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Girl in a Coma's Phanie Diaz talks about coming out and living on the road
by Trish Bendix

When Girl in a Coma signed to Joan Jett's Blackheart Records and released their gothabilly punk debut When I'm Gone, they were a refreshing change from the otherwise quite white and male dominated rock scene. The three Latina girls from San Antonio, Texas played hard and fast with intense rhythms infusing genres of all kinds that, on paper, you would never see working. But somehow, sisters Nina and Phanie Diaz and bassist Jenn Alva managed to make music their way and have it appeal to the broadest of audiences.

When I'm Gone released in 2007, and bassist Jenn was an out lesbian, which made gay girl fans all the more psyched that this great music was coming from a female trio with some girl-on-girl insight. This year, drummer Phanie publicly acknowledges that she is also a lesbian and explains why she was hesitant at the start of Girl in a Coma's career.

"My friends and band knew,but not my mother," Phanie said. "I wanted to come out to her first. I wrote her a letter and, as expected, she was wonderful about it — didn't care and nothing has changed in our relationship. Another reason I took awhile to come out is because I didn't want the public to focus on that and put us into a gay band box. We are just a band. Simple."

That sentiment is shared with many GLBT figures in the public eye, including those that have yet to come out but are well-known for being in the glass closet. But ultimately, Phanie says that it hasn't been an issue, and being out has been "a positive thing."

"First and foremost I'm being true to myself," she said. "It's also great to see that we inspire other gay females but they can also see beyond that. Just be yourself and do what makes you happy. That's what its all about."

Having toured with the likes of Tegan and Sara, I had to ask what kind of groupies Girl in a Coma might be getting. They're always on the road and extremely accessible to fans. Phanie says she thinks it's funny they "still exist."

"I'm in a happy relationship right now with my GF Stacie in San Antonio so no groupie stories here," she said. "We love being on the road. It's pretty much our life. I think, of course, we need that dose of home and down time in order to remain balanced, but overall we prefer being out here."

Phanie, Nina and Jenn still live in San Antonio and plan on staying there. They also plan on staying with Blackheart Records.

"[It's a] very low-key, relaxed label, which is perfect for us," Phanie said. "You never know what the future holds but for now we are happy and plan on working with them as long as we can."

Girl in a Coma has just released the first in a three-part series of EPs called Adventures in Coverland, which features the girls' renditions of songs by bands and artists who have influenced them, including Selena, The Beatles, Joy Division and David Bowie. They are available on 7" vinyl and digitally only, but the vinyl coverart comes together to make a boardgame. You can nab the second and third EPs on April 21 and 27.

You can see Girl in a Coma on tour now with Sia, who Phanie said they met in a funny way.

"We played the Michigan Womyns Fest last year and Sia was playing as well. We had our soundcheck at 8:30 in the am one morning and woke Sia and JD Samson, who were sleeping in a tent. They came to listen to us in their PJs. It was so cute," Phanie said. "That night, they watched us play and really enjoyed the set. Sia asked to tour with us there and then. She's a really kind-heart, down to earth gal."

Just like those girls from San Antonio.