No Age built themselves a reputation around 10 years ago as LA’s best noise rockers, founded on their relentless touring, idiosyncratic visual imagery, and a raging, joyful sound that combines hardcore punk with melodic shoegazing. They’ve been quiet for too long – but the drought is ending with their new album Snares Like a Haircut out this month. In anticipation, we caught up with guitarist Randy Randall to discuss the music that set him on his way.
The track that always reminds me of someone
When people would put a song on their MySpace page, every time I went to this person’s page to check in on them, in the pre-Instagram days, The Orchids by Psychic TV [Some Bizzare, 1983] would automatically play. So I always associated the person with the song. I thought it was beautiful, it’s so haunting and melodic. It influenced a song we did on Nouns – Things I Did When I Was Dead. And when I hear it now, oh my god, goosebumps. It’s amazing how music is like that, like a smell. It gives you a full body memory.
The track that taught me how to write a pop song
Up the Junction by Squeeze [A&M Records, 1979]. One of the ideas we had when we started No Age was to create a perfect pop song with the harshest noise sounds. Sounds that, if you heard them by themselves, you’d be like “God, this sounds like a car crash,” but made into an awesome pop earworm. We knew the noise side, but we didn’t really know how to construct a pop record. The band Squeeze was something that Dean [Spunt, No Age drummer/singer] and I both hit on at the same time. It was the first dawning of our non-ironic appreciation of pop music. We weren’t looking down our nose at it, we were like, “Wait, this band is writing amazing, thoughtful songs, and doing it in a way that’s really catchy.”
The roadtrip track
I had some friends that drove cross-country to LA from Massachusetts, and Mission of Burma’s Academy Fight Song [Ace of Hearts Records, 1980] was on their mixtape. I would get in their car and that song was always on. It reminds me a lot of being in college, driving around in a crappy Honda Civic, going to shows or house parties. It was always a goal to get out of town and go somewhere, do something. Something more interesting than whatever I was doing.
The track about a break-up
I got Chesterfield King by Jawbreaker [1992, Tupelo] on a mixtape from a girl when I was going on tour. She said, “Here, take this!”. I wasn’t really that familiar with Jawbreaker at the time, but I heard it and thought, oh, man, I wish we could figure this out. I think I even said, “Well, I’ll be home in a month!” And she said, “Yeah, I’m not waiting for you. But here’s this tape, take this tape with you.” It was like, what? It was kind of brutal.
The track that makes me miss people
Murphy Bed by Mirah [K Records] came out in 2000 – I hadn’t really been touring yet, but I wanted to be touring. It’s beautifully produced and recorded and engineered. The song is about longing for somebody that’s on tour, and missing them. The idea of a mixtape, for me, is so associated with girls or people who make a mixtape for you before you go away. It’s like there’s something you wanna tell somebody but you can’t, you don’t have the words to say it, so you make them a mixtape. Then you take it with you, and you listen to it, and you think aww, I miss this person, I wish they would have given me this tape earlier, I wish I could have done something different. All these songs have that kind of longing because that’s how mixtapes got used, in my life at least.
Snares Like a Haircut released 26 January via Drag City Record