Return to Girl In A Coma


Coma chameleons
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 Coma.

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 really great.

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 and whatever.

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 also fun.

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 [laughs].

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