DRINKS - Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley on Their Collaboration
Nov 12, 2015
Photography by Cara Robbins Issue #54 - August/September 2015 - CHVRCHES
"You get asked in interviews, 'What would your dream collaboration be?' I would always say Tim Presley, and he'd say me," recalls Welsh singer/songwriter Cate Le Bon. After remaining close friends and adoring mutual fans for years, it was perhaps inevitable that Le Bon and White Fence architect Presley would join forces.
Hermits on Holiday, the exceedingly like-minded pair's debut as DRINKS, is defined by the restless intermingling of dual guitar leads. Throughout the album, Le Bon's Marque Moon-like stabs and Presley's post-Velvet Underground skronk entwine and spar in a way that seems to evolve naturally from the duo's kinship, and is never less than unpredictable (White Fence live drummer Nick Murray was invited to handle percussion, though Le Bon laughingly claims he "just looked confused for the most part").
Reached for interviews at separate times—and while stationed on different continents—both artists managed to mirror one another while describing DRINKS as an intuitive, liberating project. "I tend to thrive in these accidental, spur-of-the-moment times," explains Presley. "I love a well-crafted song, but there's like 50% of me that really loves the idea of spontaneity." Le Bon's recollections only seem to echo this sentiment: "There's absolutely no way to say where these songs came from. Even now, when we listen to the record, we fight over who played what guitar part."
The resulting music is psychedelic and disorienting, and tied to garage rock in its rawness and lack of pretension. Yet the presence of surrealist mischief ("Tim, Do I Like That Dog"), freeform dissonance ("She Walks So Fast"), and splendidly skeletal pop (the title track) makes Hermits on Holiday difficult to file under any particular genre. "I can't express how organic and natural the process was. It was like a cleansing," Presley says. "There was no preconceived theory behind it, or a notion that it was going to be a certain way. It was almost like two teenagers got together in a room and started playing instruments."
The recording process seems to have had a restorative effect on both artists. Since wrapping Hermits on Holiday, the ever-prolific Presley has already begun putting the finishing touches on an as-of-yet unnamed solo record, which he views as separate from his White Fence output. He admits to frequently getting consumed by his own work, and viewed the chance to collaborate with Le Bon, who he calls his "favorite guitarist," as an opportunity to step outside of himself. Le Bon, who recently completed a follow-up to 2013's Mug Museum, also characterizes DRINKS as a purifying experience.
"When Tim and I started work on this, it had been the end of almost 10 months solid of touring," she remarks. "I was getting fatigued and sort of grumpy about everything. Having that break from myself, and working with someone I respect, really reignited my excitement in making music again, and making music for music's sake. Something that's honest, and I can stand by. It was like cleaning out the cupboards—in a good way."
[Note: This article first appeared in Under the Radar's August/September/October 2015 Issue, which is still on newsstands now. This is its debut online.]
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