort of music. But on the other hand, all the black metal guys I've met have met have been as happy and funny as we are. Maybe they get their anger out on stage. But in a way, so do we.

JOHAN: When we started the band ,it was bands like CACTUS, LEAF HOUND, DEEP PURPLE and BLACK SABBATH that got us together. [We just make] the songs we love, and if it sounds like PENTAGRAM or like FACES, it’s the same for me. We never think of any bands when we jam a song. It always turns in to a BRUTUS song even if its sounds like an Iommi riff or a Peter Green one.

JOKKE: Our lyrics are actually sometimes a little dark and serious.

WC: Who was the “young girl in Gothenburg” mentioned in ‘Big Fat Boogie’? Personal experience, or just a story? Also, congrats on the TIN HOUSE cover on the 7”. You really did justice to the original. What led you to choose that song specifically?

JOHAN: Hehe, that’s something the singer must answer. But, yes, a true and great story! Really nice girl and they’re still together. Thanks! We’ve listened to TIN HOUSE for a long time and we all used to play that song when we were DJing around Oslo.

JOKKE: The young girl in Gothenburg is the same girl I’m getting married to this summer! But the song is actually about missing my band, my bandmates and all my friends in Oslo after I moved to Gothenburg myself.

WC: Have you found yourself accepted while playing with sometimes very different bands, like at Freak Valley Fest? How was that show? From all reports, it was fantastic.

JOHAN: It’s a little bit of a shame. But always a success when we play a concert, even if it’s for 300 bikers or 300 metalheads like in Copenhagen at the Heavy Days In Doom Town festival.

KIM: Yes ,that's a bit weird actually. It doesn't really seem to matter where we play, people seem to like what we do ,especially the other bands. And Freak Valley was awesome. It felt like everybody at the festival was there.

WC: What was the inspiration behind ‘Square Headed Dog’?

JOHAN: For me, the main riff sounds very BLUE CHEER, but maybe Kim has more info. He wrote the main riff.

KIM: Well, yes, I wanted to do a song that  had that BLUE CHEER dirty bluesy feel to it. Really gritty. I came up with the riff, and then we all just jammed on it for a while. But I think it was first when we sent it to Jokke that the song really came together. He had some really nice tweaks to it that I feel made the whole thing work. And of course, after that we peppered it with fuzz pedals, wah wahs and Jokkes' funny looking dog.

WC: How do the songs come together? With the band being split up between Norway and Sweden, how are rehearsals done? Do you stick to getting together personally, or is there a lot of file trading/Skypeing going on?

JOHAN: Everyone besides Jokke lives around and in Oslo, so we jam and make songs, and send them to Jokke. We’ve got a small studio in the rehearsal room. Then we hook up and complete the song in Oslo.

WC: When recording, how analog was your set-up? Did you put everything to tape, or rely on ProTools like so many supposedly “real” rock bands do these days?

JOHAN: We recorded the songs on to tape but transferred them to digital before the mixing part and mixed it digital.

KIM: To be completely honest, we recorded the B-side for the single straight to the computer in our rehearsal room with super cheap mics. Then we sent it to our studio guy in Oslo, who did a nice job cleaning up our mess from the rehearsal room. But that's just that track. The rest of the album is recorded on to tape with real mics. And most of the songs are pretty much live in the studio. After digital mixing, we send the files for mastering in Gothenburg at the Music-A-Matic studio where Hendryk Lipp does his voodoo.

WC: What was the filming for the video for ‘Personal Riot’ like? Great job, by the way.

JOHAN: [Laughter] That was as low budget [as] you can do. [We] just filmed some parts over some small tours, and Knut-Ole made it on his Mac.