The Linda Lindas walked out of quarantine in a very different position from where they were when COVID-19 forced them and the rest of the world inside. Before, they had played only around 15 shows, meeting up to rock out simply because they loved it. Afterward, their faces and words were everywhere. 

Read more: Dominic Fike talks growing up, blowing up and ‘Euphoria’ in February’s Alternative Press cover story

Just prior to the shutdown, their drummer Mila de la Garza found herself on the receiving end of racist comments from a boy in her class at school. With her cousin Eloise Wong, she channeled her anger into writing “Racist, Sexist Boy,” a noisy, fun blast of anthemic energy calling out narrow-mindedness and intolerance. A video of them performing the song in L.A.’s Public Library, alongside bandmates Lucia de la Garza and Bela Salazar, spread like wildfire across the internet. 

Eighteen months on, and with their debut album on the horizon, the Linda Lindas have got a lot more to say. They’re here to prove that no matter how old you are, or what your gender and race are, you can help make a difference — and you can have a ton of fun doing it. 

Tell us what you love about punk music and why you like making it. 

LUCIA DE LA GARZA: There’s a freedom to it, to do what you want to do, to say what you want to say, talk about things that matter to you.

ELOISE WONG: Punk’s all about doing it yourself and doing it with people you love and doing what’s important to you. 

MILA DE LA GARZA: Punk isn’t just one thing. You can make it anything you want it to be. I think that’s what we wanted to do — we wanted to make punk our own.

How do you like to put your songs together? What’s your usual process for writing music?

LUCIA: We only really started writing songs during the pandemic. 

MILA: We were all kind of writing songs separately at that point.

LUCIA: We learned how to write songs separately, so now, in a way, we’re relearning how to write songs because we’re doing it together. It’s more fun doing it together, but it’s definitely a different process. I think it’s interesting with “Oh!” and “Claudia Kishi” because those were songs that we all wrote together, and those are songs that people are especially drawn towards.

You’ve done a lot of amazing stuff so far in your career. How has it felt to experience that much success in your lives, especially when you’re this young? 

LUCIA: I think it’s cool that we get to show that people of any age, any gender, of any race can do whatever they want, at any point in their life. We never planned it this way. When we started, it was just to have fun and because we wanted to make music. We were just doing covers of songs that we loved to play at the shows to benefit L.A. schools’ music programs, but it’s just made such a huge impact on our lives. [Being in the band] helped us through the pandemic. I wouldn’t have stayed sane without music during [quarantine]. It’s also cool to see how, even though we started the band just to have fun, we’ve now realized that it can also make a difference.

WONG: For the “Racist, Sexist Boy” video, we were all wearing Tees4Togo shirts, which are these shirts that Kathleen Hanna does to raise money for girls’ education in Africa. We actually helped raise a lot of money for that and are really happy that we got to do that. 

LUCIA: It’s really amazing that it got so much traction online, but it’s cool that we could actually make a tangible difference, too. We see all the messages that we get online of people reaching out to us and telling us about how they could relate to it or how they’re so happy that we’re doing what we do. It’s weird, and it’s unreal, but it’s awesome. At the beginning, it was definitely surreal. I was denying all of it. I was like, “What does it even mean to go viral? What is that?” But now, it’s like, “Maybe this can be something that can make a difference.” The song “Racist, Sexist Boy” was originally [just] for us to let our anger out about all the things we feel that we can’t do as young people, and because it did do something, I think we’ve gained more confidence in ourselves.

WONG: It’s more of a proud song now, rather than just [a song about] being angry, and how we can all get through [the challenges we face].

LUCIA: It’s a together song, one that we can all scream together.

BELA SALAZAR: It’s hard online, I guess, being able to experience all of this [success] because we’re just seeing it through a screen, and we’re not necessarily seeing all these people that really like our music. It’s really fun when we get to play live because we actually get to interact with these people that have similar interests. It’s really weird to think that people actually listen to our music, but it’s cool that there’s people out there that want to have fun with us and hang out with us.

Looking toward the future then, what do you have planned for 2022?

LUCIA: Well, the record is going to come out then! Bela sings a song in Spanish on it.

MILA: There’s a studio recording of “Racist, Sexist Boy,” and “Oh!” and “Nino” are going to be on it. 

LUCIA: It’ll probably be out in the first half of [this] year. We’ve been filming music videos and making storyboards. We love trying to express ourselves and in as many ways as we can across different mediums. We have a lot of creative control, and so we’re able to decide what we want the music videos to look like or what we want to be on the album cover or whatever. And that’s really fun for us. Also, we definitely want to travel. We definitely want to play more. We want to do as much as we can.

This interview first appeared in issue #402 (22 for ’22), available here.