Girl in a Coma Wakes Up Music Industry with a Boost from Joan Jett!:
Two best friends and one sister from San Antonio showed up for a documentary on breaking into the music business and left the adjoining gig with a recording contract from Blackheart Records' head mastermind Joan Jett. Girl in a Coma, a down-to-earth all-chick punk/rock band is comprised of Phanie Diaz, Nina Diaz and Jenn Alvarez. Their sheer ambition and raw talent are about to take over the world...beginning with Canada where they are touring for the first time -- something both Phanie and Jenn exclaim with child-like excitement.
Inspiring young women to reach their full musical potential is at the heart of their work. In fact, Jenn mentions to me off-the-cuff that she would like to see a plethora of female rock bands come out of the woodwork and sneak into the music world to alter the currently male-dominated industry so that everyone has a chance to create and play music regardless of gender. Girl in a Coma is definitely not the sleeping giant they might have once been. They are here and they are headed to your hometown to rouse your neighbors.
SheWired sat down with two of the band's three members, Phanie and Jenn, to chat about their newest release Adventures in Coverland, sisterhood and Joan Jett. In the background, pedals were being pumped and guitars were being tuned. Ah, the musician's life.
SheWired: Where are you right now?
Phanie: We are in San Antonio right now getting ready to go on the road!
SheWired: Tell me, how excited were you to get signed onto Joan Jett's record label?
Phanie: It's amazing! It's definitely the perfect label for us. It's a pretty cool label and it's run by someone who's awesome. We have a lot of freedom at Blackheart Records and there's nobody trying to tell us how to release records and how to release music. She is great to work with and gives us a lot of advice because she has been doing it for such a long time. It's good to have her behind us and checking in on us; it's awesome.
Phanie: From what I hear, if larger labels want releases done at certain times then you have to do that and they also butt in when it comes to artwork and packaging. You know, if we have an idea and we go to the label and they think it's a good idea, then we have them behind us with no questions asked. We have creative control of how we write our songs and what is going to go on the record. It's really cool. We're three girls and we're really proud of who we are and where we come from and that's another thing - we're never told that we have to wear certain things and look a certain way, lose weight and all of that.
SheWired: You have a tour right around the corner. Where are you headed?
Phanie: Yes, we're leaving April 6, 2010 and we're supporting music group bands. We'll start with the Wedding Present - they are a band from England. Then we will be supporting Sia so it's going to be a lot of fun. We're going to Canada for the first time so we're really excited!
Jenn: We were supposed to do the whole tour with the Wedding Present, but they let us go so that we could jump onto Sia's tour so we're really excited and grateful for the way that it all worked out.
SheWired: Awesome. Where are you headed in the U.S.?
Phanie: We're starting in New York and will be shooting up the east coast. Then we will go over to Seattle and jump on Sia's tour and rally all the way back to where we started in New York.
SheWired: Speaking of the road, how does that go with three women? Are you having fun, wanting to pull out each other's hair? What is it like?
Phanie: We travel in a van and it's fun! We get to see the country together. I'm traveling with my best friend of 16 years and my sister. We get along great and just have a really great chemistry. We know when to back off and give each other space when we need it. It's really a great experience out on the road with them.
SheWired: Let's go back to when you first were signed by Joan Jett. Wow.
Phanie: Yeah! We were actually filming a documentary for a Spanish/English music television show about unsigned bands. At the end of the show, we were going to meet Joan. She was supposed to come and give us advice and just leave it like that. We walked into the room and were like, "oh my God, it's Joan Jett". She watched us rehearse and then attended our show at the Knitting Factory in New York. It was like a dream come true. She automatically signed us to Blackheart Records when we were finished with our set. We were really nervous and intimidated, but she made us really relaxed. It was really cool.
SheWired: That is about as life changing as it comes. Congratulations on all of that!
Phanie: Thank you, thank you.
SheWired: How has getting signed changed your life?
Jenn: Well, before when we were unsigned, we were making so many sacrifices. It was like, "when is this going to pay off?" and "how can we afford this?" and all of the normal things you think when you're trying to make things work. Getting signed was the motivation and boost that we needed. You know, we were living at friends' houses and were stressing out. Blackheart Records was just the perfect fit for us. They came right on time too. If they had come along any earlier, we might not have been ready. We're lucky, lucky girls.
SheWired: You were friends, too, before all of this happened, right?
Jenn: Oh, yeah, they are real sisters but the three of us have been sisters since 1992. Their mom is like my mom and vice versa.
SheWired: Are there any sacrifices that you feel you've had to make since being signed?
Jenn: No, see, that is the beauty of this record label. They allow us to be whatever we want and we all work together. They actually came up with the idea to have us make an album of covers. They come along with the perception of "what do you guys want to do and how can we help you make it happen?" They are our east coast family and we totally feed off of each other.
SheWired: What are your roles in the band on and off the road?
Phanie: In the band, each of us has taken on different things without knowing it. I do most of the communicating online, updating social networks, responding to fan mail and all of that. I guess I am more on the business end of it. Jenn is the talker. She loves to meet people and make things happen. Nina is the main songwriter of this band. She is constantly writing and is the balance within the band if things are getting hectic and everything. It's kind of been working like that for a couple of years and it works really well for us.
Jenn: Yeah, Nina would really like to do a duet or something with Mike Patten or the lead singer of Cars. I can't think off the top of my head, but it would be really great to work with some of our favorites.
SheWired: What are some of your favorite albums?
Jenn: For me, my favorite albums are anything from Smashing Pumpkins, Rufus Wainwright and then every Elvis album that exists.
SheWired: I hear that you have a fantastic fan base. What are your fans like?
Jenn: We've got a wonderful following. We've got our gay men following because Nina's got this fantastic voice. Because we are all Latinas, we've got our Latin following. We've got young girls because they just love girl rock. It's a big mix of fans and we adore all of them.
SheWired: Adventures in Coverland will be released soon. Tell us about this album.
Jenn: "Adventures in Coverland" will be having a staggered release on April 13, 20 and 27, 2010. It's one of those things where people could have even more of a biased opinion because we'll be dealing with Beatles' fans, David Bowie fans and Selena fans, etc. We're looking forward to hearing all of the responses. It's going to be cool. We're excited!