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The Linda Lindas just wanna have fun

The Linda Lindas have a date at the Newport Folk Festival.Zen Sekizawa

When the Linda Lindas named their new debut album “Growing Up,” they meant it in the literal sense. At 17, guitarist Bela Salazar is the oldest member of the group; drummer Mila de la Garza is just 11. Mila’s sister, guitarist Lucia de la Garza, is 14, and their cousin, bassist Eloise Wong, is 13.

As a group, though, they’ve already come of age. Their ferocious pop-punk song “Racist, Sexist Boy” went viral when they performed it at the Los Angeles Public Library a year ago, and the young women have earned props from Best Coast, the Go-Go’s, and Amy Poehler, who cast them in her recent movie “Moxie.” The Linda Lindas perform at the Newport Folk Festival on Sunday.


Q. Are you on a tour bus?

Eloise: We’re going from Normal, Ill., to Bloomington.

Lucia: We’re playing the Castle Theatre with Japanese Breakfast tonight.

Q. How many people in the audience know something about the band when you get onstage?

Eloise: There were quite a lot of people singing along and stuff, so that’s awesome.

Q. What’s it like to have people singing along with your songs after putting out just one album? That’s pretty powerful.

Eloise: Yeah, it’s like I don’t even know all the lyrics to my own songs. [Laughter]

Lucia: When you put out music, it’s really scary. You don’t know how people are going to react. But doing shows is one of the best ways to really connect with people. People who love music. Because we love music too.

Q. If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?

Bela: When people ask us what we want to do in the future, it’s hard to tell, because I just graduated from high school, and Mila still has six more years to go.


Q. But when you’re a kid, you might go, oh, I love dinosaurs, or I want to be president . . .

Eloise: A paleontologist!

Lucia: Mila wanted to be Olaf when she grows up. Olaf from “Frozen.” [Laughter]

Bela: I want to study fashion design. I am, like, making clothes for us when I can. Right now, I’m working on outfits — we’re going to Japan next month.

Eloise: I like to draw. I draw a lot of the band’s merch.

Q. Tell me about playing Newport. I don’t think anyone would call what you do “folk” music.

Lucia: Um, I would probably agree we’re not folk music. [But] the idea of playing in front of folks sounded cool. [Laughter]

Q. What’s it like to have Gina [Schock] from the Go-Go’s, for instance, come onstage with you, or tell you she loves what you do?

Eloise: It’s so cool that these people you’ve looked up to know who you are. And we’ve been on the same bills as some of them. It’s kind of like our heroes can be our peers, sort of? It’s just really exciting.

Lucia: I feel like most of the bands people say we sound like, we kind of know who they are, or we’ve even seen them play. People have said we sound like the Go-Go’s, or the Runaways.

Eloise: People have said we’re carrying the torch of the Riot Grrrl movement.

Lucia: I think it’s interesting to see how movements come in waves, even though they never really go away. It’s like, “Oh, it’s awesome to see younger girls of color doing music.” And I feel like there were always people like us doing it. It’s just that somehow we came up at a certain time where people were excited to see that. And we’re hoping it can continue to be that way. We’re gonna do what we want to do, and we’re going to have fun doing it.


Q. You’re thinking about the same things a lot of your peers around the country and the world are thinking about, whether it’s social justice or bullying. I’d imagine you don’t set out to write songs that are quote-unquote speaking for your generation, but it kind of happens naturally, yeah?

Eloise: Well, I think the songs are reflections of our lives and the world around us. Our experiences, we just put into our songs.

Q. Do you think you have distinct personalities? Like, is one of you the goofy one, or the cerebral one?

Bela: Lucia is kind of the cerebral one, right? She’s like the ringleader. And Eloise can either be really loud, or she can be really quiet. It just depends.

Eloise: Mila loves snacking, and to [change] her outfits, like, three times a day.

Bela: And she gets up a million times between every song, to get water, or a snack.

Mila: I don’t do that as much anymore!

Eloise: Bela and Mila are like the snackers and the slackers, and then Lucia gets us all riled up. And when we started the band Mila would be falling asleep at the end of practice, because we could only practice after school, after dinner. So she’d be, like, falling asleep playing the drums.


Q. The first thing that got a lot of people’s attention was the video for “Racist, Sexist Boy.” Tell me what it was like to make so much noise in a library.

Eloise: So, Mila had a racist encounter with her classmate. Like, a lot of oppression is just ingrained in kids, from such a young age. It kind of gets tiring. It happens so often that it just sort of passes and people don’t blink an eye. So Mila and I wrote a song about it. And Mila’s in the LAPL a lot . . .

Mila: I go there every day after school.

Eloise: And it was just cool that four people could make such a difference. That our song could actually matter. It started out as a really angry song, but with all the positivity we got, it just became, like, hopeful. Yeah, it was cool.

Interview was edited and condensed. E-mail James Sullivan at Follow him on Twitter @sullivanjames.