No Age’s L.A. DIY post-punk noise is beautiful, radical, contentious
“I don’t want to see this band,” a friend said while listening to No Age doing 90 on 80 through the 530.
Wha!? Ad hoc DIY ringleaders have been feening over the L.A.-based noise-rock-meets-post-punk duo, and she—of impeccable music acumen, mind you—had just written them off. The opening track on Weirdo Rippers, “Every Artist Needs A Tragedy,” ambient noise-rock that segues into gritty, low-fi poppy shouts, was the kicker. “I dug the Mogwai-sounding intro, but then it ripped me out of that place,” she clarified.
Perhaps that’s the upshot No Age guitarist Randy Randall’s going for. “Our whole idea of starting a band was to try out new ideas. Experiment. Try to write pop songs in the noisiest way possible,” he told SN&R from Los Angeles last week. You get the idea that Randall’s not so much worried about being the proverbial cup of tea, but instead ways to eviscerate said cup.
Consider his unorthodox approach to the guitar. “I’m really just looking for jet-engine kinda sounds with, like, wind chimes,” Randall described of noises evoked. “Maybe earthquakes with wind chimes. If you could imagine a glass store during an earthquake, that’s sort of the sound I’m hoping for.”
So, if No Age’s Loma Prieta rumblin’ meets Marin County front-porch lullaby isn’t your bag, that’s understandable. But you should be into them—check them Tuesday at the DOV. Hell, even the increasingly cautious gatekeepers over at the ’fork gave Rippers an 8.0 indie-cred stamp—in lieu of the aforesaid mushroom stamp: “The album builds into something much bigger than its constituent parts,” they wrote this past June, urging readers to give Rippers’ 11 tracks a full-go before dropping O.J.-like verdicts.
This writer’s take? No Age, a relatively new band who played their inaugural show on April Fool’s Day ’06, has created a unique album that ebbs and flows between experimental sonic noise and pop-punky 3-minute quick hits. One track is ambient, the next indie-rock. Then back to the noise. Then pop. This may seem off-putting and fragmented, but the balance of noise and song is seamless en bloc. Even seductive.
Randall likens the album to “making the raddest mix tape, but of original material [and] without any kind of irony.” Agreed: Rippers is straightforward and audacious, in both its mixing of songs and noise, and also its earnestness in doing so. “It’s easy to use irony as a shield,” Randall said of the countless “post” genres. Rippers needs no such crutch; it just goes for the kill.
This is no surprise, really: Both Randall and drummer/vocalist Dean Spunt hail from the proverbial school of DIY. Their MO? “Taking ideas and not asking for permission, and just going out there and finding a venue to do it,” said Randall, who’s thoroughly entrenched in L.A. DIY—holding down the door at Silver Lake’s Cha Cha Lounge and playing regularly at the Smell (which “graces” the cover of Rippers). Also a filmmaker, Randall currently is making a documentary on the L.A. DIY to-do.
“I think people now are just more plugged in to a larger community of people,” Randall commented on the scene. “Even if you don’t know someone, you’re aware of their presence online.” As an artist, this melding of scene and simulacra, of people and Internet, is conducive to Randall’s style of unbridled musical expression. “It’s a two-way dialogue versus a one-way dialogue,” he explained, noting that it’s much easier to post a song on MySpace and get it out there than fussing over a studio demo and nervously sending it to a radio station.
And, more importantly, it’s also much more fun.
“Rather than sit through, fuck if I know, a half-hour of Life According to Jim or The Tonight Show, I sit there watching my 10-inch computer screen,” Randall said. “I’ll watch some woman in Atlanta talking about vibrators.” Rippin’ weird, indeed.