No Age: Dean Spunt on Skating, Multi-tasking & Being Vegan
L.A. based noise-punk band No Age had the year in 2010. They had some nice tours and their third album, Everything in Between, wound up on plenty of year-end lists. The duo started 2011 even better, appearing on The Late Show With David Letterman, where they performed their single "Fever Dreaming."
The band was set to play Tempe in December, but canceled and rescheduled for this week, which finds them playing Grand Avenue's Trunk Space on Sunday.
Yes, a band that played Letterman earlier this month will be at itty-bitty Trunk Space. Pretty wild!
The band have played there before, and drummer/vocalist/songwriter Dean Spunt is looking forward to a sweaty, packed show. We discussed the bands D.I.Y. roots, touring, skating, veganism and whey he gets sick of being asked about The Smell all the time.
Click read more for the full story, and if you're unfamiliar with the band, check out their song, "Fever Dreaming."
DS: Hello? (mumbles)
NT: Hi, is this Dean?
NT: Hey, this is Jason with the Phoenix New Times.
NT: Are you all set for a quick interview?
DS: Yeah, I'm ready man.
NT: Right on. What are you up to?
DS: Right now we are watching our friend, our soundguy, skate.
NT: Sweet- (interrupted by a cheer from Spunt)
DS: WHOOOO! Sorry. Oh wait, sorry hold on a second.
(group laughs) Okay, hey.
NT: Where are you guys at?
DS: Uhhh, we are in Flordia, driving to Tallahasse.
NT: You guys are playing Trunk Space here. Have you guys played Trunk Space before?
DS: Yeah, a long time ago. Like, two or three years ago.
NT: The Trunk Space is kind of small for this size of a show.
DS: It's gonna be goooooood. It will be small, it will be crowded, it will be sweaty.
NT: Those are in the ingredients for a good No Age show, you think?
NT: As your profile raises, have you found yourself in a lot of packed venues?
DS: Yeah, dude, for the most part they've been super packed.
NT: You guys come from a heavy DIY culture, associated with the Smell in L.A. and I wonder as the band profile raises, it must be interesting to sort of see those worlds clash. The Trunk Space isn't unlike the Smell here.
DS: Exactly. Yeah.
NT: Through the history of your band, you guys have made it a point to play nontraditional venues. As you guys have blown up more, has it been harder to do things like playing under bridges or house shows?
DS: Not so much. That shit is easy to do, but you feel obligated to not do that sometimes.
NT: Because you want to play to as many people that want to see you?
DS: Well, when 2 or 300 hundred people want to see you. It's not difficult to set up, but when you are going there to play to a bunch of people and you want it to look nice, and sound nice, you're like, 'maybe we shouldn't do this DIY thing. It just depends. It's fun for us to do it [that way] but I don't want to do that every night, that would get old. But it's definitely more fun. You know what, can I ask you a question, man?
[At this point, Dean explains that its his turn at the wheel, and arranges for me to call him back later in the evening.]
NT: Hey Dean, it's Jason with Phoenix New Times.
DS: What's up man, how is it going?
NT: Good. You ready to rock?
DS: Thanks for calling me back.
NT: No problem, I know there's a lot of stuff going on out there.
DS: Cool man, let's do it.
NT: Are you guys touring with a third member?
DS: Yes, yes we are.
NT: Who is he, and what is he playing?
DS: His name is Fhaqundo Bermudez. He's playing samples. [Other interviews have indicated the tour member's name is William Kai Strangeland-Menchaca, so a grain of salt is most likely necessary].
NT: So you guys were previously triggering samples yourself, you and Randy?
DS: The new record has more samples, more intricate parts, and we were just like, ah fuck, we need someone to help trigger this stuff.
NT: But the record is just you two creating everything?
NT: So you play keys and samples.
DS: Yeah, both Randy and I make stuff and work with it before songs.
NT: Was that something you did before No Age?
DS: Yeah, for sure. I made samples with our old band Wives. It got me interested in it, and by the end of Wives I was messing around with a lot. I play drums live, but I feel like I play samples as much [on the record]. When I write stuff, I don't ever write songs on guitar or bass, I just write on samplers.
NT: The new record has a lot of atmospheric stuff, and blends that with the traditional punk rock template. So, you didn't have a third member for Letterman?
DS: No, that song, specifically, "Fever Dream," that's one where Randy plays his guitar and has a sample that he triggers, there's that weee-ooo-eee-ooo sample I trigger with a foot pedal. It's all that, so basically, I run it through a Roland drum patch sampler and I can kick it on.
NT: It's cool that that stuff will come across live.
DS: We started playing around after the record was done, and we were like, we really are going to need someone. When were were triggering everything ourselves [it got to the point] where I was like, 'how much do I need to do?' [between playing drums, triggering samples and singing] I might as well be doing sound, be the sound guy. I got to concentrate on singing and drumming. I still trigger some shit with my foot though, cause, I like that.
NT: Do you feel pretty secure with just you and Randy creating the recorded aspects of the band? Do you see yourselves moving toward having other members in the studio?
DS: No, I don't think. I feel like we have a lot to get out. I mean, we work well with other live, but recorded, me and Randy have a very inuitive thing, and we have tried playing with others, but its just difficult to add someone into the mix.
NT: I know you guys have collaborated with people in the past, like Bob Mould. I was curious if that influenced you guys toward more members in the band.
DS: I like the idea of us playing with Mike Watt, or Bob Mould, but as No Age, me and Randy like collaborating as me and Randy. We like collaborating in general, we've collaborated with a skate company and a made a shoe. We've collaborating with our friends making a film.
NT: You don't limit the idea of collaboration to music.You guys were skating earlier when I called. Is skating a big thing to you guys personally?
DS: Ah, I mean, we just kind of mess around. We don't skate much on our trip, but skating influenced the way I view the world. Skaters learn to be individuals on their skate board, they see a set of stairs or a curb, and its such a challenge to them. It's rebellious. Your sport is kind of illegal. We both great up skating, in that culture.
NT: You don't do it a ton on tour?
DS: Naw, it's not smart.
NT: You can't break an ankle or a wrist. It's not like you guys do your thing with a broken ankle. Maybe you could, you could come up with enough samples.
DS: Ha, yeah.
NT: So before I ask, how sick do you get of people asking about your veganism?
DS: I don't mind it at all. You know, what I do get sick of is, is people asking about the Smell. It's like, it's a club, you know?
NT: I referenced the Smell earlier.
DS: Haha, no, I mean, it's just always the same. People can ask whatever you want, but it's like, what do you want to know about it? It's a club. People turn it into this ideal, and I could talk about that, but The Smell is a place that is awesome, but...veganism is an ideal.
NT: Is it hard to be vegan on the road? I guess it probably isn't, you've been doing it awhile.
DS: It's pretty easy. It's not difficult, but it can get annoying at times. But I welcome annoying. People have it way worse. I choose to be vegan, so I can't complain.We have nuts and fruits, and some treats, cookies, things like that.
NT: It probably helps a lot to eat healthy on the road, considering all the additional stresses you put on yourself.
DS: It does. I take my vitamins every day. I take multi vitamin, I take vegan glucosemy, I have a fucked up knee from skating, I take flaxseed, seaweed oil, and a B12. And then, on top of that, I take Wellness. Do you know what that is?
NT: No, I'm don't.
DS: It's a natural mix of garlic and ginger, and so much stuff just packed into this vitamin...As you get older, you figure out what you like to eat. Being vegan really makes you think about food more. When you eat the western american diet, you eat whatever you want, and when you go vegetarian, you minus meat, when you go vegan, you really open up the world of food. It's way more fun to eat. You don't just put something in your mouth, you wonder what you are doing for the planet, and try Thai food, African food, Indian food. Stuff you never would have tried.