AUSTIN ON STAGE

Return to Girl In A Coma

 

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Girl in a Coma

By Nick Manix

Hailing from San Antonio, the female rock group Girl in a Coma has been making a solid name for themselves during the past few years.

The group formed when best friends Jenn Alva and Phanie Diaz met in junior high school art class - over a mutual love of the Smiths, Nirvana, and skipping school. They recruited Nina Diaz - Phanie's then 12-year old little sister - as lead singer, after she blew them away
with her mesmerizing vocals and a powerful voice that some critics have compared to Bjork, Patsy Cline, and the band's hero, Morrissey himself.

The trio practiced for three years, gigged at local punk rock clubs, played a high school talent show, one kid's birthday party, and then hit the road - building up a solid and loyal fan base across the country. The fate intervened in 2006.

The Girls played for Joan Jett and long-time songwriting partner and producer, Kenny Laguna, at New York's Knitting Factory, as part of a cable television show featuring unknown bands. Jett and Laguna signed the band on the spot to their label, Blackheart Records.
The band's 2007 debut album, Both Before I'm Gone, was a critical hit, and lead to an opening spot on Morrissey's European and U.S. tours. This exposure landed them headlining shows in venues coast-to-coast, a featured spot on Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors" tour, and tours with the Pogues and Social Distortion.

The ladies will tear up the stage at Emo's on Thursday, September 24th. Nick Manix spoke to the band about to the all-girl rock group from San Antonio - who will play Emo's on September 24th - about how they started, being discovered by Joan Jett, touring with Morrissey, and their new album, Trio B.C.

Nick Manix: How did Girl in a Coma come to be?

Girl in a Coma: It all started in the late 90s. Jenn and Phanie were in punk band together and played gigs around San Antonio. They stopped for a while, since they were having trouble finding the right members.

In 2001, they decided to start up another band. Nina decided to show us a song she had been working on, and we were blown away with her voice and writing skills. So we decided to make her the lead of the band - even though she was only 12.


N.M.: Who are your influences?

G.I.A.C.: Nirvana, Babes in Toyland, Jeff Buckley, Elvis, Selena, Sonic Youth - the list goes on.


N.M.: How long did it take for you to put together your first album, Both Before I'm Gone - and how long before Blackheart Records took notice?


G.I.A.C.: BBIG was seven years of songs. We had been touring and playing, but never had an official release. We met Kenny Laguna and Joan Jett after about five years of being together. After we signed and went to record BBIG, it took about less then a mouth to finish the record.

N.M.: What's it like being signed by Joan Jett, one of the pioneering women in rock history?


G.I.A.C.: Amazing - ahe's also a major influence on us. She is still true and humble.

N.M.: You worked on the "True Colors" tour with many talented artists, including Cyndi Lauper - what was the experience like?


G.I.A.C.: Very inspirational. You see these people, who have been at it for years and years, and you can only watch and learn. You still see the passion and love for what


they do. We hope to be the same as we grow. We want to be able to tour and have many records under our belts years from now.

N.M.: It seems like you've been touring non-stop since the 2007 release of your first album. Where did you find the time to write and record your new album, Trio B.C.?


G.I.A.C.: Our approach had to change, since we decided to keep touring and touring. Before, we had all the time we wanted - time to sit at home and work on a song. Now, Nina will write in motels and in the back of the van while on the road. She has more to write about now, and more experience and experiences. When we do get some time home, we will get together and start at a song. It's been working.

N.M.: Girl in a Coma hit a legal speed bump back in March of 2009 when charges of "felony assault on a public servant" were brought against Jenn and Nina. So what happened at the nightclub Chances, in Houston, and what was the verdict?

G.I.A.C.: Case dismissed. Two off-duty officers working security at the club roughed up the girls and said things they should not have. It's hard to have to fight the system, but we decided we needed to - because it's just not right. We lost a lot time, money and energy, but we are glad justice prevailed. It's a big eye opener for us - needing to watch out for situations like that. Hopefully, the club will start paying more attention to who they hire - and how they treat their customers.


N.M.: You've opened for some amazing artists - including the Pogues and Morrissey in the U.S. and Europe - and I'm sure that had to be an amazing experience. Any major highlights from the tours, and who would be your dream artist to open for?


G.I.A.C.: Morrissey was a sweetheart. The highlight would have to be opening for him in Paris, and getting some hang-time with him before the show. Pogues were great, too, and we still remain friends with Spider. Our dream opening spot would have to be Sonic Youth - or Babes In Toyland getting back together and bringing us along. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs is another.

N.M.: Trio B.C. is an amazing album, and I found the track "El Monte" to be lyrically entertaining. Where did that song stem from?


G.I.A.C.: El Monte is a street close to where we live. The lyrics come from an experience on that street.

N.M.: What's next for Girl in a Coma?


G.I.A.C.: Tour, tour and tour!