LA's No Age make and do
For their fourth album, LA duo No Age decided to do something different. Dean Spunt talks about the joys of making your own
There comes a time in every band’s life when they know they should do things differently. Some acts don’t bother, but the interesting ones realise that habits set in and routines need to be broken.
Over the course of three albums, Los Angeles duo No Age have set out their stall successfully as purveyors of noisy, jagged, bruised, experimental punk rock. On the basis of Weirdo Rippers, Nouns and Everything In Between, you knew you got a certain kind of fireworks from Randy Randall and Dean Spunt.
They knew it too. So for their new album An Object, the pair felt a change was necessary. “We took a little bit of time off after the Everything In Between album before we felt we were ready to make this record,” says Spunt.
“We had to get inspired and get our heads right and want to make this. We needed to be in a place where we wanted to make a record that commented about where we’re at and where we thought the world was at with music.”
As the band prepared to record the album, Spunt noticed that he was getting asked the same question again and again. “People kept asking me about when we were going to make a new record and when it was going to come out,” he says. “I didn’t have any answer until I started to think about it quite intensely and realised I mainly wanted to make a record because people kept asking about it. That was on my mind before we wrote any music for the album.”
It led No Age to think specifically about the mechanics and necessities of making an actual physical object at a time when music is more and more about digital formats. “In reality, it’s useless, we don’t need the physical object any more. I sometimes feel that we just fetishise the vinyl or CD. It’s just a vehicle for us to sell.
“There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s fine, but it’s an interesting question to bring up. In this day and age, when everyone has a computer, these things are really useless. But the physical act of making a record was something I kept thinking about and the importance of making an actual object.”
Spunt and Randall decided they themselves would make the physical versions of An Object. While they didn’t actually press the 5,000 CDs or 5,000 vinyl records (that would only be possible if they took jobs at the pressing plant), everything else went through their hands.
“It was exciting and a challenge for us to make 10,000 of these products and accomplish that goal,” says Spunt. “It brought up some interesting things, like flipping the idea of what a manufacturer and artist is. That role reversal gets a discussion going in your head if you’re a fan of the band or a fan of music. It didn’t really produce any answers, but it did provoke ideas.
“Like, I don’t think music has been devalued because of going digital, but the object plays into the idea of being a consumer. Why buy a bottle of water, for example, when water is free? What you’re buying is advertising and packaging. I like the idea of these records, which we made by hand in our studio, ending up on a shelf alongside all these things which were made in a giant factory in China. You get this one thing which looks like everything else and it was made by these two guys.”