By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
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Dean Spunt, drummer/vocalist for unconventional rock band No Age, doesn't mind being referred to as a punk rocker. After all, Spunt was first inspired by the likes of Hüsker Dü and The Minutemen, bands that were initially lumped in with American hardcore punk of the '80s, but quickly distinguished themselves from the standard three-chord shouters of the day.
"Those guys were experimental," says Spunt. "They were radical and avant-garde."
Spunt feels that things are different today; many bands eschew the experimentation that made punk so vital.
"Punk these days has turned into pop music," says Spunt. "Our music is pretty catchy, but we're still weird."
Weird can hardly begin to describe Nouns, the recently released sophomore effort from this exceptional Los Angeles duo. Forming in 2005, No Age has quickly become a critical darling and has garnered a growing fan base by making music decidedly out of the norm. Drummer Spunt and guitarist Randy Randall create a hell of a racket that fitfully mixes and mingles with inventive use of samples and tape loops.
"Randy and I decided that we wanted to make a different kind of music," Spunt says matter-of-factly. And indeed they do. Songs such as "Miner" and "Teen Creeps" feature the pounding percussion and raucous guitars commonly associated with punk, but also offer sonic textures and odd production flourishes that have more in common with legendary post-punkers Sonic Youth.
"As far as comprehensibility goes, we go song by song, doing whatever each track calls for," says Spunt. Oftentimes, that means vocals buried in the mix, abrupt shifts in tempo and whatever else Spunt and Randall can conjure up.
"I always just tell people who haven't heard us that we are punk," Spunt says. "To be honest, I just don't want to sound like any other band."
And for most of Nouns (as well as Weirdo Rippers, No Age's debut) Spurt and Randall revel in their distinctiveness. Perhaps a bit unfocused at times, and definitely capable of an unforgiving level of volume, No Age is truly punk in both spirit and execution, recalling the anarchic intensity that made bands like The Sex Pistols seem so dangerous.
"Punk was my inspiration," Spunt says. "I just don't want to dress like a punk rocker."
And although No Age has made many positive inroads as a duo, Spunt says he and Randall have thought about adding a member in the future. But not quite yet.
"We're not at the point where we need another person," he says. "Besides, it would cost more to tour with someone else."