No Age: the name alone suggests multiple meanings and possible interpretations—timeless, ageless, anonymous, free from restriction, something positive from something negative… a profound strength in its simplicity. Likewise, the Los Angeles duo consisting of drummer/vocalist Dean Spunt and guitarist Randy Randall is many things at once even as it embraces its minimalism.
Spiritual heirs to both Thurston Moore’s wide-eyed experimentalism and the all-encompassing, stark DIY art-is-life aesthetic of the Crass collective, No Age is the kind of band that inspires its audience without affectation, without cynicism. Its live shows are an exploration of possibilities: a guitar laid over a resonating drum head, effect loops woven together like beautiful harmonies, pop songs as performance art, a duo that sounds like the gale force of rock history delivered through a wind tunnel.
The pair’s powerful force, both as a band and individuals has reached such heights to inspire such mainstream press as The New Yorker and The Los Angeles Times to feature No Age’s ties to the underground scene surrounding the Los Angeles all-ages club The Smell (where for the past several years they have each volunteered in various capacities, including booking shows and running the soundboard). Elsewhere, No Age’s members have impacted multiple mediums in a way that tastefully denies rampant cynicism. The duo’s music effortlessly blends piercing noise blasts with hummable melodies, textural loops and crashing drums taking on their own lulling beauty.
“The music is an invitation and rallying call for individuals to get involved in a community which celebrates art and experimentation,” Randy explains. “It’s DIY on a different scale, an attempt to reacquaint people with the notion that art is a crucial part of everyday life. No Age is more than a band to us,” he continues. “It is an umbrella.” And, under this umbrella, Dean and Randy have curated art shows, designed shirts, hats, bandanas, etc., made videos and ‘zines. No Age prefers to perform in unique venues: the LA River Basin, a public library, book stores, an Ethiopian restaurant, all to foster new ways to experience live music outside of traditional bar/club settings.
Fittingly, No Age’s Sub Pop debut, Nouns, is equally succinctly all-encompassing, from the faux-simplicity of the title to the beautiful distortion of its sound to the packaging that includes a 68-page full-color book packed with photos and art pieces. In keeping with the title, the visual component depicts many people, places and things, all of which have particular relevance to the music itself. No Age issued a slew of singles on a variety of indie labels in 2007, resulting in the tellingly cohesive compendium, Weirdo Rippers on Fat Cat Records later that year. That widely heralded release set the stage for Nouns.
No Age decided, as Dean says, in writing the album to, “put down what was on our minds, and create an atmosphere for Randy and I that would be fun to play live AND on our record players.” And, indeed Nouns surpasses that goal. Recorded by Pete Lyman at Infrasonic Sound in LA, Harvey Birrell at Southern Studios in London, and at home by No Age, Nouns opens with a symphony of noise (both Dean and Randy use samples alongside their main instruments) and creeps and/or smashes through a sonic headlock befitting Daydream Nation-era Sonic Youth, Kiwi pop, power pop, My Bloody Valentine, and experimental noise. “No Age is a band,” says Dean. “Bands should be fun and exciting and they should push all the buttons at the same time. They should make you feel like you are going to explode and make you utterly confused and inspired at the same time. At least they should.” Happily, as a band (and even as people), No Age does exactly that.