IT'S BEEN nearly three years since Los Angeles-based noise-punk duo No Age released their last album, 2010's Everything in Between, but there wasn't much downtime for drummer/vocalist Dean Spunt and guitarist Randy Randall during that gap. "We toured for about eight months straight after the last album," Randall says. He's currently on the way to his practice space to work out a few finishing touches before No Age hit the road again in support of their newly released album, An Object.
A band never content to stand stylistically still while always looking to transcend their punk roots, No Age took part in a handful of experimental collaborations between albums. "It was really fun to be working and creating music and sound pieces that weren't necessarily just for an album," says Randall.
Randall and Spunt also recorded a few dozen songs whose influences they felt were too apparent. They were all scrapped to make way for the 11 tracks that appear on An Object. "We just felt like we could do something coming more from our heart and not from a bunch of robotic musical standpoints," Randall says of the outtakes.
No Age committed themselves to rebuilding An Object from the ground up. The pair decided to see the entire process through themselves, from writing and recording to packaging the release. "We wanted to make something physical and hands on," Randall explains. "It really only took us about four days to hand fold 10,000 covers," he adds, shrugging off the final stage of production. "If you consider that writing, recording, and mastering the record took about a year, to spend another four days folding them all and delivering them to the record and CD plant, it's not that bad."
Randall hints that a bigger hurdle might still lie in wait. As a two-piece, "it would be impossible to play a lot of these songs exactly as they are on the record." The two never considered the live setting when layering and tinkering on the new album. But he's far from intimidated by the challenge. "We'll play a different version of the songs that still retains the spirit, but with a whole new arrangement and feel."
He adds: "A song like 'Running from a-Go-Go,' which on the record is sort of a temporal, one-note thing that is dense and drone-y, we are playing live in a way that kicks up and has a lot more to the drive behind it." It's fitting for the road lament, which paints landscapes of long drives and lonely motels. "I think when you're home whining about it, you feel one way, but once you're out there on the road everything picks up again and becomes a lot more fun."
I mention the squealing and pops on this particular track, and Randall perks up. "I was able to create that sound using an awesome little practice amp. You plug a small guitar cable into the headphone output and the input and create a feedback loop with it. Then you sort of just fiddle around with it and you create this oscillator sound."
Randall picked up the Roland Spirit 10A amp for $50 a few years ago at Portland's Trade Up Music. "They always have awesome stuff, and being from California, there's still the amusement of being able to buy gear with no sales tax.
"There's some Portland spirit on this record!" he continues. "We're psyched to come back to Portland."