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Girl in a Coma, it’s serious

San Antonio trio on writing, being raised on the road, and Morrissey


INTERVIEW. Note to musicians of the future: When you name your group after one of the more beloved songs by one of the most influential bands of an era, people are going to ask you about it. Forever. No relief then for San Antonio’s Girl in a Coma, who have shackled themselves in perpetuity to our man Morrissey and The Smiths.

But while they do share some lyrical motifs: dead rock stars, Oscar Wilde and woe begotten romances, the similarities end there. The music on this noisy three piece’s debut “Both Before I’m Gone,” is a whirl of crashing chords and jerky rhythms, torn apart at the seams by the lovelorn, harrowing drama of vocalist Nina Diaz. Her older sis, drummer Phannie Diaz, spoke to us about nominal, and familial, baggage.

Playing in a band with your sister has to provide for some interesting dynamics. Do you two fight much?
Well, there’s an eight-year gap between us. So when we started it was like, not only are you in a band with your sister, but I was technically also kind of raising her, since we were out on the road so much. She was 13, so I tried to show her life lessons —what’s good and what’s bad — but respecting her in her own way, because she was writing and doing a lot of stuff that people her age were not doing. But now that we’ve grown together, and this is almost seven years later, she’s completely mature and I find myself going to her for advice.

You brought your 13-year-old sister on the road to play rock shows!?
[Laughs.] I just had faith in her. The first time we heard her singing we were completely blown away. Jenn (Alva, bass) and I were trying to start a band at the time. And to hear her come out and show us this song that we thought was someone else’s ... we were like, “We don’t care how old she is, let’s just do it.”

From recording your first EP with Boz Boorer, to touring with Moz himself, to your band name, it looks like you guys are going to be answering questions about the Morrissey thing for a long time. Does that ever get old?
When we first started, we were definitely fanatics. But the thing that sucks about it, and [we didn’t think] about it at the time, people want to automatically compare us to The Smiths or Morrissey, and think every song is a reference to them. It’s not. When we’re writing we don’t say, “This song has to sound like this Morrissey song … ” It’s a completely different vibe. And then he just happened to come to a show, and he happened to like us, so he brought us along. Everyone’s got the Morrissey questions … ‘What’s he like? Give us the dirt.’ and there’s really nothing to say other than that he’s a sweet dude and he liked our stuff. And that’s cool, you know?

Being on Joan Jett’s label, you must get a lot of questions about her, too.
Joan is like a big sister to us. When it comes to the business, being in the industry, all those silly things, we just go to her. She says to always live in the moment. She feels regret, being in the Runaways, she didn’t have time to enjoy what was happening around her. The success she was having. Because being on the go just gets in the way. She tells us to just live in it.