Answered by: Andreas
1.) Please introduce the band and the members.
Well, Compos Mentis are a Danish metal band playing melodic and atmospheric death / black something like Dark Tranquillity, At the Gates and Eucharist but with some more atmosphere and "black" elements. We are all between 20 and 22 years old so we must have been somethink like 14-16 years old when we started back in 1996. Besides from the fact that we all love various kinds of metal, we have very different musical interests and backgrounds so when composing new material, each of us influences the music in his specific way and this is something that makes it quite interesting to write new music. It also makes us exceed the usual limits of the genre that we play, I think.
2.) Who had the idea for the band name and why did you choose it?
It was actually me who came up with the name as I had stumbled upon it somewhere. The only reason for us to choose it was that we thought it sounded quite cool. Meaning something like "to be at your common sense", it has no deep philosophy or anything behind it whatsoever.
3.) Tell us more about the history of the band.
Even though we have been playing since January 1996, you can consider the spring of 1999 to be the beginning as that was the time when Bo (keyboard) joined the Compos Mentis forces. This was when we actually sowed the seeds for the genre which we play now. We recorded a single song ("Brave and Lonely"), which was chosen to be featured on a Danish metal compilation called "Extremity Rising Vol. 4" and a little less than a year later we recorded our first actual demo-cd, entitled "Quadrology of Sorrow", in "Aabenraa-studiet" with Jacob Hansen as producer. After having sent out this cd to hundreds of different people from magazines, record companies, radiostations etc., we received some contract offers from different labels and tons of great reviews in the 'zines. We decided to sign a deal with the American label "Lost Disciple Records" (Pessimist, Pandemia, Averse Safira etc.). Our debut album, "Fragments of a Withered Dream", is expected to be out in September but until then you can check out two of the tracks on www.mp3.com/composmentis.
4.) What musical background do you have (lessons, former bands)?
We have all taken lessons in the local school of music but only one of us (Dan) had played in other bands before Compos Mentis. For the time being both Jesper, Dan and I play in other bands as well but we're not as devoted to them as to Compos Mentis. By now it's only Ryan (guitar) who keeps on taking musical lessons as he has been admitted to a music academy in Esbjerg here in Denmark so he's going to spend the next years with a guitar in the hands most of the time.
5.) How would you describe your style?
When asked this question, we usually answer melodic and atmospheric death metal. But it's difficult to put a label on it as all the songs are different in one way or another. It's not that you can't count on our music, never knowing what to expect, but we don't just write every new song similar to the last one. That would be way too boring for us. I think it's all about finding the golden mean by keep on playing somewhat the same style but at the same time developing the music so that it never gets boring neither for us nor for the listeners.
6.) Who are your musical influences?
As I mentioned above, we all have very different sources of inspiration so it is difficult to point out just a few. It's obvious that we are influenced by the Swedish death metal scene but we mix it with some more atmospheric parts à la Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth and this way we end up with some music which is both aggressive and emotional while also having some grandiose keyboard-based passages.
7.) What are your 5 alltime favourite albums?
In my opinion Arcturus' masterpiece "La Masquerade Infernale" is the best album ever as you keep finding details in the music which you haven't noticed before. I'll never grow tired of that album, that's for sure. Besides from that I have spent endless time listening to Cradle Of Filth's "Dusk... And Her Embrace", Dimmu Borgir's "Enthrone Darkness Triumphant", (Swedish) Embraced's debut album "Amorous Anathema" and last but not least "Morningrise" by Opeth.
8.) What are your current favourites?
For the time being it's "Arts of Desolation" by the Swedish band The Forsaken and the new album with Arcturus, "The Sham Mirrors", which has the "place of honour" in my cd-recorder. Not quite as good as "La Masquerade Infernale" but I guess that no album ever will be...
9.) Tell us more about the songwriting and the recordings of your current CD.
The songs for "Fragments of a Withered Dream" have been written during a little more than a year. We don't consider ourselves to be really fast in the writing process and actually one of the songs took more than 3 months to complete before we fully were satisfied. And we would never finish a song which we aren't 100% satisfied with just because we don't feel like changing it again and again. When all the music had been completed, we went to "Aabenraa studiet" and recorded and mixed everything in 10 days, so we were under quite a time pressure but it ended up being just as much time as we needed. After having recorded "Fragments of a Withered Dream" we started working on the cover and artwork with Travis Smith (Katatonia, Opeth...). This is finally done and we are very satisfied with the way it has turned out. Right now we're finishing the final layout stuff and we hope that the album will be released in August, maybe September.
10.) What do you expect from this CD (sales, degree of fame etc)?
Hmmm, that sure is a tricky question... Of course we hope that many people will appreciate what we do and so far I must admit that our music has been better received than I had ever thought so why shouldn't it continue to go that way? At least we are very satisfied with how the album has turned out, both regarding the compositions themselves, the production and the artwork. Of course we don't expect to become In Flames or Cradle right away and I'd say that it's very difficult to guess how many copies we are going to sell but let's see. There's nothing else to do than go for it and then just hope for the best.
11.) How did you finance the recordings?
Lost Disciple Records gave us a sum of money for the recording session but as we chose to spend a little more time in the studio, we skipped in a little extra. But it's actually quite cheap to book the "Aabenraa-studiet" so the money was well spent.
12.) Where and how do you distribute the CD?
Lost Disciple Record is collaborating with major distributors from all over the world so it should be possible to get the cd, no matter where in the world you live.
13.) Are you in contact with record labels?
As I mentioned earlier, we have signed a record deal with Lost Disciple Records for two full-length albums. Before we did that, we had also received some offers from a couple of other record companies but we found that Lost Disciple was the best suited label for us.
14.) What are your lyrics dealing with?
On the demo-cd the lyrics were written as a connected story about a person who becomes insane after having experienced a huge sorrow. The lyrics on "Fragments of a Withered Dream" mainly deal with themes such as existential problems, self-deception and broken illusions. These themes are treated from different angles in the lyrics which also differ regarding the style and the composition. Especially the illusory aspect is present throughout the album, also in the title which we have chosen as we consider each of the songs / lyrics to represent a part ("fragment") of a person's once compound and promising dream, which has now withered.
15.) Do you have more finished songs? Do you already have plans for the next recordings?
By now we have more or less finished three new songs for the next album and three more are already on the way. We hope that we can be ready to record the next album sometime in the summer next year, but we would like to write enough songs so that we can pick and choose the best suited material.
16.) Do you regularly play live? Tell us more about your gigs.
It's been a while now since we have played any concerts as we have focused on writing new material. By doing it that way, we will be a 100 % ready to play live when the "Fragments..." are out to promote the album the best possible way. When playing live we try to deliver the most energetic show possible as that gives both ourselves and the audience the best experience. There's nothing worse than going to a metal concert where all members of the band just stand there and play their music without any energy. No, I think it's all about running around on the stage and really letting the energy out. Hmm, that's easy to say for me as the drummer: I can just sit on my ass and concentrate on playing, haha!
17.) What has been your biggest musical achievement / success so far?
There are two things that fall into my mind. The one of them is, of course, signing the record deal with Lost Disciple Records and the other one is our performance at the "Kloften Festival" here in Denmark. That was a really great experience as it was that of our shows with the most audience and they were just bursting out energy the entire time.
18.) How can you be reached in the internet?
You can find our website on http://www.composmentis.dk and our emailaddress is firstname.lastname@example.org. We have also uploaded some music to mp3.com (www.mp3.com/composmentis), both from the demo and from the debut album.
19.) Is there anything else you want to mention?
I actually can't think of anything else but I would like to thank you for the interview and I sure hope that some of the readers have become interested in Compos Mentis. If so, please check out our music on mp3.com and let us know what you think.
20.) What are your plans for the near future?
After the release of the album we will surely focus on playing as many concerts as possible. We have contacted a booking bureau to make it easier for us to get gigs (outside Denmark) but let's just see how things turn out. Keep an eye out for Compos Mentis, however ...