Compos Mentis

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Compos Mentis
TylerM composmentis 01.jpg
Background information
Origin Silverstream
Years active 1983-87
Associated acts Gotham City, Nazgul, One Less Customer for the Butcher, TAB, Flesh D-Vice
Past members Craig, Heather, Grant, Simon Gotlieb, Ben, Sean, David A. (guitar), Peter Stitt, David Clark (guitar), Tim (guitar)


Influenced by overseas bands such as Crass, Discharge and Chaos UK, Compos Mentis wrote politically charged songs that critiqued both mainstream New Zealand and the cliquey factions within the alternative music scene. Described by Simon Cottle of Anti-System zine as “New Zealand's ultimate political thrash band” Compos Mentis lasted for a good half of the 1980s at a time when a more politicised punk scene was emerging in Wellington.

Compos Mentis began life in 1982 as the short lived Destructive Adolescents, a teenage punk band from the Hutt Valley suburb of Silverstream, formed by Craig and David A.. After the D.A's vocalist quit Peter Stitt and Heather joined the band playing their first gig at Craig's work Christmas do. By all accounts this went down with the largely older audience like a bucket of cold sick and they were forced to stop after a few songs.

Shortly after this the band changed it's name to World War III for a brief period before opting for Compos Mentis which translates from Latin as “of sound mind”. Following this Peter left the band due to personality differences and Ben and Sean were recruited into the band briefly. At this time two other members, Simon and Grant, of Hutt Valley band Gotham City joined.

The input from these two new members led to a tighter musical direction for the band and during 1986-1987 Compos Mentis released three 7” singles, a tape compilation of early work dating back to 1984 and appeared on a number of compilations.

Compos Mentis were a central band in the emergence of an openly politicized anarcho-punk scene that emerged in the 1980s. Songs such as Run for Shelter railed against Nazi-punks while Patricia Bartlett is an inspired rant against Lower Hutt's then self-appointed leader of the 'moral majority'. The band were also active in producing their own zine, Communicade.

In 1988 after playing solidly in Wellington and out of town for the last couple of years Compos Mentis split due to ongoing tensions within the band. Dave and Craig went on to form Nazgul while Simon formed TAB, and joined Vas Deferens in 2013.

Compos Mentis had no support band, so the gigs started quite late, by which time reasonable crowds had turned up, consisting mainly of “hard-cores” and skins. Compos Mentis' songs may sound fast on tape, but live they were even faster, sparking off some wild dancing, which was slightly rough, but fun all the same. With such excellent lyrics, it's a pity the vocals weren't clear ( better the second night), still, the sheer energy made up for that. The band played amazing long sets, including material off their new EP and even a Crass cover. They were sweating like crazy, but managed to continue by rotating drummers, singers and guitarists. Low points were the filth sniffing around, some jerk yelling at Heather, and someone being knocked over by a grapple, but over-all it was two excellent nights of NZ punk thrash. Simon Cottle, Anti-System No. 3
Compos Mentis


Compos Mentis: 1.Chase Corpse, 2:Patricia Bartlett, 3. Bull Shitters


Tape Releases

EPs & Singles


  • Death Pays All Debts, 1988, Battery Hen Cassettes, Tracks: 1.
  • Oversea Connection, 1987, Double A Records (Germany), Tracks: 1.Rockstars
  • The Harder The Edge The Rocka The Roll, 1986, Hard Edge Records, Tracks: 1.Confused, 2.Run For Shelter
  • Rising From The Ashes Vol.2, 1986, tape, Track: 1.Up For Election