If you haven’t already got your stinking mitts on the leak, you should be wrapping your ears round Nouns (review), LA oiks No Age’s debut outing proper following the release of EP collection Weirdo Rippers (review) last year, when it’s released through Sub Pop next week.
Picking at pieces from their hardcore incarnation as Wives, Nouns was recorded in equal parts LA to London, with a dissonant drone squall squaring up to FM stadium rock. We spoke to Randy Randall (guitar) and Dean Spunt (drums/vox) about their SY-cum-MBV pop noise nugget-by-nugget.
Dean Spunt: This song starts the record off well. It wasn't the original starter, but we decided last minute it would set a good pace. The sample in the beginning that runs through the whole song is something I made from a tambourine and Randy’s guitar when he was just messing around. The part in the middle where the drums sound different is actually a tape recording of the drums on a little kinda broken cassette recorder we found.
Randy Randall: I really like the pacing of this song. Like Dean said it was not originally meant to go first, but as soon as I heard it come on the car stereo as the first song I thought what a rad and fucked up way to start a record. I think we originally had ‘Errand Boy’ starting the record, which is maybe a little too predictable.
DS: This was maybe the first song we wrote for the record. Maybe? I think Randy had that guitar part for a while before we wrote it. The sample I play in it is my voice; then when the kick drum comes in I sampled some of Randy’s guitar through some effects and EQ. It’s about getting money from car crashes. Recorded in London at Southern, Harvey (Birrell) really captured this song well.
RR: I think this was a song that could have almost been recorded during the EP recording sessions but it was just never really finished. We finished it to take with us and play live on tour last summer in Europe with Mika Miko. I am really psyched on how the recording turned out. If you listen to the very beginning that is Chris Tipton from Upset The Rhythm (label profile) talking to Dean about kale being our favourite vegetable and he says “Yeah, it’s kinda like cabbage isn’t it”. They were talking in the kitchen at Southern while I was recording the acoustic guitar in the hallway and it turned upon the recording. Also, the song used to end with me saying “Awesome!” right at the end, but we cut that out cause it got annoying after the 100th listen.
DS: I love this song. I remember when we wrote it as soon as randy started playing the notes, I was like “YES!!!” Pretty simple song actually. Lyrically I like it a lot. Teen Creeps was the name of a band that was around when I was in High School. They played like two shows and I don't remember them at all but the name always stuck with me. A highlight is the ‘tail’ at the end, maybe the last thing we recorded for the whole record.
RR: This song is really fun to play. I have to do like a bar C chord thing for half the song and that little solo thing at the beginning and middle part. I’m always afraid I’ll fuck up live, so people should come out to our live shows this summer and see if I’ll fuck it up.
‘Things I Did When I Was Dead’
DS: One of my favourite songs we have ever made and one of the last things we recorded for the record at home, like, a day before we mastered it. Randy made the sample and it just kinda wrote itself. It is weird how the guitar sounds like piano. It isn’t piano. And there are no drums in the whole song. I love when that happens.
RR: After we finished recording all the songs at Infrasonic, I was playing around with sampling stuff at home and I came up with what is essentially the backing track or rhythm track from a variety of different classical or string parts on different records and playing the 808 like a keyboard and layering different patterns on top of each other. The guitar part comes form this Psychic TV song that was on this girl’s MySpace page who I totally had a huge crush on and I would keep going back to her page to leave her messages or comments and this song would pop up every time and so I eventually sort of figured it out on the guitar. I think they play the steel drum or something but I figured out something that I thought sounded like it. When I later played it for her, she didn’t recognise it, so I guess it is okay we made it into one of our own songs.
DS: This started out as a drum part I ripped off from Wreckless Eric, but turned into something totally different - a very nice moment on the record. The title refers to Ray Cappo from Youth of Today and Shelter, for no other reason than we thought it was funny. We see him at the Hare Krishna temple in LA quite a bit. He always has funny stories about straight edge and touring and whatnot.
RR: I had a lot of fun writing this part ‘cause it allowed me to do some different stuff in the song writing process. Cool melodies played in a different higher key than normal. I had another part that sounded really Beach Boys-ish but I had to cut it out, it just didn't fit.
‘Keechie’ DS: Another song recorded at Southern. This was originally maybe two minutes longer, but we edited it and made it shorter, a very beautiful piece written mainly by Randy. The only thing I do is that sort of tense buzz and static sound that shuts on and off. This song ends side one of the LP - PERFECT ENDING!
RR: This was something I had been playing around with during sound checks. It is something I wrote on the loop pedal. I really wanted there to be room on the record so this was a breathing space in between all the hectic pop songs.
‘Sleeper Hold’ D: This is a song we recorded/wrote at the book store, Family. Randy wanted to practise there so we could get different ideas by being in a new environment. We were there for a week, people would come in while we were writing, talk to us, jam with us. This song came out of that. I think it shows. The start of side two on the LP.
RR: We wrote this at the house one day when all of our friends were skating in the back yard. We told ourselves we had to practice and write a song so this is what came of it. But we didn't really have it finished ‘til we went to Family and practised for a week. I remember how psyched I was when it was finally done. Sammy came down from the loft at the store and was so into it and our friend Cali De Witt was there and he was really psyched. It was fun to have to write a song in front of people. Usually it is just me and Dean scratching our heads wondering if anyone will like what we just wrote, but for this song we could see it right away.
‘Errand Boy’ DS: Inspired by our friend Aaron Rose. He was curating an art exhibition where there were all these headphones in different trees in the park, and out of the headphones were different songs written for the art project. This song started off as that, but then we didn’t finish it in time, changed some things around and ended up on the record.
RR: This was on the extra day we had at Infrasonic and we were just playing around with sounds. Dean’s drums sound fucking huge. They were just all mic’d up and I was playing this guitar riff over and over. I like how it finally turned out. Like I said earlier, we originally thought this would be the opening track of the record, but I feel it works better here.
‘Here Should Be Home’
DS: We wanted to write a kind of weird late ‘70s power pop song but kind of twisted too. I wrote the lyrics while we were in London on tour with Mika Miko. We didn't write the song until months later, a very rare occasion, where I have lyrics and build a song around them.
RR: I was really trying to write a Nerves song. This is some bubblegum pop song writing. We also really loved this band The Colors and I feel like this is somewhere near their sensibility. The guitar part at the beginning is funny ‘cause I have to loop the melody part over myself on the loop station to play it live. I screwed myself with that one.
DS: An amazing piece, mainly guitar layering and a sample of some orchestrated music being pitch bent by Randy’s SP 808. It is actually being bent with the D-Beam function on the 808, a function we always laughed at and I bet the one and only time we will ever use it. It uses infrared beams and you move your hand over it like a Theremin to change pitches and octaves. It doesn’t sound too cool, but we got something great out of it.
RR: This was another one we wrote after recording was wrapped at Infrasonic. We felt the record needed something fun and mellow. When I was mixing it I was watching that computer-generated dancing baby from Ally McBeal. Just type in dancing baby on you tube and watch the baby dance in time with the song. It is amazing Dark Side Of The Moon/Wizard Of Oz shit!
DS: Inspired by The Gun Club. I thought it was a little too straight forward to go on the album, but Randy felt otherwise and we made a compromise by adding that ending on the song. Another sample made on Randy’s 808. I’m glad we put it on the record. The ending piece was originally a track on its own about three minutes long.
RR: I really feel like this is such a fun song to play live that I wanted it on the record so we could play it live for a couple of tours. This beginning part we had around since almost the EP days but it really did take a while to build the song to work with. I think Lilly Allen used a similar drum beat in one of her songs. When I heard hers I told Dean and we said we had to ditch the part but it eventually worked out.
‘Brain Burner’ DS: Awesome ender, straight up Wipers style punk with a twist. I love the drum sound. Recorded in East LA at Infrasonic, that drum sound is a combo of that same broken tape player, studio mic's and a Mini Disc player recording the drums, like a perfect trashy sound. Randy's guitar part is an instant classic. There’s a secret little ending on the vinyl version.
RR: I wrote this guitar riff at Chris Titpton’s house early one hungover morning sitting on the stairs waiting for Dean and Mika Miko to wake up. I was so psyched I even wrote the solo riff that same morning. It was a nice moment of solitude early in the morning to be alone with your thoughts before the day starts. Cool shit!
No Age’s Nouns is released on May 5 through Sub Pop; the band can be found on MySpace HERE. They play live as follows (further dates on MySpace):
11 Camber Sands ATP
13 Bristol Thekla
15 Brighton The Great Escape
16 Manchester Islington Mill
17 Leeds Nasty Fest
18 Glasgow Optimo
20 Dublin Whelans
21 London Garage
Photo by skateboard hero Ed Templeton.