Home. It’s where the heart is. It’s the places we retreat to for a sense of safety and stability when everything else in our life is in flux. It is the people we hold close – friends, family, partners – who we can can also inadvertently hurt the most by our actions.
For Brutus, home is still the Belgian town of Leuven. It is where they formed the band in 2014 and it is where their rehearsal space is. Although, as drummer and singer Stefanie Mannaerts explains, neither she, guitarist Stijn Vanhoegaerden or bassist Peter Mulders actually live there anymore. “Peter and I live in Ghent and Stijn lives in Brussels,” she says, sat in the practice space with her running mates on a sunny day in the university town. “There was a time when we wrote [2017 debut album] Burst and everything before where we were living next to each other in Leuven, in the same building. And now we all moved out with our boyfriend or girlfriends, and we’re trying to be adults. Our rehearsal space is still here, so it’s about an hour drive instead of being 10 minutes away.”
A lot has changed for Brutus in the two years since they released Burst. A collision of window-smashing punk, scything guitar crescendos and seismic post-rock immensity with Stefanie’s piercing vocals at the centre, the album was a word-of-mouth success that put the band’s name on the map after years touring Belgium’s small club circuit. Tastemaker label Sargent House signed them, leading to support tours with labelmates Chelsea Wolfe and Russian Circles that thrust the three-piece in front of gobsmacked crowds around the world. Not to mention the high praise from The Black Queen’s Greg Puciato, Thrice’s Riley Breckenridge and Lars Ulrich, who played the band on his radio show and asked to meet them during Metallica’s WorldWired Tour.