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Photography Daria Kobayashi Ritch

pinky pinky are the rising queens of l.a. garage rock

Alexandra Weiss

The California three-piece premieres "Hot Tears," the dreamy lead single from their upcoming sophomore EP.

Photography Daria Kobayashi Ritch

For drummer and vocalist Anastasia Sanchez, bassist Eva Chambers, and guitarist Isabelle Fields, rock ‘n’ roll doesn’t have a clear definition. But the hard-pounding sound and DIY attitude of L.A.-based Pinky Pinky brings the trio pretty close to summing it up. Started by 20-year-old Sanchez and 18-year-olds Chambers and Fields while they were still in high school, the group began mastering their garage rock-meets-girl group trademark sound before they even finished 12th grade. Since then, the girls have released a self-titled debut EP and are gearing up to release their sophomore effort, Hot Tears, on February 14. The title track, premiering below, is a dreamy scuzz anthem about “the feeling of being withdrawn, even in the presence of someone close,” says Sanchez.

A cutting mix of heavy riffs and reverb-soaked vocals, the track shows how much Pinky Pinky has grown up. Though we loved the messy innocence of songs like “Spiders” and “Ram Jam,” “Hot Tears” is a refreshing take on the 60s and 70s girls-in-the-garage records by bands like The Chymes and Thee Headcoatees. But the new EP won’t be any sort of throwback, because Pinky Pinky’s not just a girl band — and they don’t play by anyone else’s rules.

“It's much cooler when girls can play music and don't have to label it ‘girl rock,’” says Sanchez. “We’re just people making music. At the end of the day, if you can do your thing and make the kind of music you want without having to feel like ‘I’m a girl who’s doing this,’ that’s so much more empowering.”

Listen to “Hot Tears” below, while the band talks authenticity and being musicians in Los Angeles.

Tell us about your upcoming EP, Hot Tears.
Isabelle Fields: It's very different from our last EP because our sound has matured a lot. We’re still the same band, but I feel like we're definitely taking up a different vibe.

Anastasia Sanchez: Definitely. Every song on the new EP is pretty different from the other — there’s a song for everyone.

How would you describe the new sound?
Eva Chambers: It’s just good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll.

How does that compare to last year’s debut?
AS: Our last EP was a little more raw and 60s garage sounding. We were all 16 or 17 when we wrote it, and we were really just trying to figure out who were as a band. Because of that, I felt like we ended up trying too hard to make it one thing, so at one point, it all kind of sounded similar. For this record, we just had a lot more fun with it and it all ended up working very well together.

IF: We’re a rock ‘n’ roll band, but there are so many different directions you can take within that genre, that we never want to feel like we’re pinned down to one thing. We always want to be able to try new things and with this EP, you can really hear that. It’s still pretty raw, because it’s still just the three of us playing our instruments. But it’s a lot cleaner this time, and more grown up.

How did each of you get into music? Did you know you always wanted to be in a band?
AS: When I was younger, my dad kind of forced me to play the guitar and drums. He would literally duct tape drumsticks to my hands and teach me how to play a beat. But I thought it was kind of boring. Further down the line, I got into classical music, but it ended up driving me crazy. So, I went back and pretty much taught myself the drums. Anywhere there was a set, I’d bang on it.

EC: When I moved to L.A., my sisters and I started a band and I played the keyboard. From there, I decided to teach myself every other instrument.

IF: I played violin at school, in my school orchestra. Then I started playing guitar when I was 12. I made this stupid Instagram post in 8th grade like, “I want to start a band!” and Eva responded. We started playing music together after that.

Photography Daria Kobayashi Ritch

Where did the name Pinky Pinky come from?
IF: We like to say Pinky Pinky means too much rock for one hand because you put both your pinkies up and hands together.

EC: But the name comes from this South African legend about this monster that hurts little girls when they’re on the toilet — and this is the PG version.

AS: We actually looked into the legend after we’d already adopted the band name and felt like, “Yikes!”

EC: But we didn't realize it was a real, feared thing in South Africa. We kind of just thought it was a myth school girls made up to scare each other.

What’s your songwriting process like? Is it hard always working with two other people?
EC: We don’t rush anything — one song we wrote over a year. We’ll write something, hate it, and throw it away, but then we’ll go back and dig it up later.

AS: But other times, we'll write one in two days. We really don’t have a distinct process — everything we do is at our own pace. But it can be really hard because we’re all total perfectionists.

In almost all of the interviews I’ve read, journalists have called you feminist. Would you consider yourselves a “feminist rock ‘n’ roll band”? Or do you think, because you’re women, you’re just being pigeon-holed?
IF: I think it’s just really easy to label any girl band feminist rock. Of course, we’re girls and we support women. But Pinky Pinky is not about that. We’re just three people that really like making music.

AS: And it feels like it’s way less feminist to be immediately labeling a band feminist just because they’re women.

EC: Exactly. And the fact that because we are all girls, people feel like they have to thrown in some sort of feminist label — that says a lot.

Another word I’ve heard a lot of people use to describe your music is “authentic.” Why do you think that is?
AS: Because we're not playing shoegaze and trying to be like every other L.A. band that's out right now. We're trying to branch out in our own way and not copy anyone. I think a lot of people think the key to success is, “Oh, this band is doing really well, let's do what they're doing, just a little differently.” But for us it’s more like, “This sounds weird, lets try it.”

IF: If we like the way something sounds, we'll use it. A lot of bands are focused on trying to sound a certain way, or like a certain decade. We just want to write music that we like. We don’t care if people think it sounds good.

EC: Also, because we're so young and have gone through so many different phases, we pull inspiration from everywhere. That’s why our sound is — I don’t want to say all over the place — but it’s authentic to who we are. We work very hard on our music and put our souls into it. I think people can feel that.

But is it hard to be original living in L.A., where there are so many bands and everyone is releasing so much music?
EC: We don’t compare ourselves to any other L.A. band. I know a lot of the people in the scene are really good friends, and they all play shows together, but we’re not really included in that stuff, and kind of by choice. We're just so into doing our own thing that it doesn't even cross our minds, really.

IF: Right, and we don’t think about it all so much. This is just the music we like to make, it’s not about fitting into the scene or whatever. It’s just who we are. The three of us have been in a lot of different versions of this band, and we've grown with each other. We've gotten to a point where we’re comfortable enough with what we’re doing that we don’t need to try to fit in anywhere.