Answered by: Compos Mentis
Well, if you'd please start by telling a little about your background and the history of Compos Mentis so far...
We started around 1996, just some guys who had bought a guitar and had to find something useful to do with it, ha ha! Then we played some stuff together, covers and such, and it was Metallica we chose, as they were pretty cool at that time. But then Metallica released Load and Reload, and those weren't exactly cool, so we started listening more and more to stuff like Cradle of Filth and Dark Tranquillity and that sort of music, and the music we wrote ourselves changed and became more Death Metal orientated. In 1999 Bo (Damgård) joined the band on keyboards, and in 2000 we made our first demo, Quadrology Of Sorrow. The demo got a lot of positive respond and gained us a contract with Lost Desciple Records, and then in 2001 we recorded our debut album...which was released in January 2003, ha ha! Well, we're not the fastest band around...
Why did it take such a long time before it was released?
One of the reasons is that after we had finished the recordings, we had to find out what the cover should look like. None of us had been thinking about that at all, it's just like, you know, you buy a CD, open it and put it in the CD player...and not until then you notice the cover. So it was kind of difficult for us to figure out what cover art we wanted, so that took some time...And then when the cover art was finished, the record company was kind of slow too. I think it took them about a year to release it, after it was completely finished, because they wanted to release it simultaneously with some other album.
How has the respond been so far on Fragments Of A Withered Dream?
We've got a good deal of positive reviews, actually! The ratings have been something like 7, 8 or even 9 out of 10! And in Blackend we got 13 out of 15 and a lot of praise! Someone even said that it's the best release on Lost Desciple Records ever!!! That's a huge compliment. But our style is pretty different from the general style of Lost Desciple Records, which is more brutal, with bands like Pessimist.
What are your own feelings about the record when you look at it today...is there anything you would have liked to do differently or are you completely satisfied?
At the time we recorded it we did our absolute best! At this point we could probably do it in an even better way, but I guess you'll always think like that.
As a debut album, we're very satisfied with it!
What are your topics for the lyrics and do you have any specific messages or thoughts that you'd like to tell about in your lyrics?
Well, lyrics are probably the most annoying aspect of writing music in our opinion, so it's not like we have some huge concept or anything like that. But anyway, I think we got the lyrics on this album to focus a little on these "Fragments Of A Withered Dream" that became the title; this stuff about having some illusions that are being torn down by various things. But well, writing lyrics is something that just has to be done!
When we write songs, the only thing that counts is the music itself! We put a lot of work into creating atmospheres. The songs have to evoke a certain mood.
I would like to talk a little about your cover art next, made by Travis Smith, and looking very cool! I think it fits very well with the rest of the album. How did you get in contact with Travis Smith and was it your own idea to work with him?
We recorded with Jacob Hansen (famous Danish producer) and he have worked with a lot of people and had a lot of contacts, so he recommended us Travis Smith and some other guy whose name I don't remember. So we checked out some of the stuff these two guys had done and ended up agreeing that Travis Smith was the best! So we tried to contact him and he had a lot of ideas for the artwork, while we ourselves weren't completely sure what we wanted. But he's really good at giving suggestions and we ended up being very satisfied with the artwork!
A friend of ours, who also did the layout, Kim Nielsen, took the photos that are on the inside of the booklet.
How far have you gotten concerning writing material for the next album?
Well, pretty far. We have around 6 or 7 songs now. We think 8 songs are a little too few, as there is on the debut. Well, it's okay for a debut, but we'd like to reach ten or eleven tracks on the next record.
But we have a lot of ideas. We just need to get them together in the right way. We're pretty slow in writing a song because we discuss everything over and over, because we write everything together. In a lot of bands, it's typically the guitar player who says like, "hey I have a new song, play along!" In Compos Mentis, everybody come up with some riffs.
So, you're just jamming together until the song is finished...?
Exactly! Maybe it's not a typical way to do it, but we feel it's the only way for us to do it, in order to make all of us feel satisfied, also because we have so different musical backgrounds, inputs and ideas about how things should be done. This is also one of our big forces, I think!
Do you plan on having Jacob Hansen to produce your next album, as well as the first?
Yes! He's a very funny person and someone we feel good around. He's also very good at giving suggestions about sound issues and that's rather important when we don't have more experience than we do now...well, we're not completely inexperienced, but we have only recorded one album. Later on, maybe it will be easier for us to work with someone we doesn't necessarily get along with that well, who just does a great job.
Okay, on a final note I just want to ask you about your opinion on the Danish Metal scene in general and whether you think your biggest marked is here in Denmark. And finally, how much of an effort are you willing to put in it to get a breakthrough abroad?
I'd say that because we are on an American record label, we have a good possibility of getting out of the borders of Denmark. But at this level we have to concentrate a lot about Denmark, of course. Play a lot of gigs here and get some contacts. But, Western Europe, Italy and so forth, that'll be our next goal. A very cool thing in the long run would be to release something in Japan, because they have a big marked for exactly this kind of music we play. But here in the beginning it will be the closer marked, Germany could probably be cool as well.
The Danish scene holds a lot of quality! Lots of new bands are on the rise right now, as well as the old established ones who continue playing their music. We have a lot of new talent, so..., but I wouldn't say Denmark will be some sort of centre for Metal music, but I think that other countries will start taking more notice of Denmark, which of course is a huge advantage...!