WHITE FENCE interview

By Alexander Laurence

WHITE FENCE is like a music junkshop of the past fifty years, created for people who like old vinyl records and gear. One person’s trash is the next person’s treasure. This Los Angeles based band, started by Tim Presley, has polished up the vile rags of music’s history, and offered a clean update on the state of rock and roll. White Fence has also recently collaborated with such diverse artists as Ty Segall, Cate Le Bon, Foxygen, Jessica Pratt, and The Fall. All these vital signposts are part of the new revolution in music and technology. Modern garage rock music is not about reality, or the state of LA music, but a new way of seeing things as they should be.

AL: How was the transition from the band Darker My Love to White Fence?

Tim: Something had to change. In the mid-to-late 2000s, a lot of the psychedelic and shoegaze bands were repeating themselves creatively speaking. We stripped it down of all the excess. If you look at bands from the 1960s, people couldn’t relate to the weirder one, or the more normal one. It just happened that way because of the music climate happening in Los Angeles. We toured on that third album and people freaked out. But I have met people who liked the third album and didn’t like Darker My Love before that.

AL: The Ramones did the same thing for 30 years.

Tim: They had a formula and it worked. We didn’t have a huge fanbase like them. If it worked for us like that, we would have just done the formula. We were more like the Beau Brummels. They were doing Beatles-like music, and garage rock. At the end, they did Bradley’s Barn, which is like a country rock record. That is the one I like.

AL: How did White Fence start?

Tim: I did the songs on the first White Fence record during the same time as the second and third Darker My Love records. I was recording it at home. I didn’t think the dudes from Darker My Love would like the songs. I was just doing songs because it was therapeutic for me. I wasn’t too worried about anyone liking it.

AL: Around the same time you joined the Fall?

Tim: Yeah. Mark E. Smith had fired his band on the American tour. Rob Barbato and I met him in Arizona and practiced as The Fall for a day. We were able to finish the tour dates. After that, we just went into the studio and made a new album. Mark E. Smith said “We are going into the studio in three days.” And we were like “What?” Elena and Mark had three songs written. They hummed the songs to us and we came up with the chords. Mark claims to know how to play guitar, but I never saw him play.

AL: The Fall still plays some of the songs you wrote. The hardcore Fall fans like the song “Reformation.”

Tim: Definitely. The more we played them live, the better the songs got, and the more they sounded like actual Fall songs.

AL: When did White Fence start being your focus?

Tim: When the first record came out, I realized this was something I wanted to pursue. When someone wanted to put the album out, I thought that was weird. People liked it. I had the next one Growing Faith almost completed. When Eric from Make A Mess Records put the first record out, it felt like something I wanted to do. I liked making weird songs in my room. I love the band mentality, but White Fence was 180 from that.

AL: When did you move to Los Angeles?

Tim: I went to art school and didn’t know what to do with my life. I took a visit to LA, and stayed with Ozzie from Soiled Mattress and The Springs. He showed me a side of LA that I fell in love with. I thought that I could live here in LA, and I did in 2003. It was cosmic that I came here and formed a band. It happened very fast.

AL: You play all the instruments on the White Fence records?

Tim: Yes. Except the latest one that has Nick Murray and Ty Segall also playing on it. My main hang up with rock and roll and showbiz is a lack of creative studio time. It costs too much money. I had a dream of being like the Beatles or Beach Boys where you live in the studio and you experiment with stuff in the studio. We aren’t on a major label, so we don’t have the money to do that. The closest thing we can get to that is to do it at home and doing it alone, regardless of fidelity.

AL: For a long time bands would put an album out every two years, and tour on it. It seems like people like you and Ty Segall are coming out with 2 or 3 records a year.

Tim: There is a certain freedom with doing things from home. You can just do it yourself. For some people, it works. Releasing records is no problem. Having a cluster of shows and having to tour is a bigger problem. There is always a new member in White Fence, and I have to teach them all the songs again.

AL: Who is in the band now?

Tim: Nick Murray has been playing drums for a few years in White Fence. Josh Puklavetz plays bass guitar, and Cate Le Bon plays guitar and sings with me. She will be in the band.

AL: How did you do the Ty Segall “Hair” split record?

Tim: I met him outside a bar in San Francisco. He had heard to first White Fence records and he wanted to do a split record. I assumed we were going to do a few songs each, but it turned into a more collaborative thing.

AL: How did you become aware of Jessica Pratt?

Tim: I had met her. She lived with my brother in San Francisco. I knew she played music but I hadn’t heard any of it. She was very quiet and I hardly noticed her. And then, her boyfriend at the time sent me some of her music out of the blue. I put out her first record. My label isn’t my main concern at the moment. But I am trying to get the rights to a Gene Vincent record. It’s a record he did right before he died.

AL: You also played on the recent Foxygen record.

Tim: Yeah. Jonathan Rado called me and said “Come on over.” He had a studio in his parent’s house. We played “Brooklyn Police Station” really loud at night. It’s like the loudest song on the album. I think that I was banned from his parent’s house since then.

AL: What should people in Europe expect?

Tim: When you have different members, you get a totally different band. It will sound different because this is the first time Cate Le Bon has been with us in Europe. She had a tryout with us on some dates in the East Coast and the South of America. She knew a lot of songs by Lynyrd Skynyrd, and could solo a lot, so she passed the test. We also recorded a new record together. That will come out soon.

photos by Angel Ceballos