Answered by: Andreas
1. Can you present us COMPOS MENTIS and its member?
COMPOS MENTIS is an atmospheric and melodic death/black metal band from Denmark and we have been around since 1996. After recording our four-track demo-cd, "Quadrology of Sorrow", in spring 2000 we were offered a record deal with Lost Disciple Records in the USA. We chose to sign the contract and we expect our debut album "Fragments of a Withered Dream" to be released in the summer of 2002. The members of Compos Mentis are Jesper Heinsvig (guitar and vocals), Ryan Kristensen (guitar), Andreas Posselt (drums), Dan Damgaard (bass) and Bo Damgaard (Keyboards). This line-up is more or less identical with the original line-up from 1996. The only change is that Bo joined in on keyboards in the beginning of 1999.
2. COMPOS MENTIS exists since 1996, but you have only produced a MNCD, why?
Actually we had been in the studio twice before recording "Quadrology of Sorrow". When we began playing, we were just a couple of fourteen and fifteen-years-old guys wanting to play some Metallica-covers. And so we did. We didn't take it seriously at that time. Later on we began to compose our own music and in the beginning of 1999 we recorded a demo called "Vulturous" and sent it to 5 or 6 record-companies in Denmark only. Serious Entertainment must have seen some potential in our music and they offered us to get a track on the compilation cd "Extremity Rising Vol. 4". Therefore, we recorded one single track "Brave & Lonely" to be featured on the compilation. Jacob Hansen (from Serious Entertainment) liked it and offered us to be our producer the next time we would go in the studio. Anyway, we don't really consider these earlier recordings to be actual demos as the music is very far from what we play now. It's not even the same genre.
3. "Quadrology of Sorrow" is a concept album. Could you describe its main theme?
The main theme of "Quadrology of Sorrow" is liberty, I'd say. The lyrics form a story about a person who becomes insane after having experienced a huge sorrow. In this state he is somehow bound by his own insanity, that is the opposite of freedom. In the end of the story, however, he returns to his normal state of mind and from this point he is free, stronger than he was before the experience. The artwork of "Quadrology of Sorrow" illustrates a landscape with the sun setting in the ocean behind some mountains and in front of this, yet between the sky and the ocean, there is a flying raven. This setting symbolizes the battle between good (life) and evil (death), represented by the sun and the dark mountains / ocean. The raven, which is also referred to several times in the lyrics, is meant as the link between the two worlds and it is well-known that birds in general also symbolizes freedom. So with the raven flying between the upper - the light - half and the lower - the dark - half, the question is raised whether man is free in this life or after death...
4. What influences you when you write your songs?
This is a very difficult question to answer in general, I think, but of course all the music that we listen to in our everyday lives is a great source of inspiration. We have quite different musical interests within Compos Mentis, ranging from classical music to pop, rock, techno and - of course - metal. But basically I think that all music can be seen as a mirror to the human mind, meaning that all the experiences (good and bad) that you have as a human being are what actually forms the music. A lot of (metal) musicians would probably agree when I say that composing and playing music is some sort of purification where you are releived from some of the negative feelings within you. So even though it may sound as a cliché, I think that most of our music actually comes from within.
5. Some narrative passages sound like EMPYRIUM's one. Do they influence you?
I wouldn't consider Empyrium (though it is a great band) to influence us very much. I guess you mainly refer to the track "Visions of Tragedy" with this question and I can very well see what you mean but this song is by far the most atmospheric one that we have ever done. So in general our music cannot be compared with Empyrium, I think.
6. After your MNCD, you have been signed on Lost Disciple Records. Why did you choose an american company?
After having sent "Quadrology..." out to about 80 record companies all over the world, we got a lot of standard answers like: "The material on the cd is very good but right now we are not interested in signing Compos Mentis". But there were a couple of labels who offered us a contract and we found Lost Disciple Records' offer to be the best. So it's not that we chose this label just because of the fact that it was American. It was simply the best contract of the ones that we were offered.
7. You have made an amazing promotional work for "Quadrology of Sorrow". Did it pay?
It is impossible to measure exactly how much it has payed but it is no doubt that it has been very important to send out this many cd's. We have been offered some record-contracts, got tons of reviews, done a bunch of interviews and our music has been played on the radio in different countries. We also get a lot of applications from people who have heard about us in magazines, on the internet etc. So we can encourage all other demo bands to contact as many labels, magazines, distros concert arrangers etc. as possible.
8. Do you think that a web-site is necessary for a band, and is the promotion through the web efficient?
I don't think it is necessary yet, but it is definitely a very good idea. There are a lot of good promotion possibilities on the Internet. Having your own web-site and exchanging links with other websites does pay. You can also upload some of your music so that people can listen to it and get interested this way. Besides from that it is also way much easier to contact people via email than if you have to communicate through snail mail all the time.
9. You have started to record your first album in September 2001, and it will only be released in early summer 2002. Why a so long delay?
First of all, we are not 100% sure yet that it will be released in the early summer. As "Fragments of a Withered Dream" is our first full-length album, we wanted the nicest cover possible. We have had Travis Smith (Opeth, Katatonia...) to do the artwork and at this point we are very satisfied with how things have worked out. After the recording we spent a little too much time finding out what we actually wanted on the cover and after that it took a whole lot of time to finish it as Travis had to get our approval with the images from time to time. Besides from this, Lost Disciple Records have a couple of releases scheduled before ours so we just have to be patient. It doesn't matter that much as it is our first album but we have learned that it is a very good idea to know what the artwork should be like before entering the studio.
10. Jacob Hansen will be once again your producer, why did you choose him?
There are several reasons for us choosing Jacob Hansen again. First of all it is because we really like the sound on his productions, obviously. Besides from this he is a very cool guy to work with and he knows pretty much what we want. Rich from Lost Disciple Records also thought that the sound was very cool. As a last thing, it was also easiest for us to record in the town of Aabenraa as we don't live very far from it.
11. Will your next album be a concept album?
I wouldn't directly call it a concept album but there are some themes that are present in several of the lyrics such as self-deception or senselessness. The reason why we have chosen to entitle the album "Fragments of a Withered Dream" is that all the lyrics have some sort of negative and longing feeling to them and you can see each of the songs to represent a part (fragment) of a broken illusion of the idea of a perfect life.
12. Will you try to turn in southern Europe?
We are interested in playing as many concerts as we possibly can but at first I guess that we will try to tour here in Denmark. When the album has been released, we will see how things turn out and hopefully then we can do some touring in Europe.
13. Denmark is the less popular Scandinavian country for metal music, how do you explain this?
Back in the beginning of the 90's when Norway went through this whole black metal thing, suddenly the world's attention was drawn to the north. And some years later when the bands around Gothenburg in Sweden began to play the Swedish death metal, this became a very popular genre like the Norwegian black metal was. Nowadays Finland has a lot of very melodic bands inspired by the 80's metal. So maybe what we need here in Denmark is our own style. New Wave of Danish Death Metal or something like that.
14. Do you think that it will change, and if you think so, which bands will make your scene evolve?
Yeah, I think that the danish metal scene is getting better day by day. There are a lot of very cool Danish established bands such as Withering Surface, Saturnus, Aurora, Iniquity etc. but there are also several great upcoming bands, which I am sure that you'll be hearing more about in the future years. For example I can mention Illnath, Fairytale Abuse, Urkraft, Contempt, Koldborn etc.
15. What do you think about the European Union and its unique money, the Euro? Do you think it's a good thing for the people and the trading?
I guess that it is a very good thing for the countries in Europe that they try to co-operate but I am not sure that this is the only - or the best - possible way to do it. I think that many people find it increasingly difficult to care about politics when the decisions are made so far away from themselves and with so many other nations than their own. Besides from this I think that the countries will slowly loose some of their original culture and traditions when we are more or less forced to do like the other countries. As you might know, we haven't introduced the Euro here in Denmark which indicates that people are getting suspicious about the whole project. It is well-known, after all, that some would like to see Europe as counterpart to USA but I don't think that all Europeans are willing to give up their national identity for that.
16. Is there a question you'd like to be asked?
I think that you've already covered most of what's happening with Compos Mentis, but if you insist: How does the future look for Compos Mentis?
17. What would be the answer?
First of all we want our debut album to be released, and then we'll try to promote as much as we can. We also want to play at as many concert and festivals as possible. Sadly most of the summer festivals are already fully booked, so we hope to get a chance next year when the CD has been released.
18. Thank you, I let you finish.
Well, thanks a lot for the interview. If any of you readers should be interested in Compos Mentis after reading this (hope so!), then check out http://www.composmentis.dk for further information, news, music samples etc. Hope to see you out there some time!