By John Bear
Dean Spunt, the drummer and vocalist for Los Angeles noise rock duo No Age, was spending time figuring out how he will perform the songs from the band’s fifth album People Helping People! live. That got him pondering the lyrics he’d written for the 13-track record released in September.
Spunt says he doesn’t set out to tell straight narratives when he writes. He assembles jumbled phrases swirling around in his head, words that sound appealing in the lyrical sense. He likens the process to abstract expressionist paintings.
“You can see a Mark Rothko painting and feel something versus going to TJ Maxx and buying a metal placard with weathered wood that says ‘Today’s going to be great,’ or ‘Mondays, oh boy,” he says. “I’d rather evoke a feeling than tell you.”
No Age plays the Launchpad on Nov. 17. Tickets are $13.
The duo, which includes guitarist Randy Randall, mix punk rock intensity with experimental aesthetics and came up as part of a noise scene centered around downtown Los Angeles in the early 2000s, specifically a club called the Smell.
“The Smell was very much open and allowed us to experiment,” he says. “It wasn’t overly academic because, you know, we are from southern California. We aren’t in New York City. … We did take it seriously though.”
On People Helping People!, Spunt says he feels the thread that has coursed through all of the band’s output. If the record offers any kind of sonic departure from its predecessors, it lies in being less heavy in delivery than previous albums.
“If you are listening to older stuff, a lot of the songs were made in my 20s,” he says. “I’m a different person really.”
The band also produced the entire album itself. While it has always had at least a few self-produced songs on its records, No Age often used outside help, particularly on its more rock-oriented tracks. This time they worked out of guitarist Randy Randall’s garage. Spunt says the songs possess more confidence, and personally, he finds the record to be perfect.
“It has to be, because we are the last people in the room,” he says. “It sounds great to me, and there’s no outside influence to make you say ‘Oh we shouldn’t have added x to that y’ because someone else thought it sounded good.”
The band employed a cut up type technique to some of the songs, with Randall taking Spunt’s drum tracks, chopping them up and rearranging them on songs like “Violence or “Rush to the Pond.” The production style lends a bit of freedom to how the tracks will eventually be played live, and Spunt says the duo plans on taking 90 percent of the record to the stage.
“We can do a version of them that works,” he says. “We don’t have to play them (exactly like they were recorded.) I don’t think you can. … There is one song ‘Flutter Freer’ that sounds completely different so far in practice.”
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