From 2005-2009 I played guitar in a cool band called Brut 66. We were a bunch of thirty- and forty-somethings who’d all ended up in the same country town and discovered we shared similar – some would say impeccable – musical tastes and had played in similar bands in our younger days.
What’s in a name?
When we first started playing and went through the usual brainstorming process bands do when they need to come up with a name we ended up settling on the quite unique – or so we thought – Brut 66. I can’t remember who came up with it but I do remember that at first it wasn’t taken as a serious contender (unlike some others: Dead Leg, The Nits and Red Motor, um hello?). It didn’t take long though. For me personally it was a great choice because it was stupid and kind of clever at the same time and had three big selling points:
- It referenced the famous blues standard Route 66, famous to me via Chuck Berry and the Stones. Aside from being a great song I’ve always loved the song because of the several layers of meaning between the lines of it’s favourite lyrics. I knew that it symbolised the dream of a better life in utopian California for many poor black Americans who travelled it (check out Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath) and that it “celebrate[d] the romance and freedom of automobile travel” (Wikipedia).
- It also referenced the ubiquitous and totally cheesy Brut 33 aftershave that was a part of life (and found under many a Christmas tree, chosen by hapless Aunties) for any male growing up in the 1970s and 80s.
- It was a great bit of wordplay that mashed these two great pop culture references together. Puns, especially ones like this, have long been a favourite of my bandmates.
So anyway, off we went. We wrote some songs, practised them in Greg’s shed, played to our friends and families and occasionally ventured further afield. We recorded a couple of CDs. We didn’t change musical history but we had lots of fun.
Our style? We had dollops of 60s garage and Detroit rock, a bit of Australian underground in there. We were loud and messy, usually in a good way. As well as our originals we did some covers by the likes of The Sonics, Ramones, Patti Smith, God.
Our name was often misspelled and that was part of the fun. On posters done by other bands we played, occasional newpaper ads, the memorable cover of a street press magazine and blackboards outside dodgy pubs we were sometimes ‘Brutt 66’ with two ts, at least once ‘Brute 66’, sometimes ‘Route 66’. It was fitting that for our very last gig at Sydney’s Lansdowne Hotel the blackboard announced ‘Brut GG’.
At the end of 2009 our singer moved away and the band ended.
The plot thickens
A couple of months later an email landed in my inbox
played in a band called Brut 66 from Düsseldorf-Germany in the late 80´s.
sounded maybe like 70´s english styled punk rock or something else.
released only one 7 inch on a small local label called Teenage Rebel Records.
have a few copies left. if you are interessted i can send you 1 or 2.just for fun.
see you on tour in düsseldorf!
I nearly fell off my chair. Another band with exactly the same name had existed well before we thought of it. Their musical style even sounded not a million miles away from ours. I know that it’s hard to find a unique band name these days but hey, Brut 66?
Yesterday a package arrived from Michael with four singles from the ‘other’ Brut 66, recorded in 1988 in Düsseldorf. They look very young and – as I did in those days – eager to look as tough and hard as possible. In keeping with releases from the pre-digital age the single includes a photocopied A4 sheet with some cut and pasted pictures and typewritten lyrics. After the band members names it says “No thanks to anyone”.
Looks we’ve been well and truly outpunked!
(I’m ashamed to say that my record player is out of action right now so I haven’t been able to listen yet).
Pics of old and new Brut 66 singles and CDs below.
Stay tuned for the dual Brut 66es Germany and Australia reunion tour in another 10 years…
Footnote for fellow grammar and spelling pedants: I struggled with the correct way to write the plural of Brut 66: should it be Brut 66s or Brut 66es? None of the online sources
I checked could tell me definitively. I know if it was written as Brut Sixty-Six the ‘es’ plural would be correct so I’ve gone with that. Further dicussion welcome, if anyone cares.