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Art-punk confidential

No Age loves Joy Division but not Craig Ferguson



It's tough to say whether No Age will reach the level of notoriety attained by the post-punk and indie icons the band members grew up listening to, but stranger things have happened. Earlier this fall, the Los Angeles noise-rock duo opened for Sonic Youth and a reformed Pavement at the Hollywood Bowl, the storied amphitheater that hosted the Beatles on the group's first two American tours.

With its 17,000-plus capacity, the venue is a bit of a change from The Smell, a downtown L.A. gallery and performance space where No Age made its 2006 debut. Since then, they've been signed to the Sub Pop label, been written up about a dozen times on Pitchfork, and been taken by surprise when Radiohead's Colin Greenwood sported a No Age T-shirt during a concert webcast.

And then there's the Craig Ferguson appearance.

"Craig Ferguson is a racist," says Dean Spunt, who sings and plays drums alongside guitarist Randy Randall. "He was friends with Randy's mom, I think they dated, I'm not sure. And he didn't like Obama for whatever reasons, so Randy decided to fuck with him."

When the band was invited to perform on Ferguson's late-night television show, the guitarist showed up for the taping in an Obama T-shirt. He was then told he'd have to change out of it because of the FCC's Equal Time Rule.

In the lead-in to the pre-recorded performance, Ferguson reiterated the claim, becoming more and more frenetic as he told his audience how "this guy got really mad and he wrote a blog how he'd been censored and all that, and everybody got all mad, and it's awesome. I love it! Because they're a young punk band and they're causing trouble, and I'm like yeah! ..."

Spunt agrees that Ferguson's rant was both obnoxious and transparently self-serving. I ask him how relations with Ferguson are these days.

"I don't know, he's kinda Randy's guy. Well, not anymore, I think they were friends. But we don't support fascists."

As befits a duo that took its name from an SST punk-rock compilation and previously comprised two-thirds of the L.A. hardcore band Wives. ("No pigs in our house!" chanted the group on its 2004 debut single, "Wives Hate Police.")

While most guitar-drum duos stumble toward some semblance of blues-rock, No Age has no such inclinations. Everything In Between, its recently released second album for Sub Pop, juxtaposes catchy melodic hooks with layers of distorted guitar. "Valley Hump Crash," despite its name, is a low-fi pop delight that falls somewhere between Nikki Sudden and Ariel Pink, while "Glitter" opens with a drum-and-handclap beat leading into a vocal that brings Joy Division to mind.

So did Spunt secretly have an Ian Curtis poster on his wall growing up?

"Not secretly," he answers. "I really did like Joy Division. I still do. But that song was actually going for a more Slade, Suzi Quatro, Gary Glitter kind of glam beat. It's kind of the dumbest drumbeat. You hear it and you recognize it instantly. You're like, I know that! It sounds like 'Hey Mickey'! And then all of a sudden, you're like, Wait, what are these other sounds? That beat can draw you in, but everything else is pretty messed-up sounding."

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