by Max Gelber
Bay Windows Contributor
Wednesday Oct 1, 2008
Naming your band for a song by one of your idols automatically raises
listener expectations, but for Girl In A Coma, when the idols in question
are the infamous and legendary The Smiths, there’s a lot to
live up to. With their debut record Both Before I’m Gone, released
last year on Blackheart Records (started by another music legend,
Joan Jett), sisters Nina (vocals/guitar) and Phanie Diaz (drums) alongside
bassist Jenn Alva, placed those legendary influences on their sleeves,
while also mixing in a healthy dose of punk influences and a dash
of Rockabilly-era Elvis to a create a sound that caught not only Ms.
Jett’s ear, but also that of Smiths front-man Morrissey, who
invited them on the road to finish off his European tour late last
year. This weekend, the girls roll into The Palladium, opening for
twin lesbian powerhouses Tegan and Sara. Bay Windows caught up with
bassist Jenn Alva for a quick chat about supporting their record,
touring with the Moz, and what the future looks like for Girl In A
Q: You guys getting excited for the tour?
A: Oh yeah, absolutely, very excited.
Q: How’s the tour promoting the album been going so far?
A: It’s going good. Every show seems to be developing a little
bit more fans here and there with word of mouth; it’s going
Q: Getting a good fan reception from audiences out there?
A: Yeah, I mean the album is great, but there’s still nothing
like watching a band live and we try and put on a good, live show,
not necessarily with gimmicks, but, you know, moving around, rocking
out, and just having a good time.
Q: It seems this tour has been going on for a while, so have you
finally gotten comfortable doing your live thing?
A: We’ve been touring since ’04, but we’re absolutely
getting comfortable with timing, and traveling, and driving, and you
know, I wish driving wasn’t a part of it, but it is. It’s
probably the only thing that we don’t like.
Q: How was the tour in Europe with Morrissey last year? He’s
pretty infamous for being a bit of a diva on tour.
A: It was really good, we went in there, and we were honored. It was
our first time overseas, and we wanted to do a good job and we tried
to keep that whole mentality of, just do the job. We always put the
fan part of us aside, and we turned into workers and with the whole
Morrissey thing, we’d see him now and then, we’d say hello,
but we pretty much stayed in our dressing room and got focused on,
we’ve got 30 minutes to play so we better make it good, cause
we’ve never been over here. But the last night on the tour in
Paris he came to our dressing room, and gave us a bottle of champagne,
and he was being really sweet and we talked for a little while, and
to us, he’s a sweetheart and we were just very grateful that
he invited us out on tour and we left on good terms.
Q: Did you learn anything, as musicians, from that tour, being on
that large level with him?
A: Yeah, we picked up on a lot of things. We’ve always been
an opening band for bigger bands, just to maintain your cool, though
we didn’t face many hecklers. I mean, we’ve already got
that whole punk rock vibe of, if you’re going to say something
we’re going to say something back as well. But with these tours
and having learned this isn’t our tour and to let it go, but
if it’s our show then I’ll jump out in the crowd and have
fun or whatever, but we learned to be more professional.
Q: Do you have a preference for playing those larger shows or the
more intimate, smaller shows?
A: I think for Girl, and me, we like the balance of both, like, you
know, for a year doing something huge - it’s good practice trying
to grab a lot of people’s attention at once with your music.
But then we love doing our own [headlining] shows which are always
fun and there’s always a story, so I think as long as each year
we do both, which we will hopefully, get asked back from other bands
Q: How did you guys get attached to this tour with Tegan and Sara?
A: There was actually a letter from Tegan, I know that she’s
heard of us before and kept in some contact here and there. I guess
when they were discussing openers, she was like, "let’s
bring out Girl in a Coma and see if they want to do it," and
we were like, of course. We’re fans too, and it’s going
to be a different fan base for us, and it’s always a challenge,
like yeah, we’re down for it, let’s see what we can do
with their fan base and see if we can get them to like us. We’re
also so excited to see them play almost every night so that’s
Q: So what’s in the near future for Girl in a Coma, more touring?
Any new material coming out soon?
A: We’re going to finish up the year supporting Both Before
I’m Gone and then next year we’ll have a new album out
which we’ve already recorded and I’m really excited about
it. It’s different from the first record. The first album was
a lot of songs we’ve been playing since we’d started and
this one’s all pretty fresh. It’s a really unique, different
album, it’s still "us," but I’m really proud
of it. It comes out next year so we’ll be touring again to promote
that. So we’ll probably be touring for another 5, 7, 8 years
Q: Was the recording process any different this time? Did you guys
take anything that you learned from doing the first record that you
wanted to do differently?
A: We took advantage of the studio this time around. Both Before I’m
Gone was a lot more raw and that’s what I love about it; we’re
just a three piece so we don’t want to jazz it up too much with
like, so many keys or violins or this and that. But this time did
take a little bit of an advantage, to understand that we can do some
new things and still be able to play the song live, and I don’t
think people are going to miss anything. They’re still going
to get it.
Girl in a Coma open for Tegan and Sara at The Palladium, 261 Main
St., Worcester, on Oct. 4. Doors 6:00 p.m., show starts at 7:00. Tickets
available at the door or call (800) 477-6849 or visit tickets.com.