The music of Thom Wasluck is difficult to explain. To put it as simply as possible, the Planning For Burial mastermind specializes in a kind of blackened slowcore that incorporates a healthy dose of shoegaze. But explaining it through genre feels like a fool’s errand. Let’s try this: Planning For Burial exists in grayscale with brief touches of reds and purples. It’s the kind of blurry introspective music perfect for being engulfed by the fog or finding yourself in a candlelit basement during a power outage. It’s defining characteristic is the perpetual balance between massiveness and delicateness.
Wasluck first introduced the metal underground to his brand of gloom back in 2010 with the brooding debut Leaving. He later followed it up with 2014’s Desideratum. For the third album, Bellow the House, Wasluck returned to his childhood home in Pennsylvania. The album was shaped by coming full circle and realizing that the place where he recorded his first four track tapes may not be what it once was.
I sat down over the internet with Wasluck. We gritted our teeth, rolled up our sleeves and got down to the bottom of Below the House, consciousness, and Meryl Streep.
What affect did returning to your childhood home have on the writing process for Below the House?
It feels very isolating here so I had more time to really focus on writing and working on music.
Taking into consideration the backstory for the album, the title “Below the House” seems like it may carry some emotional weight. What’s the significance of that title?
The title comes from some notes I wrote about a dream I had. It’s about feeling like you’re hiding your true self/feelings deep down from everyone.
The album was recorded in the mountains of Pennsylvania and the album artwork features a suburban neighborhood covered in snow against a grey sky. It fits “Whisky & Wine” perfectly. Does the music on Below the House revolve solely around your thoughts and emotions or did the environment influence it as well?
I think the music usually revolves around my thoughts and feelings at any given time and then I try to match some sort of imagery up with it. The album cover is actually a shot from one of my friend’s neighborhood in Columbus OH, a place I do like to play a lot and visit because of my friends there.
Your music tends to feel immense yet intimate. Is that a quality you strive for or does it happen naturally?
As I don’t actually put a whole lot of thought into what I’m doing until it’s already done and I’ve had time to absorb it all, but something I’ve thought about in the last few years is that I like to do minimalism by way of maximalism which I guess is a oxymoron. I like playing shows that are more DIY where you have that connection with the audience, so I do thrive on more intimate moments.
What do you hope listeners take away from Below the House?
I just hope people enjoy it, really.
If Planning For Burial was one of Meryl Streep’s many powerhouse roles, which one would it be?
Not that I actually think of Planning For Burial as this role but her as Madeline Ashton from Death Becomes Her just because I remember my older sister watching it all the time as a kid so it’s her most memorable role for me.
Kill, marry, bang: The collected works of Ayn Rand, Scott Pruitt as he haphazardly dumps plastic water bottles and an assortment of fossil fuels into the ocean while swatting every bumble bee in sight, the electoral college
Kill: Scott Pruitt, Bang: The Electoral Collage, marry: the works of Ayn Rand, it’d be like an arranged marriage, though, as I actually never really looked into her work before so I know next to nothing.
How do you know you experience consciousness the same way everyone else experiences consciousness?
I’m not sure any of us are experiencing the same consciousness.
Was there a second shooter or did Oswald act alone?
I have sat on the grassy knoll every single time I have gone to Dallas and thought a lot about this, there was definitely a second shooter. Bullets don’t move back and to the left.
You’re walking down the street and happen upon Richard Spencer and his unsuspecting face. What is your course of action?
Strike hard and fast making sure he makes it to the ground where I can continue having the upper hand.
While working on Below the House, Thom Wasluck was listening to:
The discographies of PJ Harvey and Mount Eerie/The Microphones, Stars of the Lid, And You Will Know Us by the Trail Of Dead
Below the House is out on March 10. Preorder it through The Flesner.