Pic ©Angel Ceballos
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So it's still before this wonderful show of the 10th of last december that we had the chance to meet the Californian Tim Presley aka White Fence, by himself, this time. This night, we had our eyes, our ears, our hearts blasted by a way more than generous performance.
It is not a secret that he wasn't ever really far from us, or the other way around.
We first were introduced to Tim in 2010 through numerous enterprises. His first album under the name of White Fence (Make a mess Records), sort of an UFO album we fell in love with right away. Scratching its lo-fi crust we were soon to meet his universe abounding with ideas, beautiful songs, sincerity and infinite richness. It is well rare to listen to such a musician that can give this kind of consistency and colour to the sound as he can.
This same year, he also came out with an album with his other, more known, band Darker my Love, the underrated Alive as you are. He also gave more than a hand to his friends, The Strange Boys, on Be Brave.
A few collaborations later, he confirmed with Is Growing Faith (2011, Woodsist), an album that became a classic in no more than two years. Then came the Family Perfume 1&2 (2012, Woodsist), some psychedelic walk around, however accurately aware, and Hair (2012, Drag City) with Ty Segall which, as you could have figured, couldn't be anything else but one of our favorite albums.
In the meantime, Tim finds the time to raise a label (Birth records) under which he recently signed Jessica Pratt and her beautiful first album. But today he also took the time to answer our questions. This is the third and the final part of our interview in three acts: White Fence, The Fall and the rise.
(Part I here, Part II here)
x White Fence is really linked to Los Angeles isn’t it?
Tim: There is a gang called White Fence, one of the oldest gang in LA. In fact, they’re the first latino gang. In the 20’s, all the emigrants were in a gang, like jewish, irish, mexican, all in a same gang. And then White Fence was the first to be all latino.
Historically they were first punk rockers in a way. Like in the 30’s, 40’s they were big in the Zoo Suit thing, which was a kind of “Fuck You” against American society. They didn’t join the navy and they were dressed a little wild. This was kind of like the Mohawk movement in the 90’s (Oka crisis).
I read a lot about the gangs, I’m really into it, the history of them and just like culture. Especially the older ones like in New York with the Five Points Gang in the 1800’s… it’s really interesting…
As we talked about that with Guillaume from The Feeling Of Love, White Fence is also kind of this juxtaposition between the gang life which is very violent, bad and evil. But there is like a kind of very strong bond, family oriented bond and love.
Whereas there is the typical 50’s style white American picket fence in the suburbs, with wealthy families, mom, dad, children, nice house, money... Sometimes, it looks perfect but inside of it, it can be evil with hurtful and mean people.
So it’s like this kind of Yin Yan of these things. I thought that was interesting.
x You seemed to already have several musical life till now… how do you see it?
Tim: It’s all really different, you know like, Darker My Love is a band, with everyone, like a snake with five heads… me and Rob Barbato as songwriters. For The Strange Boys, I wasn’t a full time member so it’s just like a fun thing to do and help. The Fall is the same thing. The Nerve Agents was (laughs) the first one, and that was just fun, kids just fucking going crazy kind of thing…
White Fence is completely 100% me, that’s the only difference. The recording, writing, putting all together, it’s just me.
x What about Darker My Love?
T: Well, we’ve done it for so long and we toured extensively… We just kind of like have a big break or hiatus or something. It’s not over like we’re not broken up. It’s just that for now I wanna do what I’m doing with White Fence and they have things that they’re doing.
They’re currently playing with Cass McCombs. Actually Cass McCombs’ band at one point was all the members of Darker My Love except for me (laughs)…
So you know, everyone’s doing their own thing, trying different things and sometimes it feels good to do others things.
Could you talk about your relation with legendary Mark E Smith as you played with his mythic The Fall? (Tim and Rob Barbato from Darker My Love were take on by Mark E Smith for a US tour and a record, Reformation Post TLC).
T: I just talked to him the other day. They were on tour so we tried to connect and hang out but it was like they’re going this way, we’re going this way… so we’re still friends.
Because you did a tour in the US lately, didn’t you?
T: No, the tour in America was in 2006 or 2007. But I came back here last November (2011) for a month, and did like 10 shows.
x How does it work between young musicians like you (and Rob from Darker My Love), with Mark E Smith who have a special reputation?
T: Well it was natural for me because I grew up with punks and stuff like that. Rob didn’t but he’s very professional and Mark likes professional so it just clicked.
Actually, at the first show we were playing, I was like “ Oh thank you so much” like I was such a big fan or whatever… And he was like “Enough of the fucking asskissing, go fucking soundcheck!” I was like “Oh shit!” (laughs) so ever since that day, the first day, I was like, oh I’m not gonna say anything like that again. But we became friends and that’s cool.
I think he liked our American rock ways. Supposedly it’s different maybe… He thinks that English musicians are lazy, egotistical… And we just fucking wanted get it done, you know what I mean, cowboy up dude, let’s do it!
x Does he know about White Fence?
T: Yeah definitely! In fact on that last tour last November, he went off stage because of his fever hurting in a middle of a set in Glasgow. He was like “Go down and play… The Love Between!” so we just did it instrumentally, it was so embarrassing (laughs)… He wanted to rest so I had to play fucking The Love Between…
I learned a lot of him and I respect him and when we drink we get weird together (laughs).
x Do you belong to the San Francisco scene now? like the Castle Face Records family?
T: (laughs) Yeah! I’m actually putting out an LP on Castle Face Records called "Cyclops Reap" which will be out in March hopefully as well as limited 7" single with an LP track and two unreleased songs. This will be a split release with Birth Records / Castle Face Records.
And yeah I’m on the new Grouplex comp.
Fresh & Onlys, Sic Alps, Thee Oh Sees,etc… It’s a good syndicate of sound.
I don’t know how anyone does it, no one has any money (laughs).
But I don’t know, you have to be hungry man to make pure art, and uncomfortable and sad… I don’t know, it’s like artists like being tortured… (laughs)
x You’re part of a generation of musicians who are doing music differently , not linked to a indie or major music business but with a faithful audience. And it seems that there is a lot of friendship amongst that…
T: I think it’s more honest.
And you have to understand that I went through that so I know first-hand. Like with Darker My Love. Like “playing the game”, “You have to play this show… it’s good for promotion…” and then you do it and you just feel so sold as this is horrible. The money advances, tour support… I’ve been through that.
I’m happier like that. I think I can be more myself. Not as much money, but happier. It’s a weird thing, I just know that I can be free, in my room, and do it.
In 2012, there was your collaboration with Ty Segall for the record “Hair”. It was great to see 2 different artists doing such a great album…
T: Right, that’s why it works so well.
Ty is younger than me and I think at the time, I was writing more folksier thing, you know White Fence stuff, sometimes it can be soft.
And just being around him brings out this energy that I always had. It’s always there but sometimes it takes something or someone to pull it out.
For example there was years where my bible was The Pretty Things, that was just it, like more than the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. All of it. He brought that kind of thing out of me, but also other stuff I was really into like The Germs…
I think he brought out the primal caveman rock in me, and maybe I pulled out his weirder sides… If you have two people too much the same, it might be boring.
And he’s so enthusiastic with making music... It’s really fun making music with him, because we’re also very similar in some ways. It’s like go and do it and don’t think too much about it. It was like the same process, it’s so weird, very strange, like magical…
x Will there be a sequel?
T: Yeah, we’re gonna it do when I’ll get back. We’re gonna try and record some stuff.
x The new album, Cyclops Reap, on Castle Face Records is a very good news, could you talk about it?
T: I did the same process than for the previous. Because for Family Perfume (Vol1&2), I had so many songs, and I needed help like I just couldn’t.
Ty kind of helped me, he made up the track list together for the volume 1, and I was like “oh this is great, yeah”.
It helped me to be able to put together the second one.This is hard because there is still songs that are unreleased...
So I did actually the same thing with John Dwyer (Thee Oh Sees & Castle Face Records) for the forthcoming one. I just kind of threw thirty songs , I don’t know, and he picked like ten or whatever (laughs).
It helps because even if I don’t choose the ones he does, at least I have an idea like I guess those ones are goods.
You have to understand that I do this every day, writing and recording, it’s like a sickness, it’s weird. And I’m so in it that I have no perspective on what’s good anymore.
For example, I write a song which is my favorite song ever written and then, a week later, I write another one but this one is new now so I like this one better. But in reality the other one’s better… I always have been in a band with people to help with that so because it’s all me… it’s difficult. I wish I could but I need help man (laughs).
x Your songs seem to be very free, unbound, unhampered, unleashed and very different on stage…
T: When I’m writing and recording it at home, I never ever think about how it would translate live. Ever.
It’s purely just make it sounds as close as possible. I don’t think about an extra step. So when we do play live, maybe this is the punk hardcore root, but I just want to have it more intense rather than arty or something.
It’s hard for me to be on stage and not feel that way. Rock and roll. For better or for worst.
People might not like it or like it, I don’t know, but then I can’t help it. I can’t go up there and pretend. On stage I just want to “ahhhh”.
x What is the “growing faith” (Is Growing Faith is the title of the 2nd album and of a song from it) ? I’m also thinking about these lyrics « I’d sing this song for my weakness » (I’d sing on Family Perfume vol. 2)…
T: The “Growing Faith” thing is my own faith in myself.
This is also this kind of little conceptual thing I appreciate in art which is like just do it, keep doing it. Like try, even if no one is watching. Because I think that at the end of your life you know you wish you had. That’s the only thing that can suit your soul and make you a happy person. Doing your creative things. And if you’re not creative artistically, whatever it is…
And that that line « I’d sing this song for my weakness », is more about like trying to write the perfect song … and I haven’t…
- White Fence – New album "Cyclops Reap" (Castle Face Records), out on march 2013
- Discography of White Fence on label such as Make A Mess, Woodsist, Castle Face Records, Birth Records, etc…
- FB link
B & J / FGC. Thanks to A