Answered by: Andreas
Please state your name and position in Compos Mentis.
Hi there! I’m Andreas and I’ve been playing the drums in Compos Mentis since the beginning in 1996.
It’s been a while since you released your debut album, and the predecessor to Gehennesis. Please tell us what happened between the releases, and why it took the time it took, to get Gehennesis released?
When we recorded Fragments of a Withered Dream we still lived close to one another in Southern Jutland but shortly after the release, three of us had moved to Aarhus while Ryan moved to Esbjerg and Dan stayed in Haderslev, which of course slowed things down and we weren’t able to write new songs as fast as we would have liked to. In 2004 we recorded a promo with Jacob Hansen but when no labels were willing to offer anything acceptable, we decided to record a full-length instead and finance it ourselves. Therefore we visited Ziggy at his ZigZound-studio in the second half of 2005 and recorded Gehennesis but even though we loved the record, it turned out to be more difficult to find a suitable label than we had thought. Several parties were interested but some didn’t have any money or time, others wanted to remix the cd according to their preferences and maybe the most interesting label pulled out without an explanation after a long while of negotiating. In the end we decided to simply start our own label and release the album ourselves but then we found out that Mighty Music had risen again – and so here we finally are with the new album!
Please tell us about the process of recording Gehennesis? How did it differ from Fragments of a Withered Dream?
We were fairly well prepared as we had rehearsed a lot in the summer vacation prior to entering the studio but when recording Gehennesis during the fall of 2005 we were following our studies on the side so it was rather stressful. Furthermore Ziggy was a tough guy to work with as he kept pushing us to play even better than we thought we could but we are very grateful that he did and the result is as might be expected! When recording the debut with Jacob Hansen in 2001 we were all quite young (I for one was only 19) and in between the albums we have evolved a lot, both as composers, musicians and human beings, which is easy to hear if you compare the two records. This time around we had more time in the studio and made higher demands on ourselves, but also the debut was mainly recorded on analogue equipment whereas we only used digital equipment when recording Gehennesis. This enables you to focus on the details a lot more but it can both be a blessing and a curse, though, as you can sometimes become obsessed by some minor facet of the music.
What is the most important thing you learned as a musician during the process of recording Gehennesis?
By keeping our nose to the grindstone all the time, Ziggy taught us very much as regards listening to the music as a whole instead of focusing on your own instrument. In order to become any better you must first realize where you suck as it were, and I’d say that we are a far better band now than before we recorded the album!
How did you get your contract with Mighty Music and what made this label the right choice for your band?
As I said above, we had first planned to release Gehennesis ourselves and we met Michael (Target Distribution, Mighty Music) at Aalborg Metal Festival last year and talked to him about Target distributing the album for us. However, a few days later he mailed us and said that he and Bjarke had discussed it and that Mighty was ready to release the album for us instead. Of course this saved us a lot of work but it also felt good to be signed by a company run by people that you know and trust. Already now it seems that they will be able to do much more for us than our previous label.
What, if any, is the link between the title and the cover of Gehennesis? What does the title mean?
The title of the album is a wordplay on “Gehenna” and “genesis”, and the compound of the words can thus be seen to mean something like “the creation of your own Hell”. In certain interpretations Hell is nothing but the absence of God so if you take God to represent any form of systematism (religion, ideology, moral, scientific theories, etc.), Gehennesis means a state of mind in which you don’t succumb to these systems that try tell you how to live your life. The transition into this state of mind can be seen as a kind of mental rebirth and therefore we have chosen to illustrate the theme by having an adult foetus, covered in blood, on the cover.
It seems like you devoted much energy into the lyrics on your recent album. What are the views and experiences you want to get across to the listener with the lyrics on Gehennesis?
We hope to make people consider if they are truly living their life in accordance with their own values and views on life instead of being told how to behave by anyone or anything. It is not an encouragement to be “evil” or something like that but there are so extremely many factors that influence the way we all behave (just think of the media or the fashion industry as obvious examples) and to me it is scary that people at least don’t think about this circumstance.
You worked with Kor I Nord on a couple of tracks on Gehennesis. How did that cooperation come about and how do you feel it contributed to the tracks?
On the ’04 promo we had experimented with some choral elements in the music and as we would like to maintain these on the album, we invited some friends and musical students out to the studio to record the passages. However, after hearing the result we found out that we had to find a “real” choir in order to do justice to the music. Then we simply wrote an email to several choirs from Aarhus and it turned out that Kor I Nord was the only choir who could do the job fast enough. Personally, I think that the tracks in question have really gained a lot from this, which is not least due to Ryan’s clever vocal arrangements.
What are your expectations regarding the release of Gehennesis?
Of course we are all very anxious to see how the album is received as is probably the case for most musicians prior to the release of an album. On the other hand, however, we are confident that people will enjoy the album as it marks a big step up the ladder compared to our debut album and the reactions that we have gotten so far have also been overwhelming. I hope that this album will take us to the next level and make it possible for us to focus even more on the music in the future.
Spotlight has hit the Danish metal scene but it appears to be much focused on HateSphere, Volbeat and Raunchy. Success doesn’t strike at random. What must you sacrifice in order to achieve success?
There is no doubt that the bands you mention are among the best and hardest-working Danish metal bands right now but even though they are more or less the only ones to get through to the mainstream media, the metal community appreciates the several other great bands just as much, I think. And there’s no doubt that the work of such bands benefits all the rest of us as more Danes will be used to hearing metal and foreign countries have begun to turn their heads towards Denmark to see what’s going on up here.
What are your touring plans in support of Gehennesis?
Actually, we only have a few Danish dates planned right now but we hope to be able to hit the road in the fall to support the album (we’ll keep you posted on our website). Recently we were offered a European tour with a well-known foreign band but as Gehennesis is not released worldwide until June, we decided that it would be far better to wait it out promotion-wise.
What are you and the rest of the band members doing besides this band?
We are actually all students: Jesper is finishing his studies at the business college, Ryan is a student at the music academy, Dan at the college of education, Ken is taking a higher preparatory course, Rune is studying music and audio-design, and I will soon be returning to the faculty of philosophy after a few years with mathematics. And yeah, it’s not always easy to find room for both the music and the studies…
Feel free to add a last comment.
Well, thanks a lot for the interview, and thanks to you readers for going all the way through! In case you haven’t done so already, feel free to check out our Gehennesis-ecard, which you can find on our website, composmentis.dk. See you out there!