THE MONITOR

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Girl In A Coma talks touring and why they love the Valley
Zack Quaintance
2009-08-20 00:54:20
This week Festiva is focusing on the summer tours embarked upon by local and regional bands --- such as Girl In A Coma, the all-girl rock trio who kicked off their nationwide tour at Smokin' Aces in McAllen.

Girl in a Coma accomplished big things this summer. The all-girl rock trio from San Antonio played for crowds in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, where the group’s show sold out.

Before that, they launched a nationwide tour with a packed show in the Valley. The group rocked Smokin’ Aces in early June. Valley rock fans should feel blessed. The group has signed to Joan Jett’s label. They’ve opened for Morrissey. And they’ve released a solid sophomore album dubbed Trio B.C.

Just like many Valley-based bands, the girls started out as an unknown act from South Texas. For Festiva’s summer tour issue, it seemed fitting to collect road stories and advice from Girl in a Coma’s bassist Jenn Alva.

How was the tour this summer?

JENN ALVA: It was amazing. There was a great start in Texas, which is really good for us because it makes us want to make our state proud. We get a lot of support. The band that opened up for us was Miss. Derringer. They were a great band and a pleasure to work with. They made the tour even better. It was just a really strong tour and it went by really fast.

You kicked off your tour here in the Valley. How was that show for you guys?

It was incredible. It was jam packed. It had great energy. There’s something about South Texas in general. It’s got this different kind of energy and more dancing rather than other cities where they’re too shy to dance or that’s not their thing. I think South Texas is great about showing that they’re really enjoying the music.

You have a big fan following here. How do you feel about that?

It’s great. It’s weird because we were just talking about this the other day. It takes about five hours to get to the Valley. That drive there, it’s not really that bad compared to the drive from San Antonio to Dallas. We don’t really like it. We’d rather drive to the Valley than drive to Dallas, because it goes by faster and it’s more enjoyable. It’s 35 North all the way to Dallas. It’s just a lot of traffic. Driving south, it’s just a country view and it’s nice.

What were some of the high points?

All the major cities. When we’d go on tour before, it’d be the smaller towns where we draw more. It’s completely the opposite this time. New York was amazing. Chicago was incredible. Seattle was great. San Francisco we almost sold out. And in L.A. we sold out.

And the low points?

There weren’t many. Our van broke down in the desert on our way to L.A. That sucked and we had to wait until the sun set. We had to drive our van into Long Beach. We were pretty late, we almost missed our show, but we still got to play. I suggest every touring band have a little bit of money in case emergencies like that happen, because they will. Vans are unpredictable no matter how new or old.

How do you keep in touch with friends and family on a nationwide tour?

We communicate through texts, phone calls and the Internet. MySpace and all that stuff.

A misconception I think some people have is that a big summer tour is a non-stop party. It’s a lot of work, isn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s one of the best jobs in the world. But it is a lot of work. There’s a lot of business involved. You have to make sure you communicate with that venue and let them know you will be there on time. It’s called advancing the show. Then the driving is pretty intense, driving from town to town. You’ll play and then load in and load out. You sleep in motel rooms usually, not with fans. It’s a lot of work. This tour, we did 52 shows in two months. We had less than a week off.

How much time do you get to relax?

This time wasn’t much. We did get to go to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., because we were there pretty early. When drives are only two or three hours to the next place, we get to tour the town a little bit. Sometimes we just go straight to the room because we’re tired.

What advice do you have for young bands that want to tour?

Do it ahead of time. It’s a lot easier nowadays. It’s not like the old days when you’d send out press kits and demos, and ask “can we play at your venue?” You can contact all these venues online, and I think it’s better to call too and let them know you’re touring. I wouldn’t say go crazy, especially if you’ve never toured before. I’d say two weeks is probably the best tour, of course with getting time off from work and getting money together. We left for a tour with $500 in our pocket, which I wouldn’t suggest. Have a good supply of merch and buttons, and have that one band member who can talk and really push the merch. That’s what’s going to help you get to the next town with gas and everything. Stay with people, and make sure that they look cool and seem cool.