No Age’s Dean Spunt talks new album, Neon Reverb and more

No Age headlines the Bunkhouse on March 9.
Photo: Aaron Farley / Courtesy

After going five years without a new album, LA punks No Age just released Snares Like a Haircut, and the duo will bring its supporting tour to Las Vegas as part of Neon Reverb. We caught up with drummer/vocalist Dean Spunt to talk about fresh music, fatherhood and keeping things DIY.

You guys were really influential in the LA punk scene, especially at the all-ages venue the Smell. How have things changed since you were in the trenches a decade ago? I feel like we’re still in the trenches. Tours were grueling, we just played all over, we gained a lot of fans, but maybe there weren’t as many bands and there wasn’t as much good music out there available to people. It’s grueling in a different way now. I feel like people are spread thin; the audience and the fans have to really choose what they want to see. That wasn’t the case back then if you were into DIY—those bands weren’t coming to your town, or you’d have to look really hard to find them.

Snares Like a Haircut is your first album in five years, and in that time you and guitarist Randy Randall both became fathers. How has that impacted your music and tour schedule? We took time off before we were having kids, but I feel like it’s changed in two ways. Personally, for me, I feel like it’s focused me more and made me similarly relaxed. It’s not that I don’t have to push as hard, but a lot of the little things that would bother me in the past about playing music professionally don’t bother me as much anymore, because I have this human being that I’m taking care of that I’m with everyday, so that seems really important. Professionally, it has changed. We’ve tried to tour less, and that’s still an experiment. We came from the school of touring for eight weeks, and constantly going on the road.

Have these changes influenced anything on the new record? The easy answer is yes, because how could it not? It’s influenced everything. In a way, it made me just simplify my process, and I think that comes through on this record. I just let things happen and didn’t try to fight anything, and maybe things didn’t go as I planned, but the outcome came out good.

In the studio, the approach was to get in and get out. We had planned a tour prior to recording, to play all the new songs we’d written, and then we got back, we recorded ’em quick and didn’t think too much about it. The last record was mainly a studio record … and [with] a lot of the other albums maybe we didn’t have as much time to sit and develop the songs. We had a lot more time to actually sit and write and think about these tracks.

You guys are playing an independent festival here called Neon Reverb. Why is it important for you to continue supporting local efforts even as the band has gotten bigger? Well, versus the alternative, which is [the big] promoters. And that world’s sh*tty. It’s not about art, and it’s not about community. I feel like once you get in that world—we’ve played those types of concerts in the past, and I don’t know what the point of it is. I mean, money, but I’m not really into money. I’m much more into creating atmospheres and art and communicating with people rather than playing a big festival. I don’t actually enjoy big festivals. But do I like DIY festivals. It just feels important to support those things.

Your label, Drag City, doesn’t offer its music on Spotify. How do you feel about that? It’s funny, I don’t have Spotify, so I didn’t really think about it. They explained it to us that they aren’t on Spotify because they don’t pay the artists well, and I appreciated that—that they feel like it’s a sh*tty deal for people making art. That being said, honestly it doesn’t matter to me that much, because I just want people to hear the music. I don’t think music needs to be paid for. If you’re going to download it, I don’t have a problem with that. You’re going to support the artist one way or another if you really like it.

So what’s your main medium for listening to music? Generally at home, I only listen to vinyl, because it’s all I have set up. If I do listen on the computer, if someone tips me off to something, I’ll look it up and find it on YouTube—and then I seek out the record. I’m not a record collector … I don’t hunt things down; I usually find things at a thrift store or a record store and find music that way and let it naturally influence me.

If I were to go through a record crate of recent spins, what would I find? I have been listening to reggae—that’s been a big influence since I was a kid. This is weird, my son picked out a 7-inch and there’s this band Le Shok that were from Long Beach in the late ’90s and I haven’t heard that since around that time. I don’t know if he was into it, but then he picked out another 7-inch, “Sheila Take a Bow,” from The Smiths, and he liked that.

No Age With U.S. Girls, Sego, Hidden Levels. March 9, 8 p.m., $15. Bunkhouse Saloon, 702-982-1764.

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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