White Fence are in the middle of a two month tour across North America. Beginning in Washington with The Strange Boys last week, the tour also finds White Fence playing alongside Sic Alps, The Fresh and Onlys and Woods.
The release of Is Growing Faith in January established Tim Presley, who recorded the whole thing by himself, as a premier songwriter and musician in his own right. Besides collaborating with The Strange Boys and The Fall, Presley also co-founded Darker My Love. We caught up with him at the beginning of the tour to try and discern where he’s at these days…
How does White Fence differ from the other musical projects you’ve been involved with?
The difference is that I can do whatever, whenever. It’s just me and a recording device.
What was the recording process for Is Growing Faith?
Well, there was no “schedule” or time restraints. It was just a day-to-day thing. I basically lock myself in my room and wait for the miracle.
How did it come about that you included a Johnny Thunders cover on the album?
Like all music I grew up on, I tend to go through waves of re-visiting, and I happened to understand that song this time around. I used to be obsessed with Johnny Thunders, but years later it just kinda hit me again.
It seems like there’s a strong 60s influence in Is Growing Faith. What is it about the music of this era that attracts you?
I really have no idea. I guess the 60′s snake bit me while I was in the egg. It just sounds right to me. For example, the synthetic sound of the 80′s always leaves me cold. Like there’s no feeling in the music. The vocals are fine, but the recorded instruments have no feeling to me. And then the 90′s was a just a variation of the 60′s. Also, I think that a lot of 60′s stuff has all the same key elements as punk rock. Like what’s the difference between “You’re Gonna Miss Me” by the 13th floor Elevators and “Filler” by Minor Threat? Either way, I’m just a fan of melody. And I suppose my brain just goes there magnetically.
When making music that uses the sounds of a bygone era as a jumping board, how important do you think it is to be innovative rather than replicating a sound exactly?
It’s very important. Otherwise you’ll sound weak and lazy. I read one review of “is growing faith” and the writer panned it off as a Beatles tribute rip-off or something. But if you look closer, it boils down to songwriting. You can dress up a song with any era’s clothes and it can work if it’s a good song. These unenlightened no-talent music writers probably would’ve considered Bob Dylan a Woody Guthrie rip off too. They probably don’t believe in Santa Clause. Rock n Roll, Country and Punk is all borrowed music, you just got to put a good song under it. And if you don’t like the “60′s” sound then don’t listen. I don’t give a fuck. I’m not too concerned with re-invention, I just want to write a good song, or just get all my demons out. Know what I mean?
What’s your approach to song-writing?
It changes for every song. Sometimes lyrics first, sometimes not, etc… it either starts with a guitar or a pile of scribbled lyrics.
Some of the lyrics on Is Growing Faith seem to be directed at specific people, is this because you write from personal experience or do you find yourself inventing stories?
I’ve never invented a story. I feel like humans are so interesting that I would never have to use fiction.
How does the band White Fence relate to the White Fence art collective?
It’s just a place where my friends and I can put up art. I suppose there’s no music connection.
Rock and roll is a term that’s banded about a lot, what does it mean to you?
It’s magic. Dumb and smart magic.
Do you have any plans for a UK tour?
Not at the moment, but I’d like to play there soon. I’m working on it.