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Girl In A Coma is coming out
By Alan Sculley
Special to the Caller-Times
Friday, February 15, 2008

CORPUS CHRISTI — Jenn Alva, bassist for the San Antonio-based band Girl In A Coma, had good news when she called from London late last month.

The group was opening for former Smiths frontman and British pop icon Morrissey on his tour of France and the United Kingdom. For those who may not know, Morrissey's fans have been known to make life difficult for some of his opening acts.

"There have been some horror stories of past opening acts with Morrissey, so we were already hoping for the best, but expecting the worst," Alva said. "There really hasn't been any of the worst yet, knock on wood."

If Girl In A Coma can pass the test of opening for Morrissey, the group should fare well now that it is back on familiar American soil and beginning a headlining tour that includes Saturday's show at House of Rock.

Girl has won over some notable music figures on its climb to national recording act with a promising future.

A manager who met the trio -- Alva, drummer Phanie Diaz and her younger sister, singer/guitarist Nina Diaz -- passed along a homemade demo tape to friend Box Boorer, Morrissey's guitarist and musical director.

This led an invitation from Boorer three years ago to record the band's first professionally done demo in London.

"We all agreed to remain calm and cool because we were fans," Alva said. "Once we met him in London, he was a buddy right away and we were being ourselves and he was recording us."

As it turned out, though, Boorer wasn't the only career-enhancing contact the group made. Two years later, Girl got the chance to star in a pilot for SiTV cable network program called "Jammin'" -- a show which spotlighted promising new Latino acts.

As part of the episode, Girl played a show at the Knitting Factory in New York for two guest stars who turned out to be rocker Joan Jett and her producer and musical partner Kenny Laguna.

Jett and Laguna were to offer advice to Girl but signed the group on the spot to their label, Blackheart Records.

The group soon was touring, and the experience Girl has gained shows in the quality of the group's first CD on Blackheart Records, "Both Before I'm Gone." Girl's music has a decidedly punk side, particularly when the group cranks up the energy on churning rockers such as "Clumsy Sky" and "I'll Ask Him." But these songs also come with uncommonly potent pop melodies, nifty changes in tempos and smart instrumental parts.

As singer, Nina Diaz is a major asset. She has been called a female Morrissey, and while her vocals elicit a crooning-like quality (especially on ballads "Their Cell" and "Road To Home"), her tone is edgier and has a dramatic, gothic feel that may remind some of Siouxsie from Siouxsie and the Banshees.

While Alva said the group is pleased with the CD, she said playing live is still what drives the band.

"Being on stage, I think that's the highlight of what we do," Alva said. "We can't wait to perform. That's what we love to do. ... It's a very passionate performance and a lot of energy, no matter if it's two people watching us or 3,000."