Answered by: Ryan
Danish band COMPOS MENTIS plays nocturnal Nordic night metal or something similar, close enough to other "Scandinavian metal" music styles in any case. The band has had it's normal ups and downs during the years and finally on next September band's debut album Fragments of a Withered Dream will be issued by American LOST DISICPLE Records. For the history and line-up stuff, check out bands home page. Originally this was to be released only in Finnish on Firebox site, but as I have found this interview quite interesting, it will be available for all you non-believers i.e. non-Finns. Questions and comments by J-P Muikku, answers by guitarist Ryan Kristensen
*First of all, where the band's name, Compos Mentis, came from?
Well, we needed a bandname and Andreas (drums) came up with Compos Mentis, which the rest of us thought sounded quite good. - And that's about as much thought as we put into that. The meaning of the word (to be at your common sense) has got nothing to do with our choice since we do not feel that we are nor that we aren't. But it surely beats a bandname which means coward like our old bandname did.
*Actually I was surprised that you wanted to answer to this interview as majority of the non-Finnish bands/labels consider "Finnish only" market as a waste of time. So, why?
If people are interested in what we're doing then of course we're interested in talking about it. If you hadn't been the editor for this webzine, but just wanted to ask us these questions, then we surely would have answered anyway. - And why shouldn't we? This band is very important to us so therefore we are also very eager to let any interested people into our universe. When I look at your questions in this interview it's obvious that you've actually spent some time gathering information on our homepage which makes it even more interesting for us to answer the questions.
Secondly Finland has Spinefarm/Spikefarm, where some of my favorite bands are signed (Children of Bodom, Nightwish, Kalmah, Throne of Chaos, Shadow, Arise, and Norther). According to my knowledge both COB and Norther have been among the top on the Finnish music chart. This could never happen in Denmark, - if it isn't pop or nu-metal it won't even be considered. So I guess that there must be a market for the more extreme metal music in Finland and therefore it would be stupid of us not to answer the questions and get a little mention in the Finnish metal press.
So all in all I personally don't get it, why would anyone say no?
("Just recently three bands from Holland didn't answer to my interviews. Their webpages have been updated since I sent the questions and their contact emails have stayed the same. So, the obvious conclusion might be that they didn't seem to give a fuck about having an interview on Finnish webzine. On the other hand, even among the Finnish bands the reply percents are something like 80 or so. Should I make conclusion that bands just doesn't want any publicity?")
*Your debut album "Fragments of a Withered Dream" has been recorded some time ago. Has there been any temptation to go "let's get back to studio and do that part again" thing?
In my opinion I think that the album is as good as we could possibly make it and I don't think that we could make it any better if we rerecorded anything. We are all very satisfied with the product, both the compositions and the work that Jacob Hansen (the producer) made. I can't wait until the release so we finally can receive some response forour work.
I know that it's been quite a while since we recorded the album and this is because it took a little longer than expected with the cover art, not because of Travis Smith, who was really fast, but because we didn't know exactly what the cover should contain. But it has turned out to become really great and next time we'll record an album, we know that we need to plan everything a little better before entering the studio. Anyway, if you like, you can go to www.composmentis.dk and download the two songs from the album that we've uploaded and mail us your comments.
*You were suppose to be in studio on last weekend, did everything went right? Where/when these new tracks will be used for?
Yeah, we got an offer from a guy who is learning to produce, he wanted to try recording some metal, since it's his favourite genre. The offer was something like this: Could you spare a weekend to record some of your material, - for free? Apparently he'd tried some demobands first, but for some odd reason they said no. This seems quite similar to people turning your offer down because it's "Finnish only".
We haven't received the final mix yet but the sound quality of the rough mix is already better than our first demo "Vulturous", which we actually paid to record!
The purpose of this recording session was primarily to get some studio experience (you can never have too much of that) and secondarily to hear some of our new material on cd. Then we can listen to the tracks and find out if there's anything we wish to change. - Well the lyrics will be, since we haven't written them yet, so it's just Jesper (vocal) screaming about him being the best, coolest, most attractive and the rest of the band members being stupid and smelling funny.
Beside from those goals we also had another and far more serious one: To become extremely drunk! And yeah, everything went right, we recorded (read: partied) till 9 am and the quality of the recording exceeded all expectations.
*As far I have understood, you had to choose between American Lost Disciple Records and Italian Nocturnal Music. How you ended up to LDR, as many bands might prefer to label that is in same continent?
Lost Disciple seems to be a well-established label, with bands like Pessimist, Averse Sefira, Noctuary, Pandemia, Enter Self and Burial. We are certain that LDR really has the capabilities to get us further. We also sought some help from Jacob Hansen and Michael H. Andersen (Withering Surface, Thorium, Mighty Music and MNW), which both advised us to sign with LDR.
We don't consider it to be a problem that LDR is an American label, on the contrary. I don't think that any European label could do as much for us in USA as LDR can. And we are willing to work hard to promote ourselves in Europe (let's hope we're good enough, so we can tour Finland, - and visit lake Bodom like every Children of Bodom fan.) so this way both continents are covered.
("Does City of Espoo know what a tourist trap they have there. trap 'em, kill 'em. er.")
*How's the club/gig scene in Denmark, is it easy to get gigs and is it easy to get GOOD gigs? Do you play any cover songs? Your website mentions that you are planning a Danish tour w/Illnath. What kind work it is to secure a few gigs in a row?
Well the Danish music scene is ok (but we've just changed into a liberal government, who wants to cut 15,3% in support to the clubs, - so let's see how long this lasts). In our area there's not so much metal but one concert a month can keep us going until next Wacken Open Air. I wont consider it to be easy to get gigs, we've worked really hard to plan some gigs with Illnath and received 6 offers to come and play. I think that we should be glad that we got 6 offers since neither of the bands have released anything yet, so the clubs aren't happy about having you to play. - If you're neither famous nor local, then the bookers don't like to take the risk.
I think that a good gig is a gig where the band gets some positive response from the audience and there's only one way to get that, and that is to give yourself 100% (and in some cases even more), so basically all gigs are potentially good gig. If there's only one person I would still consider it as a good gig if he/she likes it, though it's harder for the band to find the motivation when there's only a few listeners. I guess that's the conditions when you play extreme metal.
We haven't played a lot of coversongs, - well we started out to play Metallica songs back in 1996 but since then we've only played Moonspells' "Alma Mater" and Cradle of Filths' "Malice Through the Looking Glass". But we plan to play more coversongs. - Not to play them at concerts, but to become better musicians. I kind of dislike the thing with playing cover songs at live concerts, naturally the audience go nuts when they know the songs, but it's somehow depressing when they use all their energy on the songs that aren't your own stuff.
In order to secure a few gigs in a row you'll need some good contacts and you need to have something to offer to the club. We've never managed to play some concerts in a row, so I guess that this is not all. Naturally you could also pay a booking company.We haven't made any money on our concerts, in most cases we'll get our expenses paid, but if that's not possible then we'll just have to pay a little extra ourselves. Rather do that instead of missing an opportunity, I think.
*How the band members see Pia Kjaersgaard & Danish People's Party? Would you play a gig for reasons of a political benefit?
In Denmark everyone has got a right to have their own opinion, and what Pia K. and the Danish people party mean must reflect an opinion among a group of Danes. So we have to accept the Danish people party as long as they get votes. But they and the present government are cutting back on funds everywhere, including funds for performing artists and that means less money for clubs, less money for us, higher ticket-prices, fewer people coming to the shows etc. So I guess we cannot agree much with them on that particular subject.
As far as playing a "political gig", I guess it depends on how they are planning to incorporate our non-political music into a political theme. And what political theme are we talking about? If it's: Lower the funds to the music industry, then I guess the answer would be: No! The band is politically from the one side of the spectra to the other, and we don't discuss political themes in the band, besides from those which we agree on. But no, I don't think we in reality would play for a political benefit, and besides we have never been asked - I doubt we ever will be: what parties would use a death metal band for promotion? - but if we are asked, we will discuss it in the band and take it from there.
("For the political extremists of the left and right, the various music scene's has been and still is the main recruiting area for new members.")
*Denmark has been a bit stubborn time to time in EU issues, where this draws the power in the country, ain't EU good for Danes?
Again this is a political question and within the band we only agree on some of the EU issues, but some Danes think it's good for us and some don't. None of us (the band) knows the exact reasons why some like it and some don't, but when it all comes down to it I guess it is a matter of personality.
*You all are living in Vojens? How you see the area (southern Denmark, close to German border), is it a drawback or a positive thing for the band? I guess that it's easier for you to go to Hamburg than to Copenhagen for gigs?
We all used to live in Vojens, but right now only two of us live here and after this summer I'm also moving away, since there's no possibilities to study anything around here.
You're right it is easier to go to Hamburg than Copenhagen, but we've never played in Germany because it's hard to arrange gigs in a different country when we do not have any contacts yet. But when our cd is released this will be our number one priority.
*Finns know Carlsberg, but is there really anything else what Finns should know about Denmark?-)
Tuborg (even better beer than Carlsberg). And of course some Danish bands like: Illnath, Withering Surface, Hatesphere, Aurora, Thorium, Saturnus and Fairytale Abuse.
*Anything to add?
Thanks for this interview. I hope that we'll be able to collaborate with you in the future.
To the reader: Thanks for reading this and I hope that you'll prove Janne-Pekka Muikku wrong and show us that it truly is worth to consider the "finnish only" market to be a good one. Therefore go to www.composmentis.dk and listen to some of our music and drop us line on firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us that you've read this and of course what you think of our music.