This originally appeared in the Event Guide
By Aoife Barry
For a two-piece, No Age make a lot of noise – the sort of glorious racket that inspires teenagers to pick up their guitars and gig-goers to flail about in wild abandon. An arty indie rock group made up of good friends Randy Randall and Dean Allen Spun, No Age are Los Angeles-based and part of LA’s Smell scene, named after a popular club that’s hosted the likes of HEALTH, Mika Miko and Silver Daggers. No Age are currently signed to Sub Pop records and released their album ‘Nouns’ this year.
Los Angeles may be typically known as the hub of the movie industry, the mean streets where dreams of Hollywood are made and broken – but in the last couple of years it has become the centre of one of the most exciting music scenes in America.
Centred around an all-ages venue called The Smell, this scene gave birth to arty, angular and downright fun bands like the aforementioned HEALTH and Mika Miko, Abe Vigoda, the Mae Shi and Lavender Diamond but to name a few. One of the brightest lights in the Smell scene is No Age – a duo made up of two vegans with a love of art, a DIY ethic and a carefree ability to have fun.
The band are currently on the Drowned in Sound ‘Shred Yr Face Tour’, where they are playing alongside Times New Viking and Los Campesinos. “Times New Viking’s awesome,” enthuses Randy, “and Los Campesinos are great. We’re friends with Times New Viking and then the Los Campesino guys approached us to see if we wanted to partner up for a tour and we were psyched to do it.” The tour brings together three bands who are among music’s ‘bright new things’, making waves worldwide – but for these young musicians, it’s all about one thing. “There’s a lot of eating [on tour],” says Randy enthusiastically. “Dean and I are both vegans so food becomes a priority when we get into town! It almost becomes a hobby in itself – but it’s rewarding, if at the end of the day you get some good food out of it. We know all the falafels restaurants in Europe!”
The new-found and deserved recognition that the falafel-loving No Age are getting has its roots planted firmly in the afore-mentioned Smell scene. “Dean and I have been volunteering at [The Smell] for years,” explains Randy. “It’s a really cool open environment that really helped foster some cool experimentation. Bands aren’t afraid to suck! It’s ok – you can write music that you don’t think anybody else is going to like.” In fact, No Age themselves thought that they were not destined for great things, and were surprised to find a ready and willing audience. “It made sense to us but we didn’t think anybody else would really like it. We got the chance to play at the Smell, and realised, ‘Oh what, people want to hear this music?!’. You don’t really know, taking it out of your bedroom or practise space or whatever, that people will like what you do. We were really surprised.”
“I think LA’s got a good thing going,” says Randy of the current scene, of which a large proportion of his friends are involved. “It’s really great, I feel like we’re all working so hard, I think you know, one person kind of breaks out of LA and it’s like – wait a second, if they can do it, we can do it. It’s a very supportive community. There’s not a lot of internal competition, it feels very supportive. If one band does well, they want to help another band.” These close relationships extend beyond just playing gigs together – Mika Miko’s Jennifer Clavin directed the video for the band’s single ‘Goat Hurt’ while a photo of the exterior of the Smell itself featured on the cover for their album ‘Weirdo Rippers’.
There’s a real emphasis with No Age on the aesthetic – playing around with images, colours and graphics, and making posters, t-shirts and album/single covers into works of art. “It’s something fun because at the end of the day, for better or worse you gotta have a cover, you gotta have a poster – why not … have a bit of fun with it, maybe think about it if you can. It’s a good excuse because we get to make visual art and we get somewhere to put it,” says Randy.
One unusual step that the band took was releasing five limited edition 7” singles – on five different record labels, on the same day. “Dean and I, we try to challenge ourselves – especially in the beginning when we felt there was nothing to lose,” says Randy. “So it was really fun and exciting to think up different ideas. And a lot of it would be trying to one-up each other, like ‘We should do two 7”s’; ‘We should do FIVE 7”s!’ – bam, take that, go figure! To us it was funny because no one knew who the hell we were so it was even funnier to do that. I think now that we’ve got a bit of attention we have to think a little bit harder and scratch our heads about it…I’m kind of done with one-upping each other.”
Signing to Sub Pop – “It feels like a dream” – was another move that neither the band nor their fans anticipated – and it has been a fantastic partnership so far. “It’s a trip, I think they really follow their instincts, and they have good instincts,” says Randy. “They are professional but they are also not afraid to take chances on stuff they believe in. It’s a really supportive place to be.”
One person who wasn’t so supportive of the band was a fan who messaged their myspace site to tell them they were hipster losers who deserved to rot in hell. “It’s kind of one of those things that seems so surreal,” laughs Randy incredulously. “Just as crazy as it is for people to like us, I think it’s just as crazy for people to not like us, to care that much one way or another. When you get something like that in some way it’s a form of flattery too, that we actually upset somebody.”
As expected, the band didn’t take it to heart. “I think criticisms of us are totally valid – we accept everyone’s point of view,” says the well-balanced pacifist. “I don’t think we’re the best band in the world – I like us, I like what we do, but their criticism went a bit above and beyond – there was something about being sodomized in hell by the devil…!”
So, signing to Sub Pop, touring worldwide, receiving satanic hate mail – it’s all in a day’s work for No Age. But like the laidback guys they are, they’re taking it with a pinch of salt. “It definitely was never something I could have predicted,” smiles Randy. “It’s cool though.” An understatement, perhaps, but refreshingly so.