Punk-rock band Linda Lindas may be performing all over the country (and in Mexico and Canada), but when they’re not performing, they also aren’t partying or living a glamorous musical lifestyle. Instead, they do their homework.
“Behind the scenes, we’re just going to, like, do math homework, or write our articles on the plane,” band member Lucia de la Garza told NBC News.
All four Linda Lindas members are still teenagers or younger: the youngest is 12 and the oldest is 18.
“We’re not adults,” said de la Garza, 15.
Fellow band member Bella Salazar, who turns 18, replied, “Technically I am.”
Mila de la Garza, 12, stated, “You’re a legal adult, but you haven’t grown up.”
Eloise Wong, 15, made an X with her arms in support.
The idea of being in the process, and still learning about the world and themselves, permeates the band’s debut album, “Growing Up.”
The group, whose members are from Los Angeles and are Asian and Latino Americans, are taking the album on tour. On Saturday, they are scheduled to play Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, New York, with Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Japanese Breakfast. There are also scheduled stops for the West Coast — in cities like Los Angeles and Las Vegas — and one in Mexico.
The album, tour, and gigs with Karen O are a long way from their dedicated origins as an after school cover band.
“We never sat down and were like, ‘You know what?’ “We have to be a band,” Lucia de la Garza said. “It kind of happened.”
Mila and Lucia de la Garza are siblings. Wong is their cousin, and Salazar is a family friend.
In fact, the Linda Linda members didn’t think they’d be musicians when they grew up (although Mila and Lucia de la Garza’s father is Grammy Award-winning producer Carlos de la Garza). Salazar wanted to become a doctor, Wong wanted to be a paleontologist, and Milla de la Garza (the youngest and funniest of the group) wanted to be “Olaf from Frozen. Nothing but the good times.”
Lucia de la Garza added, “Being passionate about an art form is not the safest career choice.”
Linda Lindas’ first party with the Dum Dum Girls was in 2018, when Kristin Kontrol invited local girls to play with her at a concert called Girlschool LA. From there, the band began playing local gigs in Chinatown, and before long, the band began playing at local concerts in Chinatown. a plus. They opened for Bikini Kill, Alice Bag, Money Mark, Dils, and Alley Cats. Amy Poehler reached out to them to perform a mix of “Rebel Girl” by Bikini Kill and “Big Mouth” by The Muffs in her movie “Moxie.”
But it wasn’t until 2021 that Linda Linda became mainstream. A performance of their song “Racist, Sexist Boy” filmed at the Los Angeles Public Library went viral for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Written by Mila de la Garza and Wong, the song was inspired by an incident in which a boy in Mila’s class told her to stay away from the Chinese due to Covid-19. After I tell him it’s half Chinese, he backs it off.
It was great that a song that started as a very angry song could turn into a powerful song, like, Let’s all get angry together.
Lucia de la Garza
“Racist, Sexist Boy” contains a mixture of anger (“Riffraff! Jerkface!”) and defiance (“We’re rebuilding what you destroyed”). After the video went viral, Linda Lindas performed in “Jimmy Kimmel Live”. And they got a deal with Epitaph Records, which specializes in punk rock bands.
“We didn’t expect it to be on such a large scale,” said Lucia de la Garza. “But it was so cool that a song that started as a very angry song turned into a powerful song, like, Let’s all get angry together.”
For Wong, who wrote the song with Mila de la Garza in One Day, her widespread embrace of that song and of Linda Linda made her feel less lonely, especially during the pandemic, when band members were isolated and she went to school via Zoom.
“Even though we’re only four people, we can make a difference,” Wong said. “People really care about what we want to say. People might actually listen. And it’s great to know. That’s kind of what we care about.”
In “Growing Up,” the band wrote their own songs, played their own instruments and took turns singing. The songs are inspired by events in the band members’ lives, such as the bullying incident that inspired the opening clip, “Oh!” their personal feelings, such as feeling invisible in the song “Magic”; Or eccentric sources, like Salazar’s cat in “Nino.”
Most teens will be offended by the spread of their deep thoughts in public. But for Linda Lindas, having support for each other gave each of them the courage not only to record those songs, but also to perform them in public.
“We have to share songs with each other first,” Wong said. “Once we share the songs with each other, I think it’s easier to share with everyone else, because you really broke that movie.”
It’s okay if you make a mistake. Like, this is punk rock.
Lucia de la Garza
For Mila de la Garza, being able to see her songs resonate with other people helped alleviate some of her self-awareness.
“It was definitely scary at first,” she said. “But it’s also kind of cool because you know there’s going to be other people attached to it as well.”
Many of the songs on “Growing Up” were written by individual members, but the band worked together to create a format. The group has an open and collaborative environment where each member can bring their own personalities and creativity. “If you come up with something, you can do it,” Salazar said.
It’s that fun environment that also allowed the band members to learn how to play their instruments, and make mistakes along the way. Salazar and Lucia de la Garza play the guitar, Mila de la Garza plays the drums, and Wong plays the guitar. Aside from Salazar, who was taking guitar lessons before becoming a member of Linda Lindas, the other members had never played their instruments before joining the band. Mila was put on the drums because her hands weren’t big enough to handle the guitar. Wong played the bass because it was the only instrument left when she showed up to practice.
Linda Linda is not only growing as people, but also as musicians. But they’re also wise and self-aware: The title track in “Growing Up” is a reminder to them and their listeners that they’re still young and enjoying the moment and not taking everything too seriously.
“I go up on stage and just have fun,” said Lucia de la Garza. “And it’s okay if I get it wrong. Like, that’s punk rock.”