White Fence's latest album, For the Recently Found Innocent, took Tim Presley out of the isolation of his bedroom and into the studio — well, into Ty Segall's one car garage with a foot of soundproofing on each wall, a space so tight Presley says your drink would knock over if you winked.
"That garage is basically a bedroom," jokes Segall. "Nah, it was smaller," adds Presley.
For Presley, who moved to Los Angeles so he "didn't have to rely on other peoples' opinions or stigmas," recording as White Fence has always been a pretty solitary process.
The studio introduced elements that were novel to White Fence's previous five releases: live drums (played by Nick Murray, a member of the project's live band), better microphones, and Segall's perspective as he hovered over an eight-track tape deck in lieu of Presley's four-track recorder at home.
"Not a lot of people know this, but Ty is a recording genius," says Presley. "He pushes things to the limit, where technically I don't know if that's a good idea. But he does it and it works and that's why it's rad."
He turns to Segall, "I trust you."
Segall is humble about his role in producing For the Recently Found Innocent: "It's all Tim, it's just captured in a different way."
While the two collaborated on 2012's Hair, an album they say "fell together," Presley wanted to see how the partnership would translate to White Fence material. "It's run off of [Hair] being so productive and creative and fun, it just seemed natural to do it again, but just doing my songs this time."
And Presley, a prolific, multi-project musician, is basically an endless wellspring of music. He had between 30 and 50 songs written at the time he first approached the album. Ultimately, he selected 14 tracks, leaving no room for anything but psychedelic rock greatness, sometimes sweet ("Sandra [When the Earth Dies]"), always dynamic ("Anger! Who Keeps You Under?"), with just the right amount of fuzz.
That semi-polished feel was achieved by recording on a Tascam 388 eight-track, then transferring the tapes onto engineer Eric Bauer's 24-track deck. Not only was this trying to "squeeze the most hi-fi shit out of some potentially pretty low fidelity shit," as Segall puts it (something you're not really supposed to do, but he does it anyway), but Bauer's deck was slower, so the team had to manually adjust the speed of the album to avoid it sounding flat.
To say the two were hands-on would be an understatement. "Ty will be on drums and vocals so he's got his hands full, and then I'll do guitar. At the minute mark he'll do his thing and then at 1:23 I'm like, 'go!,'" says Presley, describing how the duo works over a mixing board. "It's a fucking ballet."
At the end of the day, White Fence aimed for greatness with what Segall describes as "very basic" equipment. "It's like records from the '60s," he says. "They weren't trying to sound shitty, they were trying to sound as rad as they could with limited resources. If you're trying to make a shitty mic sound great you're doing the right thing."
"It's more fun to do that anyways," adds Presley. "That's like a triumph. It feels good."
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Catch White Fence featuring Ty Segall at the Echo July 24 and 25.
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