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Johan (Brutus)

Interview with Johan from Brutus
by Maria Voutiriadou at 22 July 2010, 2:07 PM

When the inspiration in lyrics comes between demons and women lyrically and the riff guitars are colored with some nice heavy bluesy 70 hard rock melodies, then it’s time to talk about BRUTUS; the Scandinavian quintet that rocked our world out for good a couple of months ago with the self-titled debut album. So, this was some good timing to hook up with Johan (the one of the two guitarists of the band) and ask him a few questions regarding this debut album, the contract with Transbustans Records, plus some general info for the band to know them a little bit better. Here’s what he had to say.

Hi Johan, congratulations on BRUTUS' debut album. Well, let's begin with an introduction of the band. Tell us a few things about BRUTUS. When and by who was it formed etc?
Thanks! We are really satisfied with it. Krille and I talked for a long time to start a band together. Both got tons of riffs waiting to be songs. We found Kim at a bar in Oslo. He’s from the same city in Sweden as I am and a great guitarist. So, we start to jam on a couple of songs. Then Knut-Ole joins us on drums and songs grew up to be some heavy 70 sound. Jokke was the singer in an Oslo band called RITUALS. We saw them a couple of times and thought he was a great singer and asked him to join us.

How would you describe the music of BRUTUS to those that don't know you yet?
Heavy bluesy 70 hard rock, maybe? Don’t know really. One song is more SABBATH/ PENTAGRAM for me. One song is more GRAND FUNK, the Bolin DEEP PURPLE area.

Where did the band's name come from? Does it mean something and what's the connection with the awesome cover of the album? What can we see in this cover? The picture is quite abstractive and fuzzy.
Krille came up with the name. Don’t think he got so much in mind when he came up with the name. Maybe he saw a couple of Popeye episodes before he came up with the awesome name BRUTUS (lauphs).

Is it hard to be a beginner in the music industry or the 'Retro Heavy Rock' path you choose, helps you to entry into the music discography?
Well, we aren’t so good in the paper working part of the band. We love to make song and play them in the rehearsal room and in front of people. We made a good album and Transubstans liked it.

What are your personal influences (and BRUTUS influences too) as far as music goes? Which were the bands that influenced you the most? I can name GRAND FUNK RAILROAD, GRANICUS and SIR LORD BALTIMORE. Would you like to add/ remove some names?
You nailed it almost perfectly. GRAND FUNK is one of the bands that got us together. Not many people listen to it here in Oslo. So, when we talked about Mark Farner and the gang to Jokke he joined the band immediately (lauphs). Then SABBATH, SIR LORD, BLUE CHEER, PENTAGRAM, LEAF HOUND have made a big influence on the band. For me, Peter Green and Danny Kirwan in FLEETWOOD MAC is an all time favourite guitar duo. Also, a huge Paul Kossoff and FREE fan. Think you can’t find any more blues rock band with so much soul. Then KISS, ZEPPELIN, PURPLE and tones of small bands like BLACK CAT BONES, JERUSALEM, ANDROMEDA, BULL ANGUS, LEFT END and so on.

What's the new element BRUTUS have to offer to the music industry? Give us 2-3 reasons why a listener should choose BRUTUS between so many Scandinavian Heavy Retro Rock bands.
That’s a hard question. Don’t think they should just choose BRUTUS. They should get all the great bands coming out in Sweden now and BRUTUS!

You have a deal with a very good record company, Transbustans Records, specialist to Heavy Rock sound. What advice would you give to other new bands that are looking to write good songs and secure a record deal?
Hmm, my advice is to make good songs. We just make the songs for us in the rehearsal room. You can hear in 2 seconds if it will be a great song or not. Then if somebody likes it, that’s fantastic. If we, in the band likes it, that’s fine to. Just jam a lot and drink a lot of beers. That’s the easy part (lauphs). Then send out your demo to all the great labels you know. Do it the old fashion way, not only put the songs in Myspace and hope you will get a record deal tomorrow.

How come you didn't follow ABRAMIS BRAMA recipe and you didn't use lyrics in Swedish? Is it more difficult to approach a listener if you are not writing lyrics in English or not?
Well, we are a Norwegian band; that’s why we don’t sing Swedish lyrics (laughs). We are three from Sweden and two from Norway. All we are living in Oslo. We never thought of about it. Writing the songs in English was the only way.

Do BRUTUS write first the melodies/ music or the lyrics? Or you use to write both at the same time?
We write always the music first. One of us has a riff and we just jam that riff to a great song. Then Jokke comes up with lyrics and melodies. Think that’s the way 99% of the band that plays hard rock do.

Who’s the main composer, really, and which are the main sources of inspiration for the music and lyrics?
We really don’t have a main composer. Krille and I got the most of the riffs. But all five of the members really have their own ideas and take part when we are jaming the riffs and make a song. Jokke writes all the lyrics. Now, about the inspiration, demons and women I guess?

Blame the women! (lauphs) So, what are your plans for now? Are you planning any live shows to promote "Brutus"?
We played a lot in Sweden and Norway and some in London. Also, a little trip to Germany &Denmark is planned for this summer too. Then we hope to do a bigger tour in Europe in the autumn/ winter. The CD has just been out for a couple of month so we got more listeners every day. We will make a split 7" single in October. Then a second album will be out early next year.

"Golden Town" is my favorite track from the album. Can you name 1 or 2 songs you prefer most of the album and why?
“Golden Town” is maybe my live favorite song. Because it’s really a odd hard rock song, and maybe little more bluesy.It’s hard for me to choose 1-2 songs that I like most. Like all of the songs off the album. But I think “Hypnotized” and “Spirit Of Time” is really fun to play live. So, long songs with many great parts. Then “Hey Mama” always makes the crowd move and that’s always great to see them dig the songs.

What's the meaning of 70s for BRUTUS? I mean, you weren't born then, were you? So, why your influences are coming from the 70s and you didn't choose a more modern era to inspire your music?
We were born back then but didn’t have enough time to catch some music (laughs). Just think the music sounds so much better. All the musicians got more time to play together every day before making an album or play live. Like SABBATH: played blues for years before the first SABBATH album. Today you can get a record deal after 3 rehearsals. Then take PURPLE and ZEPPELIN, where you can find bands like that today? No one is near what they did.
Then when to listen to KISS, AC/DC and so on as a kid you just want to discover more about it when you grow up. Then you find bands like GRANICUS, CACTUS, GRAND FUNK and even Johnny Winter & Muddy Waters.

I could recognize a lot of 'Hendrix' in the guitar parts; is it true or false? Tell me your opinion about Jimi Hendrix and if you are influenced by him.
Both Kim and I love Jimi. I totally love the late stuff he did. Heavier groovy, more jam feeling in the songs. I can’t say though that he influenced the songs. But it’s hard for us to tell who inspired us on that song and that song. When you come up with a song it’s often someone else that tells you, ‘hey that’s sounds like a SABBATH song’ and so on.

I always ask if there is anything you would like to add to finish up?
Don’t so much more then say that’s we hope that a lot of hard rock listeners support us in Greece and all other countries like the album so we can go on tour soon! Check out our website for news about the upcoming 7" and tours.

Thanx a lot for your time, Johan! Really hope to see the band and enjoy your awesome music live in the near future!
Thanks a lot for contact & support us! I’d love to play in Greece for you.


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Edited 06 February 2023

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