May 8th, 2008 | Interviews

Dan Monick

No Age “Eraser”


No Age have just released their album Nouns on Sub Pop. They spoke the day before they left for tour.

What’s that ‘HAUNTED FUCKING’ tape in your album liners?
Dean Spunt (drums/vocals): That’s a band—that’s Jack from Kiosk. They’re a band from Australia, and that’s his other band and he sent me a tape. It’s good shit.
D: Cory—the bass player for BARR’s band—they’re fucking good, too. Kind of like thrash but a little more hardcore. His Hero Is Gone kind of thing.
D: ‘80s-style nardcore. With a twist.
Do you feel like you’re L.A.’s ambassadors to the outside world?
Randy Randall (guitar/vocals): I was the teen mayor of my city growing up, so I’m used to being a dignitary. We were trying to get a skatepark built. The city council asked us how many kids were doing drugs—this was in high school—
D: You were a rat, Randy! They wanted you to be a rat!
R: They didn’t wanna know who—they just wanted a number. So I said at least fifty percent. I thought it seemed accurate.
And the next day there were fifty percent more cops at school?
R: The principal tried to call us in—like ‘Hey, guys, don’t say that.’
D: I knew there was this teen city council thing—I didn’t know they were kind of a mafia.
How do writers change your quotes when they print your interviews?
D: I’ve changed my position on that—I don’t read interviews anymore. The good ones started making me feel weird.
R: People are saying such nice things, and we know it’s not true.
D: ‘That’s fucking bullshit! I suck!’ I can deal with flattery, but everything in the press either says the same thing—an alteration of the press release—or nice things, and for me it’s a little too much.
R: Dean, did you know ‘Brain Burner’ is about drug addiction?
D: That’s what I’m talking about—Rolling Stone said it’s a song about drug addiction.
R: ‘A requiem to L.A.’s punk godfathers who were lost.’
D: They read other stuff and think they know what’s up—‘So you guys are the ambassadors of the Smell! Is it a scene?’ And obviously they’re trying to get me to say, ‘The Smell’s a great place, we play with Mika Miko and Abe Vigoda…’ ‘So D.I.Y.—tell me about D.I.Y.!’
R: I did an interview with an Australian reporter and the guy could give a shit—I don’t think he was even listening to what I was saying. And then I mentioned barbeques, and his ears perked up—‘You have to come to Australia! We’ve got barbeques!’
What band would you have the most questions for between Black Flag, Minutemen or Husker Du?
D: I have so many questions for Grant Hart, but Black Flag—I wanna know what Greg Ginn was thinking. With Minutemen, you know what Mike Watt was thinking.
R: He has the hootpage!
D: Fuck it—my answer is Greg Ginn. I’d ask about starting a label before there were really labels, about touring without a touring circuit, specifically about the guitar tone and how he sounded. Things like that—you never hear what he has to say.
R: He wrote all the lyrics but how did it feel to have Henry get the attention? He’d gone out of his way not to be the frontman, but he was still so in control of everything—such a control freak, but he didn’t wanna be the public face.
D: But he was also the epitome of D.I.Y. and that community around bands—‘I’ll put out stuff I like, and my brother will do the art for all the things because he’s my brother, and I’ll do this on my own and make records and go on tour.’ He’s more than Black Flag the band—the music is amazing, but at the same time, his spirit and ethic and stuff are really influential. And I’ve never heard him talk about that shit. Or what if he’s like, ‘No, I was just trying to make as much money as I could!’
R: ‘And it was cheap—my brother did the art for free!’
D: And that’d be cool to know, too.
R: I’d talk to Greg Norton about his moustache.
D: Did you know he has a restaurant called Norton’s? Like a fancy steak restaurant. I found the website and there was a picture of him and his wife—he still has the moustache. I wrote him a really creepy Myspace and he invited me to come down. So I wrote him again like ‘I’M SUCH A FAN OF HUSKER DU!!!’ and freaked out on him, and he didn’t write back.
Who else have you creeped out lately?
D: Janeane Garofalo—I think we creeped her out. We met her at Mess With Texas and we didn’t have anything to talk about.
R: Damon from Fucked Up chewed her ear off on politics.
D: We just wanted to be like, ‘You’re funny.’ I wanted to hear a joke! Me and Jennifer talked about it before, like if I met Janeane—
R: Is that the one celebrity you can ‘do,’ Dean?
D: No, no—
Do you think you need a bassist?
D: No. Who says that?
R: The guy from the New Yorker said we needed one. I think he wanted to play bass for us.
D: If anything, we need a second guitarist. The bass is an amazing instrument, but Randy really fills out the low end. I like higher trebly bass. I hate groovy bass.
How does it feel when people call you trendy haircut bitches?
R: Who said that?
Some guy on our website.
D: Have you seen either of our haircuts lately? We have the least trendy haircuts ever.
R: Someone once said ‘These guys look like they’ll come to your town with their girlfriends and have sex with their girlfriends in your town!’ But it wasn’t like having sex with their girlfriends—it was our own.
D: We’d bring our own girlfriends? I don’t like reading that shit—I don’t even need to know. My cousin cuts my hair.
R: When we were in Germany with Mika Miko—the Germans have a very succinct way of criticizing you, and a guy comes up to me—‘So I see you try to go a moustache. Why do you do such a thing?’ I hadn’t shaved in a couple weeks and I can’t grow facial hair, but it made me look at myself differently the next day.
Was there any L.A. label you would have signed with?
R: PPM? We’re gonna try and do a 7” on Slash. To be honest—we’re not really famous. The perception of us being a band—‘Are you guys gonna play Coachella?’ No, no one asked us. ‘You know all these people—you could announce a barbeque on Myspace and a thousand people would show up!’ No, fifty people showed up and they’re all friends. Maybe more people read it, but only fifty showed up. That’s a pretty good barometer.
The barbeque barometer?
R: I think we’re doing alright. I felt successful since our first shows—‘Wow, we’re actually pulling off being a band!’ I don’t think there’s anything to shoot for—all the other stuff is icing on the cake. I play music I like to play and do that primarily. That’s amazing. I count my blessings every day. For us, we don’t think we deserve it—but it’s awesome to see friends who work so hard for so long get attention and catch people’s eye. We’re psyched on having awesome friends since before there was any sense of attention and I hope we’ll know them when there’s no attention afterward—friends first, then all that other stuff. That’s the straight answer—or the more diplomatic answer.
What do you think L.A. is missing?
R: More all-ages venues and more vegan restaurants.
That’s a permitting nightmare.
D: Every time I come home, I’m glad as shit to be home. ‘Fuck yeah—I’m so excited! Things are so cool here!’ I think we should open up a store—No Age should have a store. But I don’t wanna sell anything. Maybe there would just be a bunch of couches and we can practice there, maybe.
You can get some good couches at that St. Vincent on Avenue 21.
D: Our good friend Buddy Akita from This Moment In Black History bought a couch from that St. Vincent, and brought it home and opened it up—it was a sofa bed—and inside they found a paper bag, and there was $9,000 in the bag.
No bloodstains or cocaine residue?
D: No, just cash.
That beats the age-old story of how PPM started.
D: But that’s pretty good—‘Backstreet Boy hits young label owner, who starts label.’
R: That really did happen, but Dean started the label by shoplifting from the Gap. That’s how it really started.
D: I don’t know if I should talk about this. I’m not supposed to talk about the Backstreet Boy thing. Just say PPM started a few different ways.
R: We’re debunking myths here.
D: Let’s debunk the Randy-breaking-his-neck-brain-surgery thing.
R: I had my head broken open a couple times. I don’t really remember. I have plates and screws from where they put things together.
Did it give you new cause to contemplate your mortality?
R: I was already pretty dark before then.
D: One time in Cleveland, I had to do an enema. I had impacted bowels and I was freaking out. I did one on the bathroom floor.
R: And we also ate at Olive Garden, and drank their decorative bottles of wine. We didn’t know if they were wine—but oh boy, was there wine in there!
How did the New Yorker miss these stories?
D: He didn’t have the scoop! Drugs and enemas! A Cleveland Enema—like a Cleveland Steamer, but a little more sanitary.
What’s the most unsanitary experience you shared?
R: Being in the car for thirteen hours—just because of all the bowel movements. Being in a van for like a month, and driving Portland to L.A.—puking on each other and Dean pissing in bottles and hiding them in the back of the van.
To turn them in somewhere later?
R: I heard J.D. Salinger saves his own urine. Maybe when he dies someone will donate it somewhere. If you owned J.D. Salinger’s lifetime supply of urine…
D: That’s so creepy.
I didn’t know you guys knew so much disgusting stuff.
D: We like interviews where we don’t talk about music.
R: There’s so many more interesting things we know about life.
D: ‘Don’t you wanna hear about our new record?’
R: ‘This record is a lot like a full record because we sat down and wrote it, and that’s different than before because we didn’t write a full record!’
D: ‘Why is this record different than Weirdo Rippers?’ Can I put something down? I’ve never been to the Silverlake Lounge. I plan on dying never having gone there. Not that I know anything, but I’m not gonna go. I mentioned that and someone said, ‘How? Really?’ I’ve never been to the Scene, either.
Have you ever been to Disneyland?
D: Uh, no—fuck you!
R: I told myself I’d never go to the Henry Fonda til we played there.
And sure enough…
R: We don’t get banned from venues—we ban ourselves. We can’t fuckin’ go there!
Do you have a plan if you ever end up playing late-night TV?
D: We don’t but we should.
R: A slogan to put on my guitar. Or I could write Fugazi on my sneakers so people know about Fugazi.
D: We could run up and put our genitals on the camera.
Is this the first No Age interview where you talk about genitals?
D: Oh, God, no—most interviews I bring up genitals.
Your press kit is noticeably lacking genitals.
R: They cut that out.
D: We almost left the label because of that.
R: ‘You cut off our genitals, Sup Pop! I need those for something!’
When’s the last time you wore a Radiohead shirt?
D: Never.
R: Can somebody give me a Pablo Honey t-shirt?