No Age - Biography
No Age, the duo of guitarist Randy Randall and drummer Dean Allen Spunt, perfectly embodies the spirit of the current art-punk scene in Los Angeles. Merging classic lo-fi indie rock with art-damaged experimentalism and hardcore punk’s DIY ethics, the scene in LA congealed in the early 2000s around bands like Mika Miko, HEALTH and Silver Daggers at the downtown venue/gallery The Smell. No Age was one of the first bands from this scene to gain wide recognition through its infectious blend of high-energy thrash, churning noise and skewed pop melody.
No Age emerged from the demise of Wives, a group that featured Spunt, Randall and drummer Jeremy Villalobos. Spunt and Randall formed No Age in late 2005, taking the band name from a 1987 compilation of instrumental music on the SST label. The duo played its first few shows in early ’06 at the New Image Art Gallery and The Smell. Randall has noted the freedom The Smell’s open-minded audience granted the band, allowing the duo to experiment beyond skate-punk and indie rock structures. From the beginning No Age stretched out sonically, taking in elements of shambolic K Records noise pop, dreamy psychedelic ambience and Sonic Youth inspired guitar deconstruction. Adding these influences to its core of thrashy, catchy punk, the band quickly found its distinctive sound.
Both members are heavily involved in LA’s indie art scene and regularly collaborate with visual artists and filmmakers. The band’s records are always beautifully packaged with a clear eye for inventive design. On March 26, 2007 No Age released five vinyl singles on five different labels with artwork that spelled out “No Age” when collected together. The British label FatCat quickly picked up on No Age’s energy and collected the singles as a CD release in June of 2007. The compilation, titled Weirdo Rippers, features The Smell on the cover. The tracks work very well sequenced together, merging to become quite an epic record. Its amazing the sense of fragmented grandeur this duo conjures from a limited, willfully lo-fi setup. Like early Pavement or Kicking Giant, a band No Age is often compared to, songs like “Boy Void” and “I Wanna Sleep” manage to be totally sloppy and erratic without ever irritating. The heavily textured loops and processed samples congeal into a blissed-out haze obscuring the band’s chant-along vocal hooks, pounding drums and thrusting guitars. The results are entirely mysterious and utterly compelling, the perfect merger of teen punk energy and art-damaged experiment.
No Age’s reception beyond the LA scene was immediate and warm. Bands like Deerhunter and Liars professed a deep affection, as did Radiohead’s Colin Greenwood. By the end of ’07 the New Yorker had even profiled the duo in a piece titled “Let It Rip.” Spunt and Randall toured constantly and positive reviews poured in, paving the way for No Age to sign with legendary Seattle label Sub Pop in 2008. The group also went on tour with Liars that year, releasing a limited edition split 7” with the band that featured 200 copies with unique artwork for each city on the tour. That same year brought Goat Hurt, a super limited tour only 10” self-released by the band, and the Eraser 7”, No Age’s debut for Sub Pop. Nouns, the band’s first proper full-length, followed soon after.
Nouns jumps off from the tracks that made up Weirdo Rippers, expanding the duo’s use of processed sounds and self-made samples. Overall the scope here is bigger with a focus on dense textures, taut melodies and whorls of queasy sonic overload. Tracks like “Here Should Be My Home” and “Sleeper Hold” find No Age refining its sound and upping the melodic ante while maintaining that damaged vibe with awesome results. These songs are only nominally more pop than the group’s previous music, but that extra element makes for some seriously catchy art-punk that recalls the best of underground pop, from K Records to Flying Nun, but refracts it all through No Age’s unique lens.
Spunt and Randall remain active with other projects. Randall followed the Altamont Apparel skate team to Paris to shoot a tour film titled “The Foreigners” that features a No Age soundtrack. Spunt runs a small label called Post Present Medium with releases by artists like Silk Flowers, Abe Vigoda, John Weise and Black Dice’s Eric Copeland. Both No Age members and their music appeared in a movie called High School Record by filmmaker Ben Wolfinsohn in 2008.
At the end of 2008 No Age toured with Los Campesinos! and Times New Viking. A tour single was released titled Shred Yr Face featuring a song from each band. Teen Creeps, the second single from Nouns, was also released featuring an unreleased song on the B-side.
The following year brought tours with Deerhunter and Dan Deacon, further collaboration with Altamont Apparel, a TV appearance on The Late Show With Craig Ferguson and an unexpected Grammy nomination for “Best Recording Package” for Nouns. Sub Pop released a new EP, Losing Feeling, in October 2009. Comprised of four tracks that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the band’s last record, the EP is a solid reminder of the traits that make No Age such an intriguing band and serves as a tantalizing teaser for the next full-length.