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Girl in a Coma
Always on the "Road to Home"

By Henry Senecal

Forget the Alamo. Remember Girl in a Coma!
This all girl group from San Antonio is everything a good rock band should be. Often compared to the Smiths, the Pixies and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, it has an incredible sound that’s all its own!

Phanie (Fawn-ee) Diaz drums a fantastic, punk-rock beat with the best of them; Jenn Alva works the bass like nobody can; and Phanie’s kid sister, Nina Diaz, drives it all home playing guitar and delivering her amazingly unique vocals. She has a well-seasoned style that makes it hard to believe she’s only 19-years-old.

The band had been touring for six years when it was featured in a 2006 documentary as an up 'n' coming Latina band. It gave them the opportunity to play at the Knitting Factory in New York City, where Joan Jett and her producing partner Kenny Laguna saw them and signed them to Blackheart Records on the spot.

Its debut album, Both Before I’m Gone, is receiving much deserved critical acclaim. The rhythmic melody and haunting vocals of the single “Road to Home” will linger pleasantly with you. “Say” and “Clumsy Sky” are far out, fun and fast.

The brilliant lyrics wrap around your head almost like a puzzle that takes an extra beat to decipher. “Their Cell” is a great example: “Tattooed lovers they don’t like to reminisce; who knows what name they’re screaming now so I’m saving all my secrets for a deaf man.”

The video for “Road to Home,” featuring a cameo by Joan Jett and starring the incomparable Amanda Lepore, is rising up the charts. Their newest video for the hard bouncing track “Clumsy Sky” isn’t far behind.

The band just rocked the house with the Donnas at the Viper Room, and it’s winning over more fans with every new gig. Touring relentlessly, the girls are always on the road to home.

“It’s been really busy, but no matter how busy it has been, we still have not lost focus on what it is we are doing,” says Phanie when asked how they stay centered out there and keep sight of the bigger picture. “We want to tour and spread our music and remind kids of what music, rock, is all about. It’s a good time, and it’s a state of mind. It’s not fashion. It’s not gender. It’s not a formula. You go out with all you have and remember those who opened the door before you.”

Girl in a Coma is a band of all women, two of them are sisters, and Jenn Alva is openly lesbian. They are vegetarian, Latina and Texan.

They have played Gay Pride gigs, Warped Tour and support PETA. They will embrace their Latina side at the Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood on Sept. 30 by doing a set of Mexican Rock songs in conjunction with the screening of the film A Ritmo Del Twist.

“We definitely threw in some Richie Valens. How can you not?” says Phanie. “We were sent a CD with a variety of songs from the ’50s and ’60s done in Spanish, and we chose our favorites.”

How do these girls manage to give their all to each facet without being confined by any one of them?

Like a true rocker, Phanie puts it brilliantly: “We don’t want to be in the category as a gay band or feminist band. We are a rock band. If we have something to say that’s political, that doesn’t make us a fem band. If Jenn wants to write about herself that doesn’t make us a gay band. It’s human life.”

The group grew up in Texas when the current president held the reins as governor. I had to ask whether the popular, former Texas governor Ann Richards might have made a better president.

“That would have been very interesting,” says Phanie. “I think it’s time for something new – a woman for president.”

I’m thinking maybe even three!