Brutus’ hardcore-playing, Americana-loving Stijn Vanhoegaerden picks the songs that shaped his electric guitar sound.
A tune I’d play to someone new to our band... War - Brutus
“Normally I would say All Along, from our first record because we felt at the time that’s the song that we tried to put everything that we do into it, but now I would say War. The intro is something I just played, and Stefanie [Mannaerts, Brutus drummer/vocalist] started singing and we didn’t even work on it; it’s just something that happened.
“I really like the dynamics and there’s that stupid hardcore riff in the middle, we were just making fun of ourselves. It’s got a mixture of everything we love, and we don’t take ourselves too seriously, it has so many things in one song that shouldn’t be in one song.”
My favourite song to play live... Baby Seal - Brutus
“I have friends who are schooled musicians; playing live, it’s like second nature for them, but I’ve still got nerves every time I go onstage. That’s the one point in the set where I’m like, 'I don’t give a fuck right now.' It’s just chords and simple melodies; that’s not a hard song to play, not that that’s why I love it, but it’s straightforward. It’s a breather for me in the set.”
A solo I love... Freezin’ In Hell - Mitch Ryder
“That solo is the best solo I ever heard. I remember that from when I was a kid and it’s stuck with me ever since. It’s something I just put on for the solo. I love it.”
The track that came together the smoothest... Space - Brutus
“That’s something I was just fingerpicking - what happens a lot when we’re in rehearsal and everybody is setting up, we’re talking, and I start playing sometimes. I know if Stefanie starts humming along then it’s going to turn into something. That song feels effortless to me. You have those moments when you’re in the rehearsal space and write a song in an hour.”
A song with the perfect guitar sound... Holy Water - King Dude
“There’s one song from King Dude, an American singer-songwriter, he does really dark Americana. It’s typically country but in a really dark setting that gives it a really spooky vibe.”
My favourite guitarist to watch live... The Shape I’m In - George Kilby Jr
“I saw a show when I was really young in Brussels, George Kilby Jr, an American guitar player. I even have the album I bought that night as a little kid. It was the first time I’d seen someone play effortlessly. He was singing the whole time, not even looking at his guitar, and soloing and playing and it all sounded so perfect. Wow.”
The song I want played at my funeral... Alone And Forsaken - Townes Van Zandt
“Townes Van Zandt has a cover he does of a Hank Williams’ song; its’ the saddest song ever. When I die, I want everyone to cry at my funeral.”
The song I play in every bar... There Is A Light That Never Goes Out - The Smiths
“In our hometown every time I walk into a bar, I have to ask them to play There Is A Light That Never Goes Out. It has become a thing - they make fun of me because of it. I don’t care.
“We had to do some songs on the radio in Belgium and Stefanie played that song as a piano version, just her. I really like the way she plays it.
“It’s one of my favourite songs. Where I used to live there used to be bars where I’d just walk in with my friends and they would play it just to get it over with.”
Brutus’s new album Nest is out now on Hassle Records.