Staz Lindes (the cool girl model with a resume spanning Saint Laurent to PacSun and child of Dire Straits' guitarist Hal Lindes) and her best friend Laila Hashemi fell in love with grunge and punk on Myspace. They founded The Paranoyds in 2015 after realizing they didn't just have to be listeners in the LA DIY scene, soon adding Lexi Funston and David Ruiz to the mix. The result is three EPs of scowling, winking garage rock. Full of lethal riffs, but toying with clap-along twee, The Paranoyds' surfy, Riot Grrrl grunge splits the difference between Bratmobile and The Go-Gos, with a little Blondie thrown in.
Now a staple in the scene they once idolized, The Paranoyds are gearing up to release their debut album Carnage Bargain later this year. PAPER debuts its first single, the scathing, tongue-in-cheek "Girlfriend Degree," which updates the sexist adage of "The Mrs. Degree" in order to tear it limb from limb. Funston switches between irony ("Went to school got a girlfriend degree/ my man takes care of me/ On the Wall is my girlfriend degree") and sincere rage ("I'm not just a shadow of myself/ looking good for somebody else), singing lyrics that could be straight out of a '90s feminist zine. She does so over a lazily catchy earworm melody, and whining fuzzy guitars. The Paranoyds pair their independence anthem with a barbie-filled video of a gloriously kitschy '50s sleepover gone wrong, where the girls dream of playing a rock show.
The song's simple feminist sentiment might sound naive or unsophisticated in our fourth (fifth?) wave feminist moment, but its punch drops you back into the first time you felt anger about the expectations placed on your gender. It's a mission statement and a battlecry for a band equally interested in laughing as the world burns, and fixing it.
PAPER chatted with The Paranoyds about "Girlfriend Degree," the video's cinematic inspirations, and their ethic as a band.
What experiences inspired "Girlfriend Degree"?
We think everyone can be susceptible of falling under the shadow of their partner, especially young women. "Girlfriend Degree" is a call to arms, a reminder to be a supremely self-loving woman, who's taking the time to do things for herself — because she wants to. It's so easy to spend all your time to do things for other people and then forget to just "do you" and to pursue your own passions —i t's a song about taking care of #1!
I love how the song reflects that the pressure on women to attach themselves to a man has just morphed rather than going away, i.e. the play on "Mrs. Degree." What do you think "the girlfriend degree" (or the pressures to get one) look like today?
There's always going to be pressure about being the ideal woman. It's ok to want to be the ideal woman, so long as that ideality is self-realized — not what someone else in your life thinks you should be. Getting a "girlfriend degree" is about settling, selling oneself short — valuing your partner's beliefs or opinions over your own. It's cool to be a girlfriend or wife or whatever, but there's so much more to being a woman than that.
How did the video concept come together? Feels like it's pulling from a dozen different movies.
Some inspirations we pulled for this music video were: Foo Fighters' "Everlong" video, Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, John Waters' Female Trouble, The Adventures of Pete & Pete's "A Hard Days Pete" episode, as well as Justine Kurland's photo series "Girl Pictures."
Who/what bands inspired The Paranoyds' sort of morbid, snarky sense of humor on display in the song?
We've always had a bit of a snarky sense of humor and I think that shows in our writing, especially on this one. This song is cheeky reminder to ourselves even, to not be complacent, to not settle for anything we don't want.
How do you want the song and video to make people feel?
Hopefully the song and video are inspiring! We all have power and we should use that power in every aspect of our lives. Don't let your nightmares become your reality!
Carnage Bargain will be out September 13th on Suicide Squeeze.
Photo courtesy of Grandstand Media