"I was raised to hate Los Angeles," confesses Tim Presley. Which only makes sense, since Presley -- who started the psych-rock band Darker My Love, and whose solo project, White Fence, is considered by some to be the best garage-rock band in L.A. -- grew up in the Bay Area. He was raised in San Mateo, and lived in San Francisco and Berkeley.
But about 10 years ago, Presley moved south. He's calling from there ahead of tonight's (March 2) show in S.F., explaining how it happened. "I went down to visit a friend... and he showed me a side of Los Angeles -- it was amazing. It was artistic, and open, and everyone was really nice." Though raised in the Bay Area, he was getting tired of the people and the weather. "As I moved to Los Angeles, I was able to open up into what I wanted to be," he remembers. "In Los Angeles, you can live here and you're tucked away in some hill, and you can be social if you want to, but you can also hide away, because it's so spread out. The hiding-out thing is more of my speed."
Indeed, after relocating, Presley saw his artistic endeavors flourish: His group Darker My Love gained a national following, released three albums, recorded in fancy studios, toured all over. But that band is now on a hiatus. For the last couple years, Presley has been out on his own as White Fence, issuing a kind of warped, '60s-flavored psychedelia that's in some ways similar to the music of S.F. garage mainstays Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees.
Presley, in fact, is playing with Segall tonight at Great American Music Hall, and recently recorded an album with him called Hair that sees release April 24. The two haven't had a chance to rehearse those songs, so Presley says they won't get an airing onstage tonight. But the album is a quixotic blend of the two songwriters' strengths: The primal power of Segall mixed with the serpentine, freaky inclinations of Presley. It was even recorded in S.F., at the Chinatown studio Bauer Mansion, where Segall records most of his albums.
But even Presley's solo work sounds like something that came from the Bay Area. He may have been raised to hate L.A., but Presley isn't ashamed to call it home.
"A lot of people have realized that Los Angeles is all right," he says. "Maybe that was like our parents' and Gen X's generation that hated Los Angeles. You don't have to live out some cliche that you don't believe in. All my friends that are from the Bay come to Los Angeles and are like, 'Wow, it's actually cool here.'"