interview: White Fence

[photo credit: Ruthie Swanson]

is the moniker of one Tim Presley, master multitasker and purveyor of a sinister brand of flower power music that hisses and pops with the joyful lopsidedness of a four-track recorder. When he is not recording as White Fence in his Echo Park bedroom, Presley tours with the Strange Boys and Darker My Love. He has also served a stint in The Fall and recorded on their record Reformation Post TLC, the influential English band’s 26th studio album. White Fence played Saturday at The Smell (teaser below, filmed by George Augusto) with Ty Segall, Audacity, and Crazy Band in preparation for their trip up to Big Sur this weekend to perform the second day of the immediately-sold out Woodsist Fest (Tim’s live band includes his brother, Sean Paul Presley of Nodzzz). Recently, Tim had a chance to wax philosophically with us about New York City, Black Flag and Highlights magazine.


Reading your views on how Los Angeles has informed your music, down to the random acts of violence, reminds me of an interview New York Magazine did with Angus Andrew of the Liars where he discussed ways LA “disturbed” him. “It’s got to do with the idea that people are in their cars and they feel safe, and then the actual landscape that they’re traveling through is pretty much left untouched … there’s a massive stream of homeless people, and downtown is kind of their world.” How much of that aligns with your personal view?  

I’m disturbed that he’s disturbed. Doesn’t he live in LA and fuck girls here? It’s a little cliche to talk about the plastic, Botox world of Los Angeles when it’s just as bad in New York. Everyone’s afraid to talk shit on New York, but I will. That place is just as fucking lame as anywhere else in the US. I was just in Brooklyn weeks ago and everyone looks the same. It’s one giant college campus of cool people. I even saw a old dusty very homeless lady with Vans chukka boots. It makes me want to dress like a priest, and then become one. At least in LA it’s so spread out that I don’t have to see such a high concentration. Los Angeles is such an easy scapegoat, so when white-Indie Rock people talk about it negatively, especially about the obvious things, I get defensive.  Don’t get me wrong — I like Liars and appreciate what they do. I’m just venting on a bigger picture here. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and was raised to hate LA until a friend showed me a great and beautiful side with genuine, amazing people. Also there is so much here. It’s very big. We have helicopters.

You’ve been a big proponent of the burgeoning music movement in LA and White Fence is certainly on the forefront of that. What would you say are the biggest differences between the bands in San Francisco and the sounds of the Echo Park scene? You have a unique view, having been enmeshed in both worlds.

I don’t know if LA really has a “sound” now, but there are cool bands/artists that vary [across] the spectrum. SF is good. I can honestly say that I love bands from SF at this moment. But we need each other — the SF/LA [dynamic]. It’s like brothers. The back and forth. Good and bad. I dunno. I will say, because SF is geographically tighter it helps with that energy. Plus they know what the sun feels like. We don’t because we live on it.

“Is Growing Faith” came out at the beginning of this year and is the Woodsist-released follow up to your self-titled record. In what ways is your new record different than your first?
It has a mini-concept of growing faith. Which is, in yourself and not Nick Cave. Paint if you’re a painter. Do it a lot.
Many of your peers [Nodzzz, Thee Oh Sees] have played in hardcore bands before current projects. Is this a coincidence? Is there a musical “incubation” involved with the hardcore/punk scene that carries over for artists and their future endeavors?
Well in a way it’s like the 60/70’s generation being influenced by 50’s rock n roll. Some probably played in a Little Richard-sounding band growing up. Do you understand? We grew up on different types of hard fast loud weird music. It spoke to us honestly. There’s no coincidence. We fall in love just like anybody else does. You can’t help who or what you love. Like with absolutely no pretense or peer pressure at all as a kid, I happened to (life changing-ly) love “Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie” by Black Flag (Keith Morris version always and forever) and previously I was into Hendrix and Bob Marley. So what does that tell you? It just happens man. For men, music is a female. Unless of course you’re a gay man and then music is a male…etc…

What to you constitutes the perfect pop song?

“The Humpty Dance” (by the Digital Underground). Totally off the topic, but what if you got sent to prison and on your second night your cellmate dosed you with hi-grade speed. Wouldn’t that be just awful?! Think about it.

One tour highlight that is most visible in your memory thus far?

Swimming in a lake in Pennsylvania with the Strange Boys on a hot day after a noble game of whiffle ball. Inside jokes are a highlight. Reading Highlights magazine in the dentist office is nice too. I usually enjoy Goofus and Gallant.

How rad is this year’s Woodsist lineup? Seems to be booked with some bands that are on the cusp of doing great things.

Yes, Jeremy Earl (Woods/Woodsist) is awesome for putting it on. He himself is doing great things. I am very happy to be a part of it.


Tim Presley


White Fence plays the second day of this year’s Woodsist Fest (sold out!) in support of a stacked lineup (including a sub-in from the Mantles, who were added to the bill in place of the recently-dissolved Art Museums) before heading south on a multi-stop tour w/ Woods and Ducktails that ends at the Bowery Ballroom in New York 8/13. “Is Growing Faith” can be picked up directly from Woodsist via mail-order here and digitally from iTunes here. White Fence’s 7″,  released on the heels of “Growing” and entitled “Harness b/w The Pool”, can be purchased from Afterlife Records (housed in the eponymously-named boutique store on 988 Valencia) or digitally.

White Fence // “Lillian (Wont You Play Drums?)”

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