Anyone who’s frequented the DIY punk rock scene knows who No Age is. And not only do they know who they are, they worship the duo. No Age is a loud, in-your-face, unapologetic noise rock duo on Sub Pop Records, and comprised of Randy Randall and Dean Allen Spunt.
The two formed the band in 2005 and are known for their gritty, wild, purely punk live shows. After four albums and a bunch of EPs together, the last album the two released was in 2013. They both now have their own side projects, families, lives, and Randy is still kicking it with Rat Fist, along with being commissioned to score different projects every now again.
Most exciting part of all of this, is although there’s not technically any sort of rumor of an LP or EP dropping in the near future, the boys are still ready to play the shit out of any stage they stand on. Luckily for us, we got a chance to sit down with Randy Randall before he played our Jukely Sound Projects show, and chat with him about No Age, his favorite concert memories, side projects, and fans.
No Age has been playing together since 2005, so you definitely have a certain rhythm and structure down, and you definitely have a dedicated following. How do you balance the expectation from your fans as well as wanting to grow in No Age’s sound?
That’s a good question. I think like most artists, the first person you have to satisfy is yourself. It’s a bit of a selfish process in that way, if you’re not excited about it, then it’s hard to put the energy behind it.
Dean and I both have to get excited about something internally, and then it’s about executing it in a way that’s fun. It’s not so much that we don’t consider an audience, but you can’t please people all of the time. You have to do what your gut is telling you, and what you’re excited about.
We grow and our ideas change with us. The idea is “get excited about the song,” so you just kind of gut-check it. And as we grow as people, we grow in our sound. What was exciting to your gut at 25 is a bit different than what’s exciting at 35, and you have to satisfy that.
Do you two use your separate projects to tap into different elements of creativity? How do you balance the two?
Yeah I think both of us are just always working on things, things that Dean will get stoked on, or there are things that I will get stoked on. Trying to find the right fertile ground to plant the seed in.
I know what Dean gets excited about, and there are times I’ll be like, “Well this is something that will be a Rat Fist song,” or a solo idea, or something that’s a score or composition idea
At the end of the day, when we get together, I’ve learned a lot of work techniques. And Rat Fist is a bi-coastal band, Philly and L.A.; I have learned how to write songs quickly and record them, and just have a quick work process overall. After which Dean and I do it again together, work and edit and rerecord, so we don’t have to labor over it, you know?
We know in two days whether we like a song. We did that over the summer and ended up writing two new songs that we’ve been playing live. So the process of writing quickly and recording between the two projects is what’s cool about being in two separate projects.
You guys play smaller, intimate shows, a lot of the time with no age limit. But then you also play big warehouses as well. What are the pros and cons of each type of show?
We don’t really have one favorite over the other, I think it’s the way you said it, it is pros and cons.
It’s a lot of fun to play small intimate shows. I mean the audience is literally sweating on you and you’re sweating on them, and its a very up-close-and-personal thing. There’s no denying the amount of energy that’s there—the sound quality might not be the best, the vocals don’t sound right, or the amps might be too quiet, and the ability to create a piece of music live that’s up to a higher musical standard is harder, but the energy is so great. The live energy and the wrestling match of it all is off the Richter scale, you know? The energy makes up for the kid who’s just poured his beer all over my pedal board, or the guy who ran into my guitar whose sweaty back is rubbing up against me and keeping me from playing a note.
And then the other side of it, with the bigger venues, there’s this rich, layered sound and soundscape we work out and are able to bring live and integrate with the PA, and I think over the years I’ve always wanted the guitars to be really loud, not realizing that you can’t compete with the PA that way. So you have to work with it, and create a great guitar tone that’s easily captured and presentable in a large way. It becomes weird, technical, nerdy stuff, but when you’re forced to work with a PA you create this huge wall of sound which I get really excited about.
Then a lot of times we’ll mix it up and jump off the stage or people will jump on stage. It’s not the same as a basement show, but I think in some ways it’s its own cool art experience.
So you guys are familiar with warehouse spaces, like the one you’ll be playing on May 7th with Kero Kero Bonito and Crystal Castles. It’s pop-electro vs. electronic. Does playing alongside electro acts change your set or the way you go about playing?
We don’t change it up too much, it would be cool to do everything through an 808—but we don’t do that. We just kinda do what we do. I like playing diverse bills. When I go see a show, I mean, I have kind of a diverse and eclectic taste, so it’s fun to see other bands. It’s interesting to see variety of things throughout the night.
We do what we do, we do us.
What are you hoping for with the energy of the crowd? What are you hoping the crowd takes away from seeing you play?
I hope people lose their minds. When I think of my fave memories of going to shows, it is always me being blown away. There’s like… a joy to the chaos of it all, even when it’s not pretty. The feeling of getting lost in the night, you know, it’s hard to have expectations for the audience as a performer.
I’ve never been a fan of the sheeple thing that’s like, “Everybody clap your hands, get on your feet!” We’re all adults here; do whatever the fuck you wanna do. If you wanna lose your mind, lose your mind. This isn’t the hokie pokie.
It’s the music’s job to construct people, they either feel it or they don’t. And we play loud, fast, weird music. I’ve experienced people going crazy about it.
Should we be expecting an album? What’s going on over there?
Well, hopefully. There was some life stuff that came up. We had some family members pass and some born, lots of stuff coming and going, so we took some time to live and be there for our family. That all informs the music as well, and those events help us write.
You live a life to create art around it, so we’ve been doing that. Hopefully there’s something soon. I’m doing Rat Fist stuff and I’m actually working on a score for an indie film which is awesome. I’ve been working on short films with other directors, keeping myself busy. Writing these mini symphonies are sort of noisy suspense pieces, which are really fun. The idea is that it all builds to something.
What are your favorite concert memories? One you’ve attended and one you’ve played?
Oh man. We played on this bridge in Austin in 2008 at four in the morning. This guy Timmy would throw these amazing parties that were real DIY, and he did this thing on a foot bridge one time.
I don’t know how many people were on the bridge, must have been over a thousand people, and it was us and Fucked Up at 4 AM in the middle of the river, and it felt like the whole thing was going to collapse. So it was a scary memory because we’re playing and everyone’s moving, but it definitely stood out as being like, “This is LIVE.” It was scary, exciting, fun, and dangerous all at the same time.
My favorite show I’ve attended… it changes. I remember seeing Bordoms at APC up at Kutchers. I forget who was curating it, maybe Flaming Lips, and that whole weekend was amazing. We played with Bob Mole, I think Suicide played.
Watching the Bordeums and these other sets and listening to these drones that build and build and build, I was so in the moment, I was smiling and crying and laughing. It was so exciting, and all of my emotions came out at once because I was so wrapped up in it and I forgot where I was. It’s that kind of catharsis aside from playing a show, by being an audience member and being able to give it all I had as well, and they brought it out of me.
I’m going to be a part of RBMA for Glen Branca the week after the No Age and Crystal Castles show. It’ll will be an ensemble of guitarists, and so much fun. Come out!
Jukely is a live music membership that gives members guest list access to dozens of shows every week in 16 cities in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.