Set to play Shoreditch's XOYO tomorrow, the hardcore LA duo return to talk cops and pop
LA's finest twosome, No Age, having played massive tour dates all summer like Field Day festival will be gracing the bill at London's XOYO amidst their upcoming European and US tour. The guys who call legendary venue The Smell home alongside bands like HEALTH and Silver Daggers combine indie rock sounds with hardcore DIY ethics. We speak to Dean Allen Spout and Randy Randall about cops and power pop. Spout offers: "A cop called me a pussy. I was like: 'What? You're a cop. You're so weird.' But the cops seem worse in LA than say, New York. But then I've only been arrested in LA. Twice, during protests against the Iraq war"...
Dazed Digital: How political are you?
Randy: Well we don't make political art but I'm as political as any person could be – or should be – having an awareness of what's going on. You know, we want to be able to speak about what's going on. There's a strange thing, at least in America where it sort of feels like if you're not a politician or a professional you shouldn't have any opinion on politics. I don't think you have to be a scholar to know what's going on especially when theres laws that effect you. But that said, people in the entertainment industry shouldn't have an opinion because they're dumb artists.
Dean: We have personal views about politics and we could use our platform to talk to people... but I've never been into someone telling me what to do. If you respect someone and then learn about their views it might stick with you more. I think if anything, we don't really have an agenda, I think it's more the way we run our 'organisation'. Within the music community, people notice the way we do things.
DD: And you don't have a manager...
Dean: No, we don't have a manager. Never had one. Never thought about it until recently people said 'you guys are popular, you don't have a manager'? We just come up with decisions on our own. And the managers we've talked to can't answer the basic question: 'What do you do'. We have an assistant who does the organising.
Randy: It would feel like you're working for someone, even though they're working for you – technically.
DD: Maybe it's because so many bands are really young.
Dean: Yeah but also it's very English. We've noticed young bands here who've just started, they've played like one show and they're like “oh, here's our manager'. We just think, what's your intention, you know...
Randy: Yeah, it feels like in order to be famous you need to have a manager. But our goal was never to be famous.
Dean: We just want to make things, make art, make music. We're trying to make a statement with the way we run things. And when people notice that's cool. That's where our politics are.
DD: I can hear elements of power pop in your music, do you listen to much of that?
Dean: Yeah power pop's good.
Randy: Yes and also part of the process of writing is listening to stuff like Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello.
Dean: and Squeeze. Power pop, yeah, but I've never really been a fan of 60s garage.
Randy: Power pop is able to tread the path of well-known song-writing, with elements of straight rock n roll songs but subverts. them a little, with interesting progressions of chords. There's a wit to it.
Dean: Yeah I like how power pop takes these confines and messes with it.
DD: One thing that appeals to a lot of people about your music is that it seems like you're led by the urge to experiment.
Dean: We're not interested in making something that would remind you too much of something else. Music that alludes to something else, OK, but we want to make music that when it's laid out it's unique, it's new. We're big on feeling. They way a song makes you feel, dissecting a song – how come it makes you feel like that? Is it the chords? Is it the vocals? The way it's recorded? There are a lot of things that make a song sound a certain way. I think people may miss that when they rip stuff off...
DD: And how about your non-musical influences?
Randy: We're influenced by so much, but especially the 70s Californian artists Chris Burden and Paul McCarthy.
Dean: That stuff hit me super hard when I was younger.
Randy: Something subversive, that shook up the confines of the strict art world serves as a points of departure for us. We think: “What would Paul McCarthy do on this song?” We run it through that filter, how can we recreate that feeling with that song. Is it possible to use that feeling to write a song?
Dean: I also feel really influenced by people who make their own stuff, and DIY in general, people who make their own stuff. Like our friend Wendy has a store in LA called Ooga Booga - she sells what she wants, she doesn't compromise. Anyone who makes stuff, using their own instincts. We try to relate that to the way we're running our band.
Randy: Just people who make stuff. Good ideas don't go out of style.
Interview by Shiona Tregaskis
No Age is playing London's XOYO Thursday October 14