Editors’ Notes “The inspiration for most of these songs was not to pound you in the face, but just sort of give you a tiny spoon to carve out your eyeballs with,” No Age drummer-vocalist Dean Spunt tells Apple Music of his LA art-punk duo’s fifth LP. “But then, that’s not totally accurate.” After completing 2018’s Snares Like a Haircut, Spunt and guitarist Randy Randall both thought their next move would be a continuation of that album’s dreamlike conclusion. Written in their own self-built studio rehearsal space, Goons Be Gone is instead a natural display of what No Age has come to do better than most, after nearly 15 years together—balancing the direct and ambient, riffs and squalls, head and heart, fists and spoons. “I've found that we always write the best, most interesting songs when we're working quickly, without thinking too much,” Spunt says. “I'm a much better feeler than a storyteller.” Here, Spunt and Randall walk us through every song on the album.

Sandalwood
Randy Randall: “It felt like the wrong way to open things, with this off-kilter drum thing. I think that was something that appealed to me about it: this weird crash, and then you're into the record.”
Dean Spunt: “I was driving back from Palm Springs with my family, and down in the desert on the way to the freeway, we saw a guy in a ditch on the ground with his hand up. We probably pulled up 50 yards in front of him and I looked in my rearview mirror and he was running towards us. It was me and my wife and my son, and I had a moment where I'm like, ‘Am I meant to stay here and help this mysterious person running towards our car in the middle of the desert or am I supposed to take off and be safe?’ I didn't know what to do. I ended up taking off and calling the police and saying that I saw someone in the desert but also I didn't want to stop because I wasn't sure about him charging at my car. I kept thinking about that as an interesting way of escaping. It’s like I'm not sure how to think sometimes, but, sometimes, you've just got to take off and go. Or in the case of the record, have fun and just go.”

Feeler
DS: “In LA, there’s this new neo-hippie—those words describe me, by the way—health food, but a version that's posh. I grew up with the ’70s and ’80s version, with my parents being granola-y like that, and then I worked in a vegetarian restaurant with old-school hippies and stuff. Seeing the new form of it where you're buying $15 smoothies and wearing $50 Grateful Dead bootleg shirts, I just couldn't get that out of my head, so that's why there’s that line ‘astral plane, cross-legged, floating’ in the song.”
RR: “That guitar solo was fun to do. I think it goes back to my favorite guitar solos, like the one from ‘Maggie May’ or those sort of harmonic, bluesy Thin Lizzy solos. Something that slides in the pocket a little bit, more soulful. The type of solos I appreciate are lazy in that way, rather than showy.”

Smoothie
DS: “A lot of times the songs will come from a sample one of us will have and we'll jam on it. Everything felt real smooth, and when I was doing the lyrics, I was staring at the wall where I play drums and I was thinking about this tambourine that I used to play with a lot during [2008's] Nouns era, that I used to carry it around with me all the time. I let it go, I don't use it anymore.”
RR: “It definitely felt different for us—that’s not a song we've written before. It was fun to play in that sample world. [2010's] Everything In Between was a big sample record for us—we used a lot of samples on that record, but I don't think we had played around with them as much as an arranging compositional tool until a song like this.”

Working Stiff Takes a Break
DS: “This was a sample that I made, a saxophone sort of loop. When I was doing vocals, I didn't know what to do, but this is the first thing that came to me. If I ever go by myself to the [rehearsal] space, this is the kind of stuff I do. Or if Randy and I are writing together in a very stripped-down way. It’s very open and direct and it feels like a very strong statement, but lyrically it’s open to interpretation. I felt really strongly about this song, because the lyrics are referencing myself coming, being—you know, feeling very strongly about these songs and this record and, you know, feeling okay with that. I don't give a shit. This is good energy.”

War Dance
DS: “This is a punk song for you. Very cliché, but just some yawn at the red states. Politically charged in a way, being angry at Trumpism and those people like that. I have to yell at Trump sometimes.”
RR: “That kind of riff and beat go together, you know. We played in Christchurch a few weeks before the mass shooting that they experienced down there. We played that in a small coffee-shop kind of record store, and I just remember, for some reason, this song sounding really good there. We had been playing it that whole tour, but for whatever reason, whenever I think about that song, I always think about the venue and the people we met there. Performing that song that night, I remember it really connecting with me in a way that I was like, ‘Oh yeah, this totally makes sense. This is how it should sound on the record.’ I think that was my guiding light.”

Toes in the Water
RR: “This one is the oldest song we have. To me, it felt like something as a reaction to Snares Like a Haircut, because the album sometimes is pretty heavy. That album was so live and rock-oriented that when we wrote those songs, toured and recorded them, this was just the other side of the coin. It's a nice moment in the set—playing it on that tour felt like a break or even an antagonistic stance sometimes. Like, ‘Okay, we're going to play this loud instrumental thing for however long we want to, to regroup before we play more.’”

Turned to String
DS: “It actually took a while to get this one sounding right. We thought we had the riff for a while, but we played it fast live—it took a while to mix and figure out. It feels to me like the most No Age song, right? Like ‘Fever Dreaming’ or that kind of song.”
RR: “It's the most driving song. I feel like maybe it's a leftover vibe of what we were running on previously. I think we have a secret tradition of that, where the last song that didn't get finished for the record before usually ends up being the lead single off the record after it.”

A Sigh Clicks
DS: “We played this one on tour in Australia and New Zealand and it was sort of like Go-Betweens or Social Distortion—it just felt more like a straight song, and it was fine for tour but then when we recorded it just didn't feel right. I had a real problem with the way it sounded and I couldn't figure out how to make it sound like it should be on the record, but then at the end of the session, Randy and I went back and made this track and I sang a truncated version for this. So it became a ‘A Sigh Clicks.’ It was originally called ‘Riverside,’ I think. There’s probably an Australian bootleg of it somewhere.”
RR: “I took a different song and then chopped up his lyrics from ‘Riverside’ over it. Then we rerecorded the lyrics to fit that reimagined state of it, which was something fun that we did after [2013’s] An Object. We reinvented that record in several incarnations—one for a live setting and then another for this tape release we did. So it’s been part of our process, I think, to always have that in the back pocket. Instead of having guitars do that part, let’s have a sample do it. We look at some songs as modular ideas or arrangements that can be simplified or distilled. It was fun to see it in a new light.”

Puzzled
DS: Our mixing engineer, Scott [Cornish], kept saying that he felt it was like The Who. I kept thinking it was a much tighter song than that. I kept referencing Buzzcocks or something, but I don't think that was the winning thought. It has a pretty simple riff and drumbeat, and then lyrically it was just words that were feelings that just came out. To me, it felt like it was happening in that way, just spouting off things, just different colorful feelings that maybe are harking to a childlike essence. I like that I used the word 'aeroplane' instead of 'airplane.' I couldn't shake it.”

Head Sport Full Face
DS: “It hasn't really revealed itself to me what it all means. We wrote it and I feel like Randy and Scott were really into it, and I felt like at first I couldn't get my head around it. I kept feeling like it felt like The Clash, ‘Lost in the Supermarket.’ That was my go-to vibe.”
RR: “There’s also this nice softness to it, and I doubled that on guitar. Those nice peanut-butter-and-jelly moments where you have this fast, upbeat thing going on and this soft, languid, fuzzy feeling going on at the same time. There's some great feedback moments, some squalls. Feedback moments always get me giddy and excited. It just hits me right in all the sweet spots.”

Agitating Moss
DS: “This is the one. I love this song. It's our communication and our chemistry on total display, without having to do anything. There was nothing to add. In two and a half minutes, it just was done.”
RR: “We were so in love with the demo. It felt so loose and fun and like we weren't being self-conscious. Dean did a mouth guitar solo and it took everything to refrain from wanting something like that on the record. It was really one of those things that just felt like it captured us in the moment. We weren't sure if we were going to be able to beat it, if a studio thing was going to suck all of the fun and life out of it, but I think we really filled it out but still kept a lot of playfulness. Now it's one of those things: If I try to think about how to play it, I mess it up. I have to purposely unplug my brain to play it.”

SONG
Sandalwood
1
2:31
 
Feeler
2
2:40
 
Smoothie
3
3:53
 
Working Stiff Takes a Break
4
1:01
 
War Dance
5
2:33
 
Toes in the Water
6
3:11
 
Turned to String
7
3:41
 
A Sigh Clicks
8
2:26
 
Puzzled
9
3:59
 
Head Sport Full Face
10
3:55
 
Agitating Moss
11
3:05
 

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