A.L. HARPER

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Interview with band Girl In A Coma
When you name your band after a song by a very famous, nearly legendary band like The Smiths, you’re bound to suffer from endless comparisons. If I were going to make comparisons between Girl In A Coma (GIAC) and The Smiths it would probably be something along the lines of, smooth sounds, passionate, ironic lyrics, and Morrissey-esque vocals. Let me say right now, I’m not a huge fan of Morrissey, what with his famous bouts of diva-esque behaviourfrequent displays of arrogance and attitude, and his apparent disregard for his fans. You won’t see me making comparisons lightly. However frontwoman Nina Diaz has the kind of voice that makes you think of a young Morrissey, addictive to listen to, creamy smooth, warblingly melodic and alt-rock rich. GIAC’s retro cool sound has shades of The Smiths, with the attitude of Nirvana, and the smell of Elvis; ultra cool, laid-back punk with alt rock sensibilities, and that 1950’s aw-shucks style charm.

Sisters Nina (vocals, guitar) and Phanie Diaz (drums) and high school chum Jenn Alva (bass) from San Antonio, Texas have been playing together, writing songs, and developing their retro-cool, unique sound over the last eight years; and now, signed to the queen-of-rock-cool Joan Jett’s label Blackheart Records, they have released their debut album Both Before I’m Gone and are embarking on a tour of the UK, opening for none other than Morrissey himself. Unfortunately their recent tour schedule means I had to conduct this Band of the Week interview via email, something I hate doing. However with a band as exciting and talented as GIAC I was willing to make an exception. Below are the questions as answered by Phaine, and beneath that I have attached the video for GIAC’s hot single “Clumsy Sky”. Enjoy!

How did Girl in a Coma come together?

We came together in 2001. Jenn and I [Phanie] had been playing in punk bands around San Antonio through the mid '90s. Then we decided to stop for a while since we could never find the perfect chemistry with anyone. While we were playing I had shown Nina (my younger sister) some chords and she kept at it. One day she asked to show us a song she had written. When she was done we were completely blown away with her writing skills and voice. We immediately started a band with her despite our eight year age gap.

Tell me about Both Before I'm Gone. What kind of sound are you going for? What are you currently listening too and what effect does that have on your current sound?

Both Before I'm Gone is a collection of what we consider our stronger songs over the eight years we have been together. There is not specifically any sound we are trying to go for. When we get together and write, it either works or doesn't. We definitely grew up with different influences which now obviously come out in our style. I grew up with a lot of punk and riot girl, Nina loves old jazz and singer/songwriters and Jenn is a huge Elvis fan.

I think my drumming style is definitely more towards punk and simplicity. Nina has the crooner type voice that she picked up from singers such as Billie Holiday and, of course, Moz [Morrissey]. Jenn just loves to go all over the board. She has a wide range, which spawned off of bass players such as Peter Hook, to bass lines from older Elvis songs.

What is your song writing process? Do you write the music and lyrics as a group?

It usually starts with Nina. She likes to sit alone and write a main hook. Once she shows us, Jenn and I will start writing out parts and helping her guide the songs along. Nina always writes the lyrics. They’re usually based on observation of either our lives or other peoples. Lately she’s been into a lot of musicals, so she’s been writing little tales as lyrics now. Sometimes the best songs come out of us just jamming together. At practice we will start knocking off and just flowing, that’s actually how we wrote
“Race Car Driver”. Once in a while, I will pick the guitar and try to write since I used to play guitar in my earlier bands. I got to write the music for “The Photographer” and the main guitar line for “Mr Chivarly”.

You're about to tour with Morrissey, how does that feel? Are you nervous?

It's definitely an amazing thing. I mean, whoever gets to tour with their main influence?! We feel very lucky to be on tour with him and we’re just amazed that he likes us. He could have easily been “Girl in a Coma? What a stupid name! I am not listening to this.” But he did listen and he liked it. It’s obvious we are fans. We really do respect him though and try not to be fans while we tour. We are there to do our thing and to show our music. We do get nervous because the people are not there to see us, and we’re just another block to the main show. We never know how the Moz fans will be, they are definitely fanatical for him. But overall, we have been well received and always have a great time playing for them.

Where are you hoping to be in five years time? What do you want for your careers/music?

We hope to still be doing the same thing. Touring and making albums. Look at Sonic Youth, what they’re doing is amazing, still making albums, still touring. It’s great. We plan to be around for a long time.

To listen to more tracks by Girl In A Coma you can visit their MySpace or their website. I suggest you just buy their fabulous debut album Both Before I'm Gone, from either Amazon or iTunes, as quickly as you can.