Sure, there have been some notable musical duos in rock history, but not ones that get onstage by themselves and tear it up on a regular basis. Forget, if you can, that No Age’s drummer is also the lead singer (which is straight-up badass) and that the guitarist creates a wall of sound reminiscent of masterful sonic landscapes painted by J. Mascis, Kevin Shields, Brett Netson, and Sonic Youth’s deadly combo of Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo. But know that this band once played a show at the Yucca Tap Room in Tempe where the opening act was a live goat.
“The promoter brought a goat to open the show. The goat had these contact mics attached to its bell and it kept shitting everywhere. It was probably my favorite opening act ever,” drummer and lead vocalist Dean Spunt says.
A year later, No Age played with a band called The Goat when No Age headlined the Phoenix Pro/Am Skateboard event after party, which was at the Yucca as well.
Over the band’s career, they haven’t been strangers to odd occurrences.
“We played Olympia and we stayed at a house owned by the ‘Dark Dentist,’ who is apparently this dentist who owns a bunch of houses in the area and paints them all black,” Spunt says. “Our friend was renting the house, and the dark dentist dropped off a severed pig head that was in the yard when we woke up in the morning. It had flies all over it.”
Sounds like a good subject for a song, but it’s just a drop in the bucket for the slightly acerbic Spunt and the ever-congenial guitarist Randy Randall.
These two have done things and seen things that probably no other two-piece band has done in history. And seemingly? It’s all in a day’s work. Sometimes that day comes with a price, but No Age are committed to moving forward, despite the occasional setback.
“Somewhere in the midlands of England, we were playing a show and I crowd-surfed,” Randall recalls. “The kids from the crowd stole my shoes and when I got back on stage, I was like, ‘Okay. Give me my shoes.’ But they never did.”
Shoe theft aside, No Age have been one of the best hidden (in plain sight) gems in the realm of all that rocks, and the 13-year-old Los Angeles-based band just put out one of the early candidates for album of the year, Snares Like A Haircut, on Drag City Records.
Combining an elegant, Sonic Youth-ish mix of nasty and nice, the band create a musical landscape that belies the fact there are just two of them. Spunt’s lyrics give a nod to the perpetual summer of Southern California while containing the wisdom of a world traveler and the words weave in and out of the bands wall of sound in an infectious way. “Soft Collar Fad” should be on every radio everywhere. It’s that good, and it might not even be the best song on the record.
(Author’s note: As of this writing, the title of “Best Song on Snares Like A Haircut” is still being fought over, but the leader right now is probably “Secret Swamp.” Hell, the album starts, finishes, and middles so well … just listen to it.)
Hopefully there is no need for double knots in Phoenix, Mr. Randall. We’ll leave your shoes alone if you promise to play all our favorite No Age songs.
No Age are scheduled to perform at the Flying Burrito Festival on Saturday, March 10, at the Crescent Ballroom. The party starts at 4pm. Tickets are $12 and available at Ticketfly.