The Linda Lindas: Passion, Power And The Public Library

(Photo by LA Family Housing Home Together 2021/via Getty Images)
– The Linda Lindas
The Linda Lindas perform during LA Family Housing’s Home Together virtual event, presented by RBC|City National Bank and The Smidt Foundation, on April 29, 2021.

Just before her Los Angeles-area school locked down last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a 9-year-old girl named Mila was confronted by a boy in her class whose father had told him to avoid people like her.

“[He] said that his dad told him to stay away from Chinese people. After I told him that I was Chinese, he backed away from me,” Mila, now 10 and the youngest member of The Linda Lindas, says in the introduction to the premiere of “Racist, Sexist Boy” at the Los Angeles Public Library’s Cypress Park Branch May 4, part of its AAPI Heritage Month celebrations.
If success is the best revenge, Mila and The Linda Lindas – drummer Mila and guitarist/vocalists Eloise (13), Lucia (14) and Bela (16) – got both. The 40-minute performance, which included covers of Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl” and The Muffs’ “Big Mouth,” and capped by “Racist, Sexist Boy” set the L.A. Public Library’s Instagram account on fire when it was uploaded a few days later.
Video of the library performance – an exuberant, loud, passionate and powerful shock wave of pissed-off, schoolgirl punk rock – went viral and within two weeks had been seen by more than 4 million Instagram users, and earning  praise from no less than Chuck D, Hayley Williams, Flea, Tom Morello, Questlove, Thurston Young and Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill, among others.
Hanna’s praise, in particular, was fitting – Mila was wearing a Bikini Kill T-shirt behind her drum kit during the performance –  and The Linda Lindas opened a show for Bikini Kill’s reunion tour stop at the Hollywood Palladium April 25, 2019, at Hanna’s invitation. 
But it was the library performance and “Racist, Sexist Boy” that touched nerves across the globe. Within a month, they’d signed a recording deal with rock label Epitaph, booked a June 3 appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and were the toast of L.A. But the “overnight success” was long in the making, and the obvious talent is in their DNA.
The Linda Lindas, ranging in age from 10 to 16 years, are sisters, cousins and friends of Asian American and Latinx heritage. Mila and sister Lucia’s dad is Paramore’s Grammy-winning producer, Carlos de la Garza. Eloise’s dad is Martin Wong, co-founder of culture mag Giant Robot.
They are not strictly amateurs. Named in homage to the 2005 Japanese movie “Linda Linda Linda,” about four teenagers who form a band to cover punk rock songs, the foursome met at the Girlschool festival. There, they backed up singer-producer Kristin Kontrol and caught the attention of Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O and Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino. They would soon open shows for L.A. punk queen Alice Bag and play at the Viva Pomona festival. 
Movie and television music supervisors were quick to catch on, too. The Linda Lindas, playing the house band, performed “Rebel Girl” in the Amy Poehler-directed comedy “Moxie” and wrote songs for Netflix’s mini-documentary “The Claudia Kishi Club.” An EP followed, containing original songs “Missing You,” “No Clue” and “Never Say Never.” 
The songs are evocative of punk heroines like the Runaways, Missing Persons’ Dale Bozzio and Bikini Kill, but  “Racist, Sexist Boy” packs a punch made for these times. Standing up to the classroom bullying that was the catalyst for the anthem became a mission with the 2020 election cycle, Mila told the Los Angeles Times. 
“We had the idea to write a song about that for a while,” she said. “But when the presidential election came, we were like, ‘Oh, this is the time for it.’” 
“Of all the songs that we’ve written, it’s the most hard-hitting,” Lucia added. “It’s very tough compared to what we usually write, and it had to be that way. If it wasn’t that way, it probably wouldn’t have had much of an impact.”
With lyrics like ”You are a racist, sexist boy / and you have racist, sexist joys / we rebuild what you destroy” and a shouted bridge of “Poser! Blockhead! Riffraff! Jerkface!,” these four young women tell their truth and obviously have fun doing it.
Until the newfound fame, the girls’ parents handled Facebook messages, email and merch sales including a T-shirt line benefitting Tees4Togo, of which 100% of the profit goes to educating girls in Togo for a year. With the onslaught of attention, they were able to hand off those duties to Epitaph.
A spokeswoman for Epitaph tells Pollstar that de la Garza and the girls’ families are in the process of securing management and aren’t quite ready to reveal any definitive future plans, but with the Kimmel appearance and their baby band resume already boasting some career highlights, it’s a safe bet The Linda Lindas won’t be another viral flash in the pan.
To purloin a phrase, it could be we’re seeing the future of rock ‘n’ roll, and its name is The Linda Lindas. But for the moment, it’s enough to know you can’t get away with bullying girls in school, but you most definitely can make noise in a library.