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Deseret Morning News, Friday, May 25, 2007

Stars reached out to Girl in a Coma

Texas-based band looking forward to its concert in S.L.

By Scott Iwasaki
Deseret Morning News

Nina Diaz — guitarist/vocalist for the band Girl in a Coma — says her older sister Phanie (the band's bassist) was a major musical influence in her life.

"She introduced me to Nirvana," Diaz said by phone from a van in Brownsville, Texas. "And when she and (drummer Jenn Alva) were getting their music together, I was hoping I could do something with them."


In preparation, Diaz not only devoured the music of Nirvana, but she also studied Radiohead, Morrissey, Bjork, Jeff Buckley and Billie Holiday.


"They also influenced my lyrics," said Diaz who writes most of the words for Girl in a Coma. "I especially like the old songs. They tell stories and I like telling stories."


Texas-based Girl in a Coma played shows throughout the San Antonio area until 2004, when the three embarked on a nationwide tour and a jaunt to England, which came after their idol Morrissey heard one of their demo tapes.


Upon returning to the states, the band played Vans Warped Tour, and opened for the Pogues and Frank Black & the Catholics. "The Pogues were so cool," said Diaz. "We opened for them in Chicago. And then were were able to open for Frank Black. He was also very sweet.


"We played one of the worst shows of our life. I mean, I was still learning how to tune my guitar and it was out of tune, but he said we played hard and well and liked us."


Last year, Girl in a Coma caught the ear of punk icon Joan Jett and were asked immediately to sing on Jett's label, Blackheart Records. "It was so cool that they wanted us in that family. I mean, we're the odd ones on the label. We don't sound like any of the other bands. But they wanted us."


Girl in a Coma teamed up with producers and former Sparta members Erick Sanger and Gabe Gonzales to record "Both Before I'm Gone," GIAC's debut album. Longtime Jett producer Kenny Laguna oversaw the sessions. "We had so many songs to choose from, because we had been writing songs for more than six years. We chose 25 and then narrowed the field down to 15."


Diaz said she liked the recording process. "The other two would say they like playing live, but I like recording. We didn't change too much of the songs, except to add some harmonies and second-guitar tracks. But we didn't change too much. Because we didn't want to mess things up for our live shows."


Girl in a Coma is no stranger to Salt Lake City, having played here a few times over the years, the band will return on Saturday. "I love playing there. The last time we played in Salt Lake City, everyone was so nice and receptive. We can't wait to go back."