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Star power: Girl in a Coma counts Morrissey, Joan Jett among its fans
By: Nancy Dunham
Special to The Examiner
April 29, 2010

It's OK with Nina Diaz if you want to compare her band, Girl in a Coma, to the Runaways.

That comparison between Joan Jett's all-girl band and Diaz's all-girl band that Jett signed to her own Blackheart Records label has been made quite a bit since "The Runaways" movie was released.

"We were talking about all-girl bands the other day," Diaz said as the trio traveled near Chicago. "The Runaways came in rock form, and if we're called a descendant of them, well, that's great to hear. It's a great compliment. If someone someday says a rocking all-girl band is a descendant of Girl in a Coma, that would be an amazing compliment."

Comparisons between the bands have been made almost since Diaz was 12 and formed the band with her sister Phanie and their friend Jenn Alva. The band began as a way to expand on the music the members loved by Morrissey -- who famously wrote the song "Girlfriend in a Coma" -- the Smiths and others. It became something more when Morrissey invited them to open for him on a leg of a tour.

"[Morrissey] came to see us at [the Los Angeles club] the Viper Room and gave us some compliments," Diaz said, soon after that European tour. "It just makes you feel so cool and like anything is possible."

And it almost has been for Girl in a Coma, which has gone on to tour with such major musicians as the Pogues and Social Distortion.

Continuing to tour behind its last full-length album, "Trio B.C.," the band has also released three EPs titled "Adventures in Coverland," Vol. 1, Vol. 2 and Vol. 3, that show the members' extensive influences. Songs on those EPs include everything from "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" by George Harrison to "Walkin' After Midnight" by Patsy Cline.

Those classic songs show the basic foundation from which Girl in a Coma built its more sophisticated, mature sound that Diaz predicts will continue to expand when the band releases its next full-length original CD, likely next year. But don't think the high-energy fun is going anywhere as the band builds its catalog.

"We still have the basic bass, drum, guitar [band]," Diaz said. "We don't dress up [for concerts] in a certain way. The main thing about us is our energy. When you hear our albums it's one thing, but during shows you really get to feel the emotion and energy of our band."