SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS NEWS
Web Posted: 05/26/2009
They’re punk rockers. They’re Latinas. And on their new album, the girls of Girl in a Coma are combining those two elements in their distinctively powerful style.
The local indie punk phenoms pay homage to their families and cultural legacy while they add another layer to both their sound and the local punk scene. The band will unleash its sophomore album, Trio B.C., at a local release party on Friday, May 29, at Jack’s Patio Bar & Grill before beginning a national tour. The official release date is Tuesday, June 2.
Girl in a Coma garnered attention with its 2007 debut album Both Before I’m Gone on Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records. Both Before I’m Gone hit No. 23 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart, and the single “Clumsy Sky” also won the Independent Music Award for Best Punk Song. The band was recently nominated for an American Latino Award as well.
For their second release, sisters Nina (singer/guitarist) and Phanie Diaz (drummer) and Jenn Alva (bassist) found new influences in ’90s music from bands such as The Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth, Garbage, Sponge and Radiohead. They also dived deeper into their Latina culture by taking the album’s name from the 1950s Tejano band in which the Diazes’ grandfather played. And they included their first song in Spanish, “Ven Cerca.”
The new album mixes it up with songs like the high-energy “Baby Boy” (Alva’s favorite), the slow, emotive “Trail” (Phanie’s favorite) and “El Monte,” which reminds Nina of something Sandy would sing in the musical “Grease.”
“We’ve got this punk rock vibe, and of course, we’re influenced by many punk bands,” Alva said. “But the thing with us and Nina’s lyrics, it’s kind of an unintentional art form.”
Punk music is something Alva and Phanie believe will live on for quite a while longer because of the attitude that comes with it.
“Punk’s not dead,” Alva said. “It’s really never going to go away. It seems like it’s always going to be really cool and it’s always going to be the rebellious thing to do, almost especially for teenagers.”
“It’s very organic,” Phanie added. “If you’re looking for the basis of rock ’n’ roll as a rock band, you listen to bands like The Ramones and The Sex Pistols. ..... That was before it was tainted and they were telling you, ‘You have to look this way,’ or ‘You have to sound this way.’ It was coming from the heart.”
Nina said when she sings, she hopes people are able to rebel against their personal inhibitions.
“I know when I sing, I’m not singing or thinking about a certain cause,” Nina said. “I’m just trying to make everyone else want to sing or scream, to try to break out of their shell in a certain way.”
Phanie sees a lot of potential for the local punk scene to score some national attention as long as bands are willing to go on tour.
“You don’t have to move to Austin,” Phanie said. “You don’t have to move to Los Angeles. Even if you’re from San Antonio, you can just tour and come home and just keep doing it over and over.”
But, in recent months, not all news about the band has been positive, nor has it all been music-related. Just days after playing Austin’s South by Southwest Music Conference in March, Nina and Alva were arrested on felony assault charges after an altercation with police at a bar in Houston.
However, the charges don’t seem to have dampened the band’s commitment to its music.
“I think if anything we’re closer, definitely,” Phanie said. “We’ve always, since we started, had each other’s backs, and we still do. ..... This is what we love to do and it will always come first.”
Nina said the band members felt compelled to include a song in Spanish on the new album — a cover of Los Spitfires’ “Ven Cerca”— to acknowledge their culture.
“It’s something that we can’t fight. It’s in us. We’re Latinas,” Nina said. “It’s breathing down our necks, like, ‘This is you. Learn the language. Learn to speak it. Learn to understand it. This is your culture.’ So this is just kind of a first foot into the water, till we dive in.”