5 Minutes with…The Brute Chorus

Confrontational, unabashed, decadent, ironic, whimsical and totally sweat-drenched honest, The Brute Chorus are a London folk blues rock band that walk on the intellectual side of heavy guitar music. From the countryside to the gloomy city’s streets and dive bars, these boys have been winning over fans and critics alike with their often morbid tales of hardened lives. JUICE has a word with lead singer and guitarist James Steel. Indie be damned!

What were you doing prior to reading this question?
I’ve been making Spotify playlists on our band’s account so people can see the sort of music that makes us tick. I’ve always been a compulsive compiler of music from mixtapes to CDs, iTunes playlists and now Spotify. I’ve only made a couple so far. The problem with seemingly limitless choice is knowing when to stop. With a C90 cassette, you had 45 minutes a side and that would shape what you put on. Now there’s no break point, no end point…

You guys are often compared to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. How accurate is this comparison and what are your musical influences?
It’s very flattering when people say that; however, I shudder to think what real Nick Cave fans would think. We’re not as dark as they are. There’re some similarities, but there’s a pop sensibility to the Brutes that you don’t find in Bad Seeds music. The band bring so many other influences to the table when we write and perform that any Nick Cave comparisons are probably selling us short.

Your self-titled debut album was recorded live at The Roundhouse last year. Was it a conscious decision to capture the band’s live presence or was it due to budget constraints?
Our manager and I came up with the idea while getting very drunk one night. We’d been finding the studio a really frustrating place to be in and we were trying to come up with ways around this problem that would allow us to finally make our album. The task was daunting to all of us, but The Brutes always respond to a challenge. The album’s great; it’s a moment in time for us and the fans who were there, and an important step for the band. We all had to beg, borrow and steal to make it happen but it was worth it…a night we will never forget.

How long did it take to record your new album How The Caged Bird Sings and what are your hopes for it?
Longer than we’d planned! We gave ourselves 8 days to record in a village hall in the Lake District in January. The heating had bust the night before, which really slowed things down. We ran out of time to cut the vocals so Nick and I went to our producer Choque’s house in Leeds for 3 days to do them the following week. A lot of the lyrics on the album ended up improvised and pretty raw. Then we had 5 days back in London for mix-down. Our money was running out and so it was a race against time to get it done. The playing’s great. The mood’s dark and cold. You can hear the reverb of that Victorian hall all over it. A marked change from the 1st album, which is a good thing in my book. It shows a progression.

You seem to know a lot about depression and yearning. What advice would you give to a buddy who just got dumped?
Move on. Get that other person out of your hair as soon as you can. And get out of theirs in return. Do the both of you a favour. Go out, get laid, get pissed, do whatever you have to do. The pain won’t last forever.

Any plans to tour Asia-particularly South East Asia where Malaysia is located-in the future?
There’s nowhere on earth we don’t want to take our music. It’s just a matter of time and being able to afford it. I spent a day and a night in KL. I was so jetlagged the whole experience was quite psychedelic, but it was an amazing place. I’d love to go back.

Give us 4 words to describe the indie rock scene in the UK…
Same old, same old…

How The Caged Bird Sings (TAPE) dropped on 13 September. For more Brute, check out www.myspace.com/thebrutechorus.