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Girl in a Coma band wakes up on new album
BY ALAN SCULLEY Idaho Statesman
Published: 11/25/11

If there’s a recurring theme that seems to sum up the events of the past two years for Girl In A Coma — including the rock trio’s new CD, “Exits & And All The Rest” — it boils down to the word growth.

Some of the events that have produced the growth have been anything but easy, but bassist Jenn Alva thinks her band, which will perform Saturday at Neurolux, is in a better place now because of the experiences.

One incident occurred in March 2009 at a Houston nightclub called Chances. Singer/guitarist Nina Diaz got into an argument with an ex-boyfriend. Alva, hurrying to check on things after being summoned by the group’s drummer, Phanie Diaz (Nina’s older sister), slipped on some beer, fell, and in a fit of anger ended up scuffling with a police officer. Nina Diaz had words with the officer, and the two ended up facing third-degree felony charges — that were dropped — and spending a night in jail.

Reflecting on the incident, Alva sees it as an unfortunate experience that could have some long-term benefits for the San Antonio band.

“It’s one of those things now looking back, where if it didn’t happen, there could have been something even worse to come,” she said in an early November phone interview. “I don’t want to say I’m glad it happened, but kind of, because then we learn. It’s just a learning lesson overall. We’ve never been disrespectful girls. It was just a weird situation and weird timing. You know, we’re not, like, anti-police or anything like that. It was just wrong place, wrong time.”

It also was a wake-up call that helped bring about some significant lifestyle changes, as well as a new perspective on the band and its future.

Alva and Nina Diaz have quit drinking.

“You know, you’re this rock-and-roll boat that’s taking you to this cliche (lifestyle) like parties, playing music, doing drugs, whatever it is,” Alva said. “And not every musician has to do that. You just have to think about things like that. Do I want to be perceived as this cliche, another rock and roll girl, or do I want to do something different?”

Another event that brought some perspective to the group, was the death of Alva’s mother in March.

“It was kind of tough,” Alva said. “I was writing and recording during all of this craziness. That’s why we named the album ‘Exits & All The Rest,’ because there are bigger exits.”

Now Girl In A Coma has re-emerged with renewed dedication to its music and career and feeling a tighter bond as a group.

The musical improvement is readily apparent on “Exits & All The Rest.”

That’s not to disparage the band’s previous CDs of original material. “Exits & All The Rest,” surpasses the earlier work.

The more punk-edged elements are softened as the band’s sound shifts toward less frenetic, but still assertive, tempos on first-rate songs like the shimmering “Smart,” the sad-toned, yet melodious rocker “Cemetery Baby” and the riff-happy “Hope.”

But there’s more complexity to several songs, as well as a few songs that offer inventive and striking twists.

Alva feels the band’s songwriting has improved, and there’s a cohesion and confidence to “Exits & All The Rest” that the group didn’t achieve on its earlier CDs.

“All of these songs go together. It’s a lot more flowing. ... It just kind of happened.”

“There are no gimmicks,” she said. “We just play and play our hearts out and I think that’s what our fans like to see.”