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Interview: White Fence

Since 2010, Tim Presley has released five solo albums as White Fence, one collaborative album with Ty Segall, a live cassette, and a handful of singles on Woodsist, Castelface and Drag City records. They’re all cigarette burned bedroom bangers, kaleidoscopic rock and roll with swagger and hooks. We were stoked at the chance to talk to him about his new ‘studio’ album.

A lot has been made about this being a production step up for you, Pitchfork going as far as dubbing it you “first non-bedroom LP” - How does that ring with you? Does it feel like you’ve changed gear?
I guess technically it’s non-bedroom. but really it was made in a garage, then dumped onto 2” tape in a studio. It was sort of big deal to put my trust in someone else’s hands, but that was the idea. I made 5 records in my room, so I wanted to try a different method this time around. I wanted to see how shit sounded wearing a different dress.

Were you anxious about how it would effect the sound you’ve cultivated to date?
Nah. I know what I’m doing.....I think.

For sure! ha ha. We agree. Does the album sound like how you’d expected it to in your head? Did the process of working/ collaborating with other people surprise you in the ultimate end product?
Maybe I know what the end result should be, but I try to leave as much open as possible. the more room for improve, mistakes, and off the cuff moments are the most important to me. For a good amount of the songs, I did not dictate too much to Ty or Nick. I wanted to leave that space open or them. sometimes i feel like Nick can read my mind. He is the type of drummer who pays attention to vocals. I could play him 10 seconds of a song and he already knows how it ends.

The past eighteen months have seen quite a ‘psychedelia’ boom. Do you feel part or it? What genre do you feel part of?
That might be a UK thing now. right? I don’t really feel that here. I remember a wave of that in the US in the mid 2000’s. but blogs didn’t give a fuck then. I think all rock n roll will boom in different forms forever. The only thing that will survive is honest music on record, not bushy hair and paisley shirts. Not sure where i fit in all this. Am I even on the radar?

Previous reviews have referenced the Nuggets compilations as inspirations in your work. I sensed a distinctly more anglophile jangle. Who has directly influenced your work?
Yes, all that stuff is cool...British or American. I think early on, Skip Spence made me want to be more personal with songs, and The Pretty Things made me want to be different. but really, I think you respond creatively with your surroundings and social tribe. I think my friends and peers hold a large percentage of influence on me. That, and.. I just want to be Magic Sam. but yeah, I don’t know what’s up with the anglophile thing. I guess I can’t help it. I have no idea where that comes from. I don’t even like spotted dick. My great grandparents came from Ireland. Maybe that’s it. Maybe there’s a little Irish ghost in me. I hate myself right now, does that count?

Totally off topic, but i’ve just been really turned onto Michael Nesmith. Any gems you’ve found this year?
I don’t know who that is. is that Lady Gaga’s boyfriend?

- He was in the Monkees.
- Oh, ok. um...gems. I dunno. i’ve just been reading truly tasteless joke books.

For all the sunshine in the production, it feels like a sad album to me. Did I get that totally wrong?
Yeah, I suppose it is a sad album now that you mention it. I’m a fucking bummer dude. As long as there’s a sad bone in my body, I will make music.

You have obviously worked together before, but how was recording with Ty? What does he bring to the room?
He brings genuine enthusiasm. Also, we agree on everything, sonically. He usually brings wonton soup to the room.

Love your sleeve. Who painted it?
I did. Thank you very much!