mxdwn Interview: Randy Randall of No Age On New Ambient Album and the Peacefulness of Freeway Traffic

Los Angeles life is chaotic: traffic, work, traffic, work. So what do Angelinos do to relax and de-stress? Hop right back into their car and go on a road trip! Randy Randall, of Los Angeles punk band No Age, has released Sound Field Volume 1, an ambient music album inspired by a road trip down the 10 freeway starting in Santa Monica and ending in Palm Springs. The peaceful sounds are accompanied by visuals from filmographer Aaron Farley. Randall took the time to speak with us about the new ambient project, his influences for Sound Field Volume 1 and his plans for the future.

mxdwn: What came first? Did the video inspire the music or the music inspire the video?

Randy Randall: It was really done in tandem. I would create some sounds and (Aaron Farley) and I would go out and shoot a bunch of video stuff. Then [we’d] come home and edit it, and then he would lay in the stuff that I had already made to that. And I’m like, ‘Ooh I think my music could kind of change and be a better fit for this.’ I would sort of change the mood with what [Farley] would get. So it was really amazing and spontaneous at the same time.

mxdwn: It’s a super-peaceful album, do you think that it’s a byproduct of some newfound inner peace or maybe searching for inner peace within the chaos of L.A.?

RR: Oh man. I don’t know. I love L.A. I grew up in LA. I’m used to the long-form driving, you know? You have to be on the freeway for hours to go anywhere, so for me, that’s kind of been my time to relax. You know, contemplate the day or have a peaceful moment. I think it’s kind of reflective of this idea of being on a long highway. Being on a long drive from the desert to the beach.

Photo Credit: Amelia Osowski

mxdwn: Are you guys going to do a video for each track?

RR: Yeah, we’re doing one for each track, I think they’re just putting them out one-by-one before the record. Once the record comes out, the whole video will be shown. I also had an art installation at 1700 Naud at Monster Children Gallery in Chinatown. The gallery is a really cool immersive experience. Also, I played at the Zebulon in April. Then I’m going on tour after that.

mxdwn: How do you anticipate that live show is going to be different than performing with Dean, your No Age band mate?

RR: We’ve performed with other bands along the years. He and I have had other projects going on… a lot of side projects. It’s always fun to try something different. I think it’s a lot more of a peaceful experience. You know, because there’s no drums and it’s not like loud punk songs. I think it’s really cool when I’ve done it in the past. Sort of a trying to sit down and chill out and feel what’s going on.

Photo Credit: Shane Lopes

mxdwn: I know No Age is considered a noise-rock band. Do you think you brought any vibes from No Age to Sound Field Volume 1? Do you think you’re going to take any vibes from this album back into your No Age work?

RR: No Age has always had my kind of constitution for songwriting. It’s always been this layer of guitar sound, so I think that’s evident in the solo record…an evolution or continuation. We’ve always had at least one ambient song per record. So this was my chance to kind of create something otherworldly and kind of ambient. I think for sure going into the next record that me and Dean are working on right now, the experience of getting these long form instrumental pieces will totally have an effect on it. It’s a pendulum swing, you know. Maybe some short, fast, punky songs after I got the 42 minutes of ambient out of my system. Now we can play punk songs, or you know, somewhere in between.

mxdwn: Who would you recommend this album to? Before I even watched the visuals, I was thinking to myself: man, this is something L.A. people need to be listening to in traffic. So when I saw the video that’s exactly what I had in mind.

RR: You feel it, right!? I think it’s great to have it on in the car while you’re driving or at home while you’re cooking. My wife and I kinda put it on, once I got the test presses, we put it on while we’re making dinner. You know, Sunday morning while you’re waking up having your coffee it’s really nice. Maybe on Spotify you could put it on at your work, just have it on in the background. It’s a mellow easy-going kind of soundtrack for everyday life.

mxdwn: What influenced you to go down this route musically?

RR: Oh man, yeah there’s been a lot of influences. Anything in the ambient genre. I’m a huge fan of My Bloody Valentine and Kevin Shields, you know, those sort of waves of sound with the guitar. Brian Eno, obviously a huge influence.I was just playing with what sounded good. It was nice to just kind of feel it out. Like, ‘Oh this feels nice.’

Photo Credit: Shane Lopes

mxdwn: Did your recording process change? Did you have to meditate or do anything to kind of get into that mindset?

Randy: Nothing like that. I have a recording studio setup in Downtown L.A. We have recorded there for years. There’s no real big head-change. I think for me, the practice of creating ambient guitar sounds is something that I kind of do to warm up or just get a little experimental sometimes. You know with how sound moves; to create the sort of effect chain where I can slowly drop guitar sound into them and sort of see how the delay and reverb and modulation sort of stretches sounds out over time. It’s not so much like a meditation experience as it is like a more musical-like production, practice and experimentation.

mxdwn: What’s next for you? I know you mentioned you’re working on a new No Age album.

RR: As far as No Age, we’re working on writing a new record and recording it right now. Hopefully we’ll have it recorded by summer and hopefully it will come out by fall or the beginning of next year. We just finished up a tour of New Zealand and in Australia, so yeah, we’ve just been writing songs and hopefully we’ll have a new record out soon.