The L.A. punk quartet makes songs for everyone in the simulation to enjoy.
Punk bands have a long history of being broke—now they’re just broke because of the streaming economy. The Paranoyds aren’t too bummed about it; like other millennial artists (and their even their younger counterparts), they see their art as a way of capturing the absurdity of it all. With their debut, Carnage Bargain, the Los Angeles rock band captures the never-ending memes, drama, and stress of being a young person in 2019—from looking for extra change for Coinstar on “Egg Salad,” to wishing to hibernate on “Bear.” They may not be a voice of reason, but their music offers something resembling relief.
AdHoc spoke to the band’s two vocalists—Staz Lindes, who also plays bass, and Lexi Funston, who also plays guitar—about taking inspiration from 70s and 80s punk, being a band during the digital age, and not getting to own a private jet.
AdHoc: You started off writing silly songs and putting them on Myspace. What made you decide to go further than that?
Staz Lindes: Time. When I was putting stuff on Myspace, I was 14 to 17. I was alone and acoustic, and I had horrific stage fright. We didn’t properly form the band until much later. I guess over the years—just building confidence, finding your bandmates, starting playing shows. I just didn’t have that right away.
How did you overcome that stage fright?
Staz: I went to Japan in 2014, and having to perform karaoke nonstop at every bar you go to made me realize I really love performing and singing.
Lexi Funston: I would say for the first few shows [I had stage fright], but I was kind of feeding off of everybody else’s nervousness [laughs]. I was like, “Wow, I didn’t know I was nervous until now, but I guess I am!”
Staz: We call it the PSS mode: the pre-show shit. In the beginning, it was so gnarly—needing to shit your pants with nerves. We’ve learned how to control our bowels since.
You’re gonna do a co-headlining tour with Surfbort, another awesome punk band. Are you a fan of Surfbort and any other current punk bands? What do you think of the current state of punk?
Staz: Love Surfbort. They put on such a good live show and I love their songs. We’re kind of similar—we both have a childlike innocence in some of our lyrics. It can be very playful, or it can be serious and political. We love this band Institute from Austin—they don’t have social media, but they’re on Spotify and stuff. There’s some punk bands in L.A.…
Staz: Yeah, Vaguess. Slaughterhouse. The state of punk right now… Honestly, that band Institute was a relief to see, because not only do they not have social media, but it was their second time in L.A. and they sold out their show.
Lexi: Yeah, they’re the real deal.
Staz: Obviously, some punk stuff seems a bit silly and immature now, but there’s definitely stuff to be pissed about. I don’t listen to IDLES, but my friend was reading me their lyrics and they were really good. They seem to have a very strong political message.
Your music—and a lot of current punk music—seems to echo old post-punk acts like Gang of Four or Wire. What about that era inspires you?
Staz: Those bands just came up on my Spotify algorithm, so I just decided… [laughs] I mean, I honestly think the punk sound from the late 70s and 80s is—
Lexi: So much more interesting.
Staz: It’s breaking out from this formulaic pop from the 60s and then disco in the 70s. It’s this dirty underground self-expression that started coming out, and it’s constantly referenced because it was just so groundbreaking. I read the 33 ⅓ book about Wire’s Pink Flag, and their whole thing was: Once the singing stops, we stop. We don’t want guitar solos, we don’t want this rock thing. They’re all—like Devo—art school kids. I think also with analog recording—we’re referencing oldies a lot too. Basically, analog recording is such an organic, living mechanism that the recordings never really go stale. It always sounds fresh and like an explosion. We want to sound like that, but it’s hard to. But we definitely reference how electric and exciting all that kind of stuff is.
The press release said that you’re called the Paranoyds because of the lack of privacy in the age of digital surveillance. How has being a band during this digital age either helped you or harmed you?
Lexi: It’s hard to imagine what else it would be, just because it is the only way to do it presently. Whether or not you even take part in social media, the venue that you’re playing at has it, your promoter for the show has it. Even if you’re trying to stay off the grid, it’s really hard to do that. I don’t know how it treats us specifically, but I think it’s awesome that maybe because of it we can reach a further fanbase. We like Spotify, even though that’s why we’re never gonna have a rock & roll private jet [laughs]. But also looking at our top-of-the-year stuff, we just found out that our music was streamed in 77 countries, which is crazy.
Staz: If that’s true, that’s insane.
Lexi: I don’t know if without [Spotify] we necessarily would’ve been able to have that big of a reach. It’s complicated, I guess. You can’t really have idols anymore because everyone is so accessible and there’s no mystery and you can know what keto meal they cooked for dinner last night. At the same time, it gives people a voice, and it gives us a chance to show our super silly side. You can hear a band from L.A. and build a pretentious storyline for us. [Then] you see our Instagram and see us airskating to Tony Hawk [laughs]. It’s pretty amazing that you can build your own brand so easily and you don’t need managers. We haven’t had a manager before, and we still don’t.
The song “Laundry” is about doing laundry, and the Carnage Bargain album art is a bunch of toothbrushes. Do you usually gather inspiration from mundane objects and tasks?
Lexi: Totally. It isn’t all about being upset about all of the obvious things. It could just be a really hot day, and you have to go to the laundromat, and you don’t want to do it. That’s something that’s real, too. Obviously, not as important as everything else that’s going on.
Staz: But also, us as a human civilization, is just so bizarre. Laundry is such a weird concept. And brushing our teeth.
Lexi: It’s something that everybody does.
Staz: Yeah, hopefully. It’s just one of those things where when you actually step outside and question our rituals, everything’s a bit funny.
The song “Girlfriend Degree” is a very direct jab at misogyny, especially in the music scene. How do you usually handle those situations—someone assuming you’re a groupie or girlfriend rather than an actual band member?
Staz: I am a girlfriend and a groupie sometimes [laughs]. No one’s ever been like, “Hey, what are you doing here!?” Luckily, I think we’re in a space in L.A. where everyone’s pretty open to a lot of things. Everybody’s seen everything, and no one’s really been that big of an asshole. I know I’ve read things about other girl bands that constantly get interviewed about it, and they’re only having to talk about that. For us, I don’t think anyone’s ever doubted us. Everybody’s been pretty supportive.
The song basically came from the idea of: Hey, if you like music, you don’t just have to listen to guy bands. You, too, can start a band and do it. Hopefully, somebody out there is listening in one of those 77 countries, and one person gets excited about that idea.
Lexi: My friend ended up kind of relating to the song. She was dating a musician in a successful band, and she was like, “I don’t want to be so-and-so’s girlfriend.” Like, “Oh, you know Lisa, she’s so-and-so’s girlfriend”—that becomes your identity. You’re just associated with this male musician. It’s like, why don’t you create your own identity and not just be someone’s girlfriend? Be known for you.
Do you have any crazy experiences or stories from gigs, whether you were playing or in the crowd?
Staz: Like… scandal? One time, our keyboard player’s keyboard stand just collapsed. That was so funny. It was the beginning of the set. So, she was just crouched down, playing her keyboard on the ground. We had to tape it up after that song. When we were in Boise, I started talking about Built To Spill because that’s where they’re from. Then, when we finished, everyone was like, “You know that [Built To Spill frontman] Doug [Martsch] is here, right?” I couldn’t find him, though. He probably didn’t even watch our set. People were like, “No, he was watching!”
Then, another amazing time was when we saw Nardwuar at South by Southwest. We were like, “Oh, we saw Nardwuar outside and we told him to come, but he’s probably not here.” And then he was like, “Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo!” from the crowd. We were like, “Holy shit!” That was cool, and then he left [laughs].
You never know with tour. The best is when little kids are there, and they come up to you and they’re like, “This is the first record I ever bought!” and you’re like, “Yay!” Going to shows—we saw blink-182’s show with Lil Wayne.
Lexi: That was a really fun show.
Staz: So trashy. We grew up going to shows, so there was always crazy shit.