ON A PHONE CALL during the Scandinavian leg of No Age's headlining European tour, drummer Dean Spunt is telling me about his band's primary function as a communication tool—ironic, then, that a connection problem would prevent the actual quote from being on the record. Consider it no small coincidence that, two and a half years prior, in an interview right after a packed, free, all-ages show at Food Fight! vegan grocery, guitarist Randy Randall expressed the exact same sentiment. ("Being in a band isn't interesting, communication is.")
A lot has changed since that day No Age played amid the aisles of fake meat products. Teaming up with Sub Pop has massively increased the band's national and international exposure, and many of the songs on their newest LP, Everything in Between, sound like they'd be at home on early '80s 4AD recordings—the album relies so heavily on keyboard parts and shoegaze-y electronic samples that they've had to draft an auxiliary third member for their live shows.
But the more things change, No Age has, to their credit, kept their approach the same—communication, community, and honesty, made available to as many people as possible. Implicit in that last part of the equation is that no one, regardless of age, gets excluded at the door. No Age's commitment to playing all-age events as frequently as possible is as strong now as it was in their days of playing vegan grocery stores and freeway overpasses—if Holocene hadn't accommodated them in making this Portland date all ages, Spunt assures me they would have simply gone somewhere that would. It's a DIY-inspired freedom over the business side of their project that affords the creative side a similar freedom—Everything is gleefully noisy and nostalgic, sounding like your favorite mixtape run through a Big Muff.
Not every punk band with a profile this high can keep the gap between ideology and reality as minimal as possible—not to mention the divide between fan and band—but that No Age have found a way so far is their greatest contribution to punk rock in the internet age. Of course, it's still far too early to anoint Spunt and Randall as the next Mac- Kaye and Picciotto, but ask me in another 20 years and we'll see about it then.