Narrative garage-rock luminaries, Wormburner recently released Pleasant Living in Planned Communities via DIVE Records. IMPOSE calls Pleasant Living in Planned Communities, “A rich array of narratives and tales from life’s frontlines” and Diffuser says, “Chock full of the indie rock we miss and still love from the ’80s — you know, R.E.M., the Replacements and the like — the new album is a must-spin for 2014.” We couldn’t say it any better.
Recorded in too many locations to name, Pleasant Living in Planned Communities bristles with heightened urgency and the performances elevated courtesy of guest appearances by ace guitarists Sean Eden (Luna) and Paul Carbonara (Blondie).
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Wormburner’s Hank Henry to discuss the album. This is what he shared about it.
When did you begin writing the material for your most recent album?
The first songs probably started to take shape shortly after the release of our sophomore album, Placed by the Gideons. But a lot of them were just fragments and sketches and unfinished ideas. I don’t think it was until 2012 that we actually played any of the new songs onstage. That’s how we try out new material. We tend to put a song structure together in the rehearsal studio and then take it for a test-drive onstage.
What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing? Why was it so troublesome?
Definitely the song called “Somewhere Else To Be.” It’s hard to say why it was so troublesome. But we tried it out a lot of different ways, and we shelved it many, many times over the course of recording the album. It was damn-near orphaned entirely until the final week before the album was due. Then one night in the studio I think we accidentally started playing it in the wrong key. And it finally just gelled.
Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?
“Made-for-TV Movie” started off as an attempt to write something that sounded like a Smithereens song. I grew up in New Jersey, and The Smithereens were a beloved local band that was starting to break out into more of a national spotlight. The song “Made-for-TV Movie” has elements of The Smithereens in its structure and its downtrodden protagonist, but in the end I think it came out sounding more like a Thin Lizzy song.
Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?
Yep. Sean Eden from Luna played guest guitar on “Parliaments on Sundays” and Paul Carbonara from Blondie played guest guitar on “Drinks at the Plaza Hotel”.
Who produced the record? What input did that person have that changed the face of the record?
There’s actually not a named producer on this record per se. We produced it ourselves as a band in collaboration with Jamie Muffett who engineered the record and Tommy Allen who mixed it. The fingerprints of both Jamie and Tommy are all over the record.
Is there an overarching concept behind your new album that ties the record together?
There’s a variety of protagonists in the songs on this album, a number of whom are soldiers returning home from war. I don’t think I really set out to write a concept album about PTSD, but stories like these are all over the news and I tend to gravitate toward them for some reason.
Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?
These songs have been the centerpiece of our live shows since the record came out a couple months ago. I’ve personally been surprised by the enthusiasm for “Drinks at the Plaza Hotel.” It felt like a gamble the first time we opened a show with that song. But people really seem to dig it.
(Visit Wormburner here: http://www.wormburnerband.com/.)