At night, when not performing as the guitarist for Darker My Love, and when not toiling away at his job as a graphic designer, Tim Presley makes music alone in his apartment under the alias White Fence, crafting a specific tone and atmosphere that evokes a mod/Kinks/punk hybrid. Recently, because of a peculiar coincidence, Presley put together a batch of songs and released his self-titled debut on vinyl from Make A Mess Records and on CD and digitally from Woodsist Records.
CL: What city are you based in?
Tim Presley: Los Angeles. Ive been living here seven years. Before that, it was bouncing between Berkeley and San Francisco.
Do you play all the instruments in White Fence?
Does LA inspire the album at all?
Yeah I think so. For one, LA is a weird place. Its full of pockets of strangeness. And also, well, I barely leave my apartment. I kind of just stay in. Really the overall thing, the cosmic thing, is because its sunny all the time I feel like I have some weird condition where Im really sensitive to that. For example, in San Francisco, I look back at it and even when I go there I feel foggy and I feel tired and cold. That doesnt really work for me because, I love San Francisco dont get me wrong, but it doesnt help me be motivated. It makes me lazy. For some reason here, it has nothing to do with trying to keep up with Hollywood or anything, or showbiz. Its sunny all the time and for some reason that effects my brain. I feel motivated, energized. I know it sounds weird but I think its true.
How did you come up with the name White Fence?
Theres a couple reasons, actually. One is a bit dangerous. I dont really want to talk about it too much; it is the name of a gang in Los Angeles. But I also thought of the opposite spectrum, that being behind a safe white picket fence, suburban, which can equally have its dangerousness and secretness. A paradox of the two. Its the yin yang of those two things I think. (Check out White Fence's "Mr. Adams" below.)
Is that what inspired the cover? Its a crude jailhouse tattoo collage.
I dont know. I think so. Anthony from Nodzzz, he showed me those and then we worked on the cover together.
Because its not like the paintings I saw on your blog.
No. And to be honest Im not a fan of tattoos at all. I kind of hate them. I thought they were cool, I saw them originally on business cards. I guess gangs used to use business cards in the '70s.
Did you find these in a book?
Theyre just a collection that someone found a bunch of these cards.
Are you going to be playing live shows more often?
Id like to. Ive gotten some offers to play shows but its kind of hard because the band that played only played three shows with my brother, who is in Nodzzz, his roommate Moe, and my friend Joe. Joe lives in LA, and Moe and Sean live in San Francisco. So its kind of tricky. I guess theres going to have to come a time when I pick an all Los Angeles chapter of White Fence. I like playing, but thats also the beauty of White Fence, is I dont have to if I dont want to. Whereas Dark My Love is a full-on machine where we play shows, we record, we tour. Its kind of nice to be able to say no.
How long did it take to make the White Fence album?
Its a collection of songs I did in my room for the past two years.
This is what you do in your off hours, when you werent touring or working?
Thats basically what I do at night. Instead of going to a bar. Whether this record had come out or not I would have just still done it anyway. Not the record, but I wouldve just been making songs anyway. My brother and I are always sharing what we do. Hell send me some weird demo that he did and Ill do the same. He came to Los Angeles to hang out, or maybe Nodzzz was playing I dont know, and wanted to hear what I was working on. And I did and he really enjoyed it and wanted me to make him a CD of it. He took it back to San Francisco and was playing it in his car and Nodzzz old drummer is this guy Eric [Butterworth], he has a record label called Make A Mess and he wanted to put it out. Thats how it happened.
You didnt change it all?
No, it didnt change at all. There were a couple things that I tweaked in the mix, because I needed to fix a few little things. But yeah it was pretty much untouched. Its a weird thing where its something thats 100% true with no pretense at all. I never expected it to come out so I never had any weird notion that I have to make it sound like this or a certain way. It was 1000% organically made, with no pretense of it ever going to come out on a label, or anyone to even hear it. In that respect I think its this Immaculate Conception in a way. It was never thought about.
Are the new songs in the same style?
Yeah. Its the same recording process, the same zone, yeah. White Fence is Growing Faith.
For the new record, are you just going to record 15 songs and thatll be the new record, or do you think you will take a little more time or care?
I have about 18 songs and thats way too much for an LP. Its too long. So Im in the process of trimming it down, and its really hard to do.
Are those leftover songs going to end up on a 7?
I dont know. Jeremy [Earl] from Woodsist Records was saying maybe do a bonus CD or a bonus digital release.
I dont mean to put my two cents in but I hope that whatever you release, its all vinyl.
Oh definitely. The CD was an afterthought. I never expected to do a CD. But Make A Mess put out the record and I thought cool, its done. Because I dont like CDs really. Anyone that would know about White Fence would probably prefer to buy the vinyl anyway. Which I strongly agree with. Ive listened to them on both formats and it changes it. But I feel like the way it was done, vinyl is the best thing for it. So Eric [Butterworth] put it out and then Jeremy contacted me and asked about putting it out on CD and digital and I said ok. But I actually had a hard time about that because I wasnt sure if that was going to ruin something of it.