VELVET PARK

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Rock band Girl in A Coma hails from San Antonio—land of the Alamo, puffy tacos and Lone Star Beer. Since forming the band in 2001, Jenn Alva (bass, backing vocals) and sisters Phanie (drums) and Nina Diaz (guitar, lead vocals) have shared the stage with the likes of Frank Black, The Pogues, The Start, and Joan Jett. The Smiths have been a musical influence, and their song, ‘Girlfriend In A Coma’, inspired their name. After signing last year to Joan Jett’s label, Blackheart Records, April 2007 saw the release of their first full length album, ‘Both Before I’m Gone’. I caught up with the group at the kick-off of their summer tour at Red Seven in Austin, TX.

Velvetpark: In addition to The Smiths, who else has been a major musical influence?

Phanie: There’s a lot! Jenn and I are influenced by the Riot Grrl stuff like Bikini Kill and Babes In Toyland.

Nina: Vocally I’m influenced by Bjork, Jeff Buckley, Thom Yorke- ’cause you can’t understand what I’m saying. Also Billy Holiday and that old school shaky voice stuff.

Jenn: Rufus Wainwright big time. A lot of variety.

Vp: Who were your earliest musical influences?

All: Guns and Roses.

Phanie: My mom was always spinning her vinyl. It was a lot of Elvis, the Beatles, and Patsy Cline.

Nina: Nivana.

Vp: What bands are you currently listening to?

Phanie: French Kicks and The Isles.

Nina: I’ve been listening to Faith No More again.

Phanie: Jenn’s been listening to Barbara Streisand. (laughter)

Jenn: The secret gay man inside of me.

Vp: What do you think San Antonio adds to your music?

Jenn: It’s a great art culture, not necessarily just music. There’s this Mexican-American vibe and it’s the way you’re raised.

Phanie: It’s real down to earth with a family vibe. To me Hispanic families are real tight, so it’s kind of like that as a whole down there.

Jenn: And the Mexican food. (laughter)

Vp: How did you connect with Joan Jett’s label?

Jenn: We did a television show called SíTv - it’s a Latin English-speaking channel. Originally they were going to surprise us with an idol and they were going to give us advice, but Joan started liking us and she signed us on the spot.

Vp: How long is the tour?

Phanie: Two and a half months. We do some dates with the Warped Tour and after that we’re trying to hook up with Tegan and Sara, but we’re still working on that.