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No Age, the noise pop dealing, Smell-dwelling two man zeitgeist are back with this week with new EP Losing Feeling. The first new material from the band since last year’s Nouns album the EP is a rip-roaring return from the LA band. DiS caught up with Randy Randall to talk about the band's new material, touring with Deerhunter, Hüsker Dü, Wavves Vs Black Lips, No Age’s favourite British bands and the incident literally nobody is calling ‘Obama t-shirt gate’.
DiS: Are you looking forward to coming to Britain next week?
Randy Randall: Yeah it’s going to be great. We came over twice last year and can’t wait to get back because we really love our friends in England.
DiS: You just finished the tour in America with Dan Deacon and Deerhunter. How did that go?
RR: It was amazing, we had such a fun time. We’ve known Dan and Bradford and the crew for such a long time but never done a proper tour together so it was a great opportunity to spend time with our friends on the road. We also got to collaborate a lot too so we all learnt to play with each other and each others' songs. It was the closest we’ll come to collaborating without being ‘Jazzbo’s’.
DiS: How exactly did the round robin element of the tour work?
RR: Basically there was no headline band and the whole performance was the main attraction. So each band would play a song and then switch so we opened with a Deerhunter song then a No Age song then a Dan Deacon song another Deerhunter before a couple of long songs from Dan again before we finished with a No Age song. It was sporadic.
DiS: Would you like to bring something similar to Britain?
RR: It would be amazing but it’s really a matter of logistics. The tour was a short one for America in that it was only ten dates but that could totally work in Britain because that would get you all over. There are no plans as of yet but it’s definitely something we’d like to do.
DiS: The new No Age EP Losing Feeling is out this week. When was that written and recorded?
RR: We’ve been writing in between tours for about a year now for what will eventually become the next full record. We got these songs from those sessions though and liked them, thought they worked well together and decided to put them out as an EP.
DiS: How far along is the next album?
RR: It’s pretty much written actually. We like to keep things loose until the final mix so the structures may and probably will change from now and when the record is released but we have the songs ready to record. We’re hoping to get in the studio by the end of the year, we want to be tracking it by the start of next year for definite.
DiS: So Summer 2010 is a good estimate for the release date?
RR: I hope so, that’s definitely what we’re shooting for.
DiS: You performed with Bob Mould earlier this year. How did you meet him and how did you become friends?
RR: Yeah we played with him at ATP in New York and it was amazing. It was so funny for us because we’re totally not used to the whole festival scene with loads of bands hanging out together backstage, but we were at Primavera in 2008 and Dean [Spunt, drummer/singer] met Bob there and just kept in touch. He’s a really amazing, awesome guy and we emailed each other on and off for a while. Then when we were in San Francisco he was also there and he said we should do a song together as an encore so we did ‘Miner’ and ‘New Day Rising’. After the show he said how he’d had a great time and that we should do it again so we did a few more together- he’s an amazing guy.
DiS: Did he give you any advice or have you learnt anything from being around him?
RR: I’ve learnt so much from him. He has so many amazing stories about touring and Hüsker Dü so me and Dean would just be asking him about things all the time like "What were Black Flag like?", "What about this and that?" y’know? He made a real effort to talk to us about stuff but he has a book coming out that’s going to be incredible so some time when we’d ask about something he’d just say “Wait and read the book”. So I can’t wait to read that book. We talked a lot about writing songs too and he tells me about these amazing songs he wrote when he was like 24 and I’m 28 already and nowhere near his supernova levels of ability- he’s just an amazing guy.
DiS: How do you feel about noise pop and lo-fi music at the moment? It seems to be everywhere you look.
RR: I don’t really read a lot of blogs or websites so a lot of it passes me by but the thing with No Age and the music we make is that it was never something we set out to so. The reason our early recordings sound the way they did is that we had to use equipment that was free because we had practically no money at all so we had a certain lo-fidelity for that reason. As time's gone on though we’ve got a little more money and have been able to get in a studio and enjoy both sides of it. I’m a big fan of the shoe-gaze element of the lo-fi music that’s around at the moment though, there’s something about the whole bedroom recordings that’s dreamy and I really like that. When people say 'lo-fi' they tend to mean you’re not trying. We like to make records sound as good as they possibly can and as noisy too.
Video: No Age: 'Losing Feeling' (unofficial vid)
DiS: Do you worry that some bands might adopt the aesthetic because it’s a good way to get ahead?
RR: I don’t tend to worry about other bands too much. If they do decide to do things for that reason then that’s their business I don’t like to comment on other people unless they cover our music. There was a string band who covered ‘Eraser’ actually! It was the least lo-fi thing you’ve ever heard which was beautiful. There was a violin playing the vocal melodies- it was incredible.
DiS: I like your cover of ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ by Bjork…
RR: That was a lot of fun actually. We don’t tend to do covers that aren’t punk songs but I enjoyed taking that apart and messing around with it.
DiS: How do you feel when bands from the same ‘scene’ for want of a better word, start fighting like Black Lips and Wavves and also Psychadelic Horseshit who personally criticised No Age?
RR: It feels more like a hip-hop thing like Biggie Vs Tupac although it’s probably not as frightening as that. I think everyone has the right to express their opinion and I enjoy the gossip. I don’t know about you but I like knowing which bands don’t like each other and it’s not like it’s a new thing is it? Bands have been hating on each other for ever.
DiS: The view from Britain looking in on America is of a very tight knit group of bands who all know each other and work together in a community. What is the American view of the British equivalent? Do you listen to a lot of UK music?
RR: We’re all big fans of Los Campesinos!, we toured with those guys on the Shred Yr Face tour last year which was amazing. There’s a label called Upset The Rhythm which has been a big help to our band from the very beginning and what they do is really awesome and we’ve got to know a lot of people through that. Lovvers are really awesome and there’s another great band called PENS we all like too who just did some dates in America with Crocodiles. There’s certainly some great bands in the UK right now, I’m just getting into this band Male Bonding too; I think they’re coming over here next month to record in Brooklyn.
DiS: Finally, after the whole 'Obama T-shirt gate’ last year [Randall was forbidden from wearing a t-shirt in support of the then presidential candidate on a US chatshow last year] how do you feel about people seeing No Age as a political band?
RR: I’m not sure how it's being seen in terms of who I am or who the band is. It’s not unfortunate but it’s a sign of the times that politics is really affecting all of our lives in a way that it hasn’t in recent years. There are a lot of issues on the table right now, things like the healthcare measure, that will have a huge effect on mine and everyone else in America’s life. So for anyone to say they’re not political it’s almost unbelievable. You don’t have to be watching the 24 hour news feeds and know everything but some sort of awareness is almost mandatory in my mind, it’s certainly a responsibility. We’re a ‘democratic’ society and if you don’t play your part you can’t piss on it when it all goes wrong. That’s my personal view but as far as the band go we’re certainly not looking to ruffle Rage Against The Machine’s feathers, that’s for sure.
Losing Feeling is out now and reviewed here. The band play the following UK and Ireland dates:
19 London, Scala
21 Manchester, Deaf Institute
24 Dublin, Crawdaddy
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