Planning For Burial: “I’m trying to do things all the time that make me happy at least.”

Thom Wasluck is the sole architect behind the strikingly beautiful, deeply doom-ridden music of Planning For Burial. For over a decade, he has been releasing material that explores the shadowy, grey areas of life through an often droning, always innovatively dark filter. Below the House explores a varying forest of sounds that range from grating metal to ambient noise that reflect the ups and downs of his own life. We talked to Wasluck about the sonic range of his new record, his penchant for gloom and his most essential gear.

Whiskey and Wine” is completely different than anything else on the record, especially vocally. What about that song made it so much heavier?
I think at the time when I actually wrote it, musically I was really bored with my live show and I wanted to do something a little different and do something that was a little more exciting for me to play live. I think that’s where it came from originally. What’s funny is that I haven’t played that song live in a long time now.

So it isn’t a new song for this album–it was a live song that you recorded?
Yes and no. All of the songs on the album I’ve been playing for a while already, it’s just that I kind of road test things all the time.

Then, a few tracks later, “Warmth Of You” goes off into an upbeat direction. I don’t want to say the word “pop”, because it’s not pop, but it’s a song that you could sing along to. What inspired that sound?
Again, it comes down to, in 2015 or so, I was just really bored with all the songs I was playing from Desideratum and I just wanted to do something different live that felt a little more like a song and got to get a little more upbeat. A lot of it stems from wanting to make my live show more interesting for myself to play, because the songs from Desideratum I was playing for years before I even recorded them.

Where Quietly was on the slower, more somber side throughout, this record has a good balance of alt-rock and gloomy soundscapes. When you were recording, did you have any intentions for the overall sound of this album?
No. When I’m usually writing a record I’m not actually writing a record. It’s just kind of me working on songs and then, as things start coming together, you know, when songs start getting kind of close, then I start planning, like, “How does this song go into this one?” I start forming stuff after I have songs already written. There was a bunch of stuff I wrote and recorded from the record that I just ended up not finishing or not using.

It’s more just piecing songs together and not trying to write a huge story.
Right. It’s piecing songs. There are older songs that use the same lyrics and stuff, but I decided I didn’t like those songs, but I like a lyric so I use that with something else and vice versa.

What is it about brooding, droning sounds that arise a lot in your music that attracts you to them?
I would say it’s almost a like a meditation type of thing. It’s like when monks are chanting and stuff–it’s because they get locked in that rhythm and it becomes a meditation. I think that’s why I like using a lot of looping and stuff that does that. You get locked into it.

Your lyrics tend to be on the darker side and, seemingly, very personal. How do you transfer the emotion of your lyrics into the instrumentals?
Hmm, that’s a good one. I don’t spend as much time on the lyrics as I do other things, so sometimes I think maybe the instrumentals, a lot of times, come first. I’ll be working on something in a room or something, just looping something at a part or I’ll have a pretty basic structure down to work on and I just kind of start singing some words and going from there. Whatever comes to me.

Having released so much music over the years, how do you keep yourself from being repetitive and doing things that you’ve already done?
Man, these are good. [laughs] It is something I worry about often. I’ll catch myself doing some things and I’ll be like, “Aw, I kind of did this on this track already.” I guess knowing I might be doing it helps me change things up. I try to go back and forth some times between the more quieter stuff and the more droning, gloom stuff. I think that’s why, you even said, that “Warmth Of You” is probably the most pop-y song I’ve done. I’m trying to do things all the time that make me happy at least. If it’s something I feel like I’ve done too many times structurally, I’ll just abandon it. I won’t work on it.

Do you think your location change had any effect on your music?
Yeah, I think I have more time to spend on it now. When I was living in Jersey, I had my own life there and everything. I had my friends, I used to go do things all the time and moving back where I grew up… I don’t keep in contact with anybody I really knew back then and I don’t really talk to any of the people I work with so I’m just home all the time.

Do you think that made this album better? Did it give you more time to go in detail and work?
Yeah, and I like to tell a lot of people I feel like I just kind of puked up Desideratum. I’d just record the songs, didn’t do much editing or much production work to them. But that’s fine. It’s a very clear statement of my life at the time, which is it felt kind of like a wreck, whereas this one I decided to be a little more meticulous and work on the production.

What piece of gear on your pedalboard is the most essential to you?
I would say the Big Muff. It’s just my overdriven sound. I get a long sustain from it. I own a couple of them just because if any of them break I’ll have extras. I’m starting to get a little nuts now with gear where I will start buying doubles of things. Sitting in the basement like, “Oh, this is a double of this pedal or a double of this amp just in case!

You have a few shows planned for this year, but I assume you’re going to do a tour behind this album, right?
Right now, I would like to, but it’s really hard to plan my future the way my work is. The plan is to keep doing stuff around the Northeast when I can and I have an idea for four days out west again in May and then I’m finally going to go back to Europe. I think I’m really going to just push towards Europe this year.

Words: Teddie Taylor – Below The House is out now via The Flenser.
You can also read the interview here:

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