Concert Preview: No Age Ushers a New Age of Punk
Written by Bwog Staff
Tomorrow night WBAR continues its tradition of solid shows by bands you’ve probably never heard of with No Age and Double Dagger in Lerner’s Party Space. Lucky for Bwog, WBAR staffer Jamie Johns had the opportunity to talk with the duo about health food, Squeeze, and the perks of blossoming rock stardom.
Over the past year and a half, Los Angeles’ No Age has gathered a solid fanbase and heaps of positive press through constant touring and a slew of vinyl only releases. The duo, consisting of drummer/vocalist Dean Spunt and guitarist Randy Randall, have just signed to iconic independent label Sub Pop and single handedly took over last week’s CMJ music conference with a show stealing performance at Bowery Ballroom. When I spoke with them in late August though, none of the hype or press seemed to have gone to their heads. They were two of the nicest and most down to earth guys you could ever hope to talk to about the joys of live music, what it means to be from Los Angeles, and why everyone should start their own band.
Spunt and Randall met in the early 2000s while they were playing in the now-defunct hardcore band Wives. Concerning the formation of No Age Spunt says “We were together as Wives for about three years I think, we just stopped playing as that band but we didn’t want to stop playing together so on April 1st, 2006, we debuted as No Age. Since then our relationship has been really great.” When not playing in No Age, Spunt runs the LA based record label Post Present Medium (PPM) and is a stylist assistant for commercials, and Randall teaches high school students.
The band’s music is influenced by classic punk bands such as Bad Brains and Black Flag, whose slow jam “Nothing Left Inside” is a favorite of Spunt’s, as well as pop artists like Francoise Hardy and Squeeze. When I told the band that I only knew Squeeze’s ’80s classic “Tempted,” they were quick to give me recommendations as to where to start in the band’s catalog, one music fan to another. That’s the best thing about No Age; you can tell that they are playing music because they genuinely love it. On stage, they smile while they play to crowds dancing and jumping around to their incredibly catchy yet still thrash-worthy songs. They are devotees of playing live and talking to the kids that come to their shows, as well exploring a few other perks of life on the road. Spunt divulged one of his favorite hobbies: exploring health food stores. “I really love health food stores, like smaller health food store chains,” Spunt says, “so every time we play a place by one I have to go check it out. Sometimes people aren’t so cool about that though and I’ll be like “Wanna go to the Co-op?!” and they’ll be like “Again? Come on!”
It seems like the health kick has paid off. No Age’s two members seem they have more energy than most bands double or triple size. Spunt’s arms flail as he plays his drums and during their anthem “Everybody’s Down” he sits atop Randall’s shoulders or runs around the stage. Randall climbs up on amps while he plays guitar and if he stays onstage, he moves around as violently as the guitar sounds he’s making. Their songs mix intense drumming, fuzzy vocals, and hard edged guitar playing with atmospheric and dreamlike soundscapes. One minute their music is atmospheric riffing a la Spacemen 3, and the next minute it turns into a straight out LA punk song. Unlike much of what passes for punk these days, No Age are not needlessly aggressive. Instead, their music is uplifting and positive. However bizarre it sounds, it works, especially on tracks like “Every Artist Needs a Tragedy,” “My Life’s Alright Without You” and “Neck Escaper.”
No Age are quickly getting a reputation for being one of the best bands from Los Angeles and they are extremely supportive of their home city’s music scene. When asked what their favorite places in Los Angeles are they were both quick to respond with a handful of venues like The Smell, a place “that’s all ages and people, kids especially, go there and do their weird crazy art and music,” Spunt says, and bookstores like Ooga Booga and Family, both of which are art and music related hangout places. The DIY lifestyle and community are both important to the duo and the way they approach music is reminiscent of bands from the early 1980s punk scene. Instead of focusing on making money or getting their names in every music publication, the band is more focused on supporting other LA bands, playing all ages shows and fostering a musical community. When I asked them if they had anything they wanted to say to the kids at Columbia, Spunt said “Everyone should start a band that reads this and then when we come through your town we could maybe play with you guys and interview you guys. We’ll play and it’ll be cool.” Somehow I do not doubt this.
No Age’s first full length release, a collection of their vinyl-only EP’s entitled Weirdo Rippers, was released this past summer on Fat Cat Records to positive reviews and the band is going to be touring all fall, including a stop at WBAR tomorrow. Sure they might be playing to larger crowds, but the duo is unphased. Concerning the recent acclaim the band has received Spunt says “It’s cool, I mean it’s kind of a separate thing than playing in a band. One part of you has to talk about what you’re doing while the other part keeps doing what you’re doing. You can’t let it get to your head, it’s really two separate things.” With this attitude of music and community first, at the end of the day No Age keep their cool and are still, in their own words, “fangirls of Black Flag and Squeeze.”