For some bands, it's all too easy to succumb to the music industry pandemic also know as 'second (or third) album syndrome'. No Age, however, seemed to be juiced up on a bottomless elixir, releasing three albums that pioneered, perfected and mastered their own brand of L.A. noise rock.

So when it came to recording their fourth album, An Object, the two-piece consisting of guitarist, Randy Randall, and drummer/vocalist (and now pseudo-percussionist), Dean Spunt, decided to change things up. In other words, it was all about stripping things back and rebuilding from a place devoid of the scripted and subliminally embedded rulebook. The outcome is a record that sounds fresh and pretty darn awesome.

I called up one half of the duo, Randy Randall, to discuss the new record, wedding music and make your own dildo kits…



Hey Randy, how's it going? I hear you are in Hawaii?

Yeah, I'm in beautiful Hawaii, it's crazy. I'm in paradise!

Are you working or just taking a post-recording break?

Yeah, it's mostly just a holiday. I have a friend who is getting married out here so it's a good excuse to go to Hawaii, you know?

Definitely. Anyway, I guess we should talk about the new album… How did you rehash your approach to making An Object?

Well, we started doing it like we normally would, jamming out and having a few ideas, the sort of very unscripted and instinctive process. But I think after a while, even with that process you develop shortcuts, or an unspoken rulebook. We didn't realise that we had gotten into that rigorous of a rulebook because intuitively it felt kind of natural. We got about 4 or 5 songs into working in that fashion and decided to see if we can shake things up.

Dean left the drum kit and picked up a bass. He started playing with drumsticks and just different things, trying to create a rhythm that wasn't on the traditional drum kit. I scaled back my guitar set up and was just playing through a small practice amp. It wasn't so much about quality of sound or even the songwriting. You put out these grey notes instead of an actual melody and if you start from that place, you kind of get a feeling more than a song structure.

I heard that Dean was doing some crazy percussion stuff too?

It's a difficult one to describe. If you hear the record it's not necessarily a strange sound, but I think the process is what's most interesting. There are these things called contact mics, which are essentially thin metal filaments at the end of a wire. If you imagine a stethoscope plugged into a large amp and then you just swing that thing around and hit it as hard as you can against any kind of surface. Physically just pushing that thing as hard as you can and then mic'ing the amp so it puts out a sound. Those moments for us I think were very necessary.

And now we are trying to play them live and instead of on the last record - where we were trying to be rigorous about performing the songs as close to an album as you could - we are almost going a completely opposite way. We wrote the songs, we recorded them and that's one version of it. Now we are going to go up on stage with just the two of us and take that spirit or feeling of a song and represent it in a live setting. I like that we can be loose with the songs in that way and hopefully the audience will come with us too.

Your shows have always had a pretty insane crowd, what is the craziest thing anyone has done?

I would say from our perspective, we were playing in Oslo and between songs someone threw something in Dean's direction. And we were like "Oh, that's not that unusual". And then I went over and picked it up and it was a make your own dildo kit! I want to say DIY because you had to make your own dildo, but it wasn't like someone made it at home, it was something you could buy from a sex shop. You would make like a plaster cast, stick your penis in and then it would harden and make a cast of your own penis. So that is definitely pretty weird.

I want to know who is bringing that to a show…

You would think that it wouldn't be allowed in. They went through all the trouble of carrying that around. I don't think they just happened to have that in their bag, it's not like a shoe you can just throw. I think it was intentional.

I think Dean might have an overly attached girlfriend lurking somewhere in Norway. Back to the record, you guys have been manufacturing the vinyl and packaging yourself, right?

Yeah, we worked with Brian Roettinger who has been our main collaborator for all things graphic design. We were talking about these ideas and fun ways of designing this thing, we wanted it to really feel like An Object. So we talked about it for a while and we went to the furthest reaches of ideas where it was going to be like a sculpture. But then it just felt too progressive rock or something. So what we ended up doing was we created a double-sided printed sleeve to send to a studio and print.

We designed the shape of it and the single piece of card stock, and then when we got them back they required 4 folds almost like an envelope. So we did 5000 of each and the CD is like a miniature version of the LP. The design probably took about 4 weeks and then the actual assemblage took about 4 days.

And that adds a whole other dimension to actually owning the record.

I hope so, that's kind of the way we felt about it. We are still fans of physical records. Most people just turn on Spotify or Pandora and it is just on in the background. I don't know, is it too egotistical or too self important to think that your album is worth buying? We committed all our time to making it so we wanted to feel like it was worth it or something that we would buy.

Talking of doing stuff yourself, what do you think of the whole DIY scene at the moment?

I think it's awesome, I feel like DIY as a term is broad, about as broad as you can get. The idea of doing something yourself doesn't necessarily describe a sound. You know, doing something from the ground up. This idea of independence and craftsmanship is how I look at it. So I would say it came from a place of necessity more than an aesthetic choice.

Starting out as a band that no one knew or really cared about, no one was offering us a record deal or to book our tour or to make t-shirts for us, but those were all things we wanted to do. If no one else would do it, we had to do it ourselves. We figured out how to contact venues and be like "Hey! We are a band that no one knows we but sound loud and drink beer" - and they would say "No" and then we would find someone on the internet who had shows in their warehouse or basement. For whatever reason we found a community that would appreciate that.

'An Impression' sounds like the perfect soundtrack to a personal movie montage; do you ever make a song with an image in mind?

Sometimes an image will sort of come in the beginning, but with this record there wasn't so much specific images, the songs usually evolved over time. With 'An Impression', I was working on a video that Dean and I made for the song, it was a lot of images of us making the album or doing things in the studio. It would be like a video clip of Dean saying something and then I would slow it down and suddenly it was like a montage of Dean and there was this feeling of "Oh man, is he gonna die?"

It was just so sad, seeing a montage of somebody's face mixed with that music behind it, like "Ah, I miss that guy". It really feels like it was a memorial or final send off to somebody with that song. That was never really our intention, but once you started putting images to it, it very much had that feel.

What's on your playlist at the moment?

Well, I had a funny circumstance, I came out here to go to a friends wedding and actually the day before we left he asked if I would DJ at his wedding as well. So I was like "Oh, okay. Let me see what I can put together". So I went through and I was trying to pull together a bunch of songs. I found Elvis, 'Fly from Hawaii', which is kind of an amazing aloha Elvis, like a 1972 special and this big entry music. The cliché Elvis entrance and it actually sounds incredible. I was looking at all that kind of stuff, like Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5.

So what did you have playing at your wedding?

For whatever reason, when I was a kid there was a song on the Tom Waits album, Rain Dogs, called 'Hang Down Your Head' and I don't how old I was - probably 14 or something - and I thought this is the song I want to dance to at my wedding. I gave into that 14-year-old instinct and put that on there. Kind of melancholy but a really pretty song for whatever reason, it is a beautiful song and that whole album is great. We danced to that.

Do you still get time to skate and do your own stuff?

I haven't skated for a while because I am a little bit injury prone. I have dislocated my right shoulder since I was a teenager to a point where everything was pulled out. I had surgery a few years back to reattach my shoulder. And then my left shoulder popped out at a show with Bradford Cox from Deerhunter and Dan Deacon. There was a very sad looking video of that, so those types of things happen whilst dancing. Then somewhere close to 25 when I had to pay for my own health insurance and things just hurt for a lot longer, I stopped throwing myself down stairs or ramps. I will still ride down to the post office or to pick something up but not really to do a bunch of tricks.

I guess this is the most important question; do you guys still have a shit load of fun?

Yes! That is the perfect description of it - that is the goal. Unfortunately, we deal with about as much grown up stuff as anyone else but I still allow myself to have a lot of fun. It's the reason we do it.


An Object is out August 20th via Sub Pop.