Interview: No Age
Fri, 27 Jun 2008 09:43:34
No Age Videos
On a downtown Los Angeles street next to a grimy cantina, there are four words scrawled across a seemingly abandoned building that have undoubtedly left a few passersby scratching their heads. It reads "No Age Weirdo Rippers" in black, pink and yellow paint on the back of The Smell, a little-known venue whose only entrance is through the alley on the other side. It's at this furtive locale that up-and-coming drum and guitar duo No Age built their grassroots following and ignited an entire music scene with their highly experimental blend of noise, punk and powerpop hooks.
Hype started spreading beyond LA's back alleys last year with the release of Weirdo Rippers, a compilation of the group's original, vinyl-only EPs, and turned into a frenzy with the recent release of their acclaimed album Nouns. The record impressed fellow noise-rockers Liars, who decided to give guitarist Randy Randall and drummer Dean Allen Spunt the opening spot on their North American tour. Spring boarding off of their seemingly unstoppable momentum, the band is poised to take another giant leap in musical status this Friday when they premiere their video "Eraser" on MTV's FNMTV, alongside mainstream heavy-hitters Rihanna and Maroon 5. On the eve of this nationwide debut, we were lucky enough to talk with Randall about the band's unexpected success, their simple but effective view of song craft and coming in contact with the world of mainstream pop.
You've built a name for yourselves playing small, lesser-known venues, but on your recent tour with Liars you hit some major spots like the El Rey in Los Angeles. Has it been difficult to transfer the sound you cultivated in such intimate settings to larger venues?
No, I think it’s been a challenge, to a degree, that we actually have to turn down at larger venues because they have bigger PAs. I sort of built up my guitar rig and sound playing in smaller places where there is no PA, or certainly not one that you would put a guitar through. So, in playing the bigger places, I’ve had to get more comfortable playing the guitar at a quieter volume, which almost seems ironic. That’s the challenge.
Along with playing for more people, you've also received a lot of praise from critics and peers, such as Bradford Cox of Deerhunter and Colin Greenwood of Radiohead. Has it been easy to handle so much recognition so early in your band's life?
Someone like Bradford has been a friend for years, so it’s not that weird when it's one of your friends. But someone like Colin from Radiohead, it’s been sort of surreal and unexpected. I just don’t think we really let it go to our heads. It’s nice, but it’s not really what we’re doing it for.
Does it add any pressure to what you guys are doing or is it a relief to know people are really getting into your sound?
I think it’s something that we never expected, but I don’t know. I think we only really write the songs that we want to hear, and it’s surprising that anyone else enjoys them, other than us and our friends. To see other people enjoy the music is awesome, but it’s really unexpected.
Sub Pop has turned out a lot of great records across a pretty broad spectrum of genres lately, including your latest Nouns, the Fleet Foxes debut and Wolf Parade's sophomore full-length. Are you able to interact with your label mates and draw inspiration from them or do busy schedules keep you guys apart?
No, there’s a few things on the label now that we’ve crossed paths with, like this band Pissed Jeans. They’re friends and we’ve gotten the chance to play with them. And a band like Wolf Eyes is totally inspirational. I feel like it would be fun to do more stuff together. Dean had an idea where we’d put out a zine where we would all get to interview each other with a more fraternity kind of camaraderie. I think we’re still putting it together. That’s just one more idea that we told Sub Pop about and they were like “Sure, of course! We’ll pay for it, we’ll print it, let’s put it together." We've just got to get time to sit down and do it.
It seems like your diverse sounds could really draw a large crowd. Any plans on joining up for a tour in the future?
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