In many ways, the L.A.-based No Age has a fitting name.
In many ways, the L.A.-based No Age has a fitting name. The guitar/drums duo has a practically indeterminate sound on its debut full-length "Nouns," crossing genres and evoking varying eras in rock's history almost from song to song. The end result is music that embodies an alluring sense of timelessness and abandon.
But once you've had the opportunity to chat with the two fine fellows who make No Age go -- Dean Spunt (drums, vocals) and Randy Randall (guitar) -- it becomes clear that the band's name captures not only the spirit of its music, but also its determination to break with mainstream conventions and traditions.
Rather than being fixated on how many records it is going to sell, Randall earnestly tells Billboard.com that No Age's aim is "to inspire future generations, as well as people alive today from previous generations, to change the world, or at least transform the U.S. into a place that is free and safe for artistic expression and social gathering outside of an exclusively monetary exchange."
Whether through a dedication to playing all-ages, low-cost shows in unexpected places; focusing on grassroots community-building; or taking the view that how they conduct themselves on stage and off is tantamount to a political statement, Spunt and Randall carry on the ethos of L.A.-area forebears like Black Flag, who embraced self-reliance, transparency and close interaction with fans.
Says Randall, "I look at the politics of culture as a personal choice and feel like it is my responsibility to say what I feel about issues I care about. However, we are not interested in preaching to the converted or shoving our opinions on other people," he adds. "For me No Age is an opportunity to talk to other people about going out in the world and getting involved in whatever they are interested in."
Randall also says that he'd like No Age to demonstrate that "you don't have to be remarkably special to make art or music; you just have to believe in yourself and express what you are feeling."
No Age's populist, inclusive approach -- as well as its passionate live shows -- quickly gained the duo a steady following and eventually caught the attention of Sub Pop, which signed the band shortly after it began work on "Nouns." The album, which mixes everything from My Bloody Valentine-style shoegaze to straight-up punk and early '90s alt-pop, started at No. 14 on Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart.
The bond between Spunt and Randall seems like a special one, which isn't surprising given the intensity and intimacy of the band's music. Spunt says "it took a little time for us to realize that we really enjoyed each other's company... [but] once we realized we were tight pals, the doors opened up for us to understand and appreciate our individual influences. I sometimes think Randy is the only person I can be in a band with or something since we are so interlocked musically now."
Spunt and Randall met when mutual friend Jeremy Villalobos, a drummer, recruited them to complete a hardcore/punk trio called Wives in which Spunt played bass. Spunt remarks, "We like to say [Wives] was a punch in the face, and [No Age] is like a warm, salty wave. . . . Musically, [Wives] became very uninteresting for the both of us and [it] didn't have the open style that No Age has, where we agreed the songs would be ‘whatever we like.'" Randall adds that Wives, which split in 2005, "came to an end in order for us to start a new band with a clean slate."
In keeping with No Age's general gist of doing things, Spunt and Randall decided on a duo format "partly out of necessity and partly out of using the restriction as inspiration." As Randall explains, "We had to see what we could come up with only using instruments and elements that the two of us could operate. I feel like when you embrace your restrictions, you make something new and unique happen."
And of their already legendary live performances, Randall comments, "I love to see people who come see us lose their shit and just freak out and have fun and not worry about how cool they look or what other people will think."
In fact, for Randall and Spunt, "fearlessness of expression" is the bottom line: "No Age is a way to say to anyone interested in pursuing a creative outlet but are afraid that they might look stupid or fall on their face, that it is OK to look stupid and fall on your face because the benefits of making your art and believing in yourself far outweigh the minor embarrassments that just come with everyday life. I look stupid all the time," Randall concludes, "but I also have a sh*t-ton of fun."