There are a lot of things kids aren’t old enough to do, but one thing they absolutely can do is fight the power with guitars and righteous lyrics. That’s the tactic deployed by fierce four-person Los Angeles punk band The Linda Lindas, who have turned a raging performance at the L.A. Public Library into a cause célèbre that has landed them more than 340,000 views and, reportedly, a deal with legendary punk label Epitaph Records.
The group consists of guitarist-singer Lucia, 14, an eighth grader (“Linda No. 3”); bassist-singer Eloise, 13, a seventh grader (“Linda Linda No. 2); fifth grade drummer-singer Mila, 10 (“Linda Linda No. 4); and guitarist-singer Bela, 16, a junior (“Linda Linda No. 1”). In the video for their song “Racist Sexist Boy” that blew up on YouTube recently, Mila and Eloise talk about how the song was inspired by an experience with racism at their school.
“A little while before we went into lockdown, a boy in my class came up to me and said that his dad told him to stay away from Chinese people,” Mila said in the video. “After I told him that I was Chinese, he backed away from me. Eloise and I wrote this song based on that experience.”
With their ebullient mix of Sleater-Kinney/Bikini Kill power and an obvious homage to punk gods the Ramones in their stage names, the mighty quartet have already made significant waves at a young age, opening for Best Coast and Bikini Kill since forming in 2018. Their Bandcamp page describes them as “half Asian / half Latinx. Two sisters, a cousin, and their close friend. The Linda Lindas channel the spirit of original punk, power pop, and new wave through today’s ears, eyes, and minds.”
The two singles and EP for sale on the band’s page were produced and mixed by by Grammy-winning producer Carlos de la Garza (Paramore, Bad Religion), who also happens to be Mila’s dad. Together for three years, in an interview during the library set, they cited Paramore, Blondie, That Dog, Sleater-Kinney, Jawbreaker, the Buzzcocks, Alice Bag, Phranc, Le Tigre, Best Coast, Snail Mail, Bleached and the Go-Gos, as well as tacos, as their biggest inspirations.
After the video of the performance — as part of the library’s AAPI Heritage Month celebration — blew up, the group earned co-signs from a number of prominent rockers, including Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna, as well as the Silversun Pickups, Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello and former Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore.
You can watch the full set here, which includes their original songs “Claudia Kishi” (for the 2020 Netflix short doc about the Japanese-American character from The Baby-Sitters Club), a track about missing their friends during the pandemic (“Missing”), as well as the poppy rave-up “Never Say Never,” a song about the guitarist Bela’s cat (“Monica”), the bouncy original “No Clue” and covers of Bikini Kill’s iconic Riot Grrrl anthem “Rebel Girl” and The Muffs’ “Big Mouth.”
By Gil Kaufman