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Girl in a Coma Comes Alive in Chicago
by Emmanuel Garcia

Girl in a Coma is hardly in a state of prolonged unconsciousness.

The San Antonio, Texas, group—made up of sisters Nina Diaz, 19, ( voice/guitar ) , and Phanie, 27, ( drums ) as well as their childhood friend, Jenn Alva, 27 ( bass, backing vocals ) —is on the road this week in support of its latest album, Both Before I’m Gone.

Alva, an open lesbian, talked about Girl in a Coma coming to life and working with Amanda Lepore.

Emmanuel Garcia: How do you identify?

Jenn Alva: I identify with open-mindedness, thinking outside of the box, with passion for music. It’s is a great way to reach out and talk about a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

EG: What is your role in Girl in a Coma?

JA: I play bass, [ during ] lives shows I perform back up harmonies. It’s probably one of my favorite things to do besides play bass, even though I’m not that good.

EG: Who writes the music/lyrics?

JA: We will all do our own parts. Nina will write and show it to us, and we’ll go and put in our opinions if there needs to be any changes— [ although it’s ] usually not because she’s gotten so much better. I’ll put in my bass line and Phanie will put in the drums. Phanie and I play off each other.

EG: Do your parents understand your music?

JA: My mom and dad had me in their mid-40s so they are way older now. They only know so much; it’s not like they are going to read all the lyrics and understand the songs, but [ it’s ] enough for me that they’re pretty proud. As for the girls’ parents, I think for a long time they were kind of like, “Hurry up, girls. This is your hobby—go get a real job.” Then, like three years ago they [ said ] , “Wow, they’re really good,” and they support us; the mom is really into it. Both our parents appreciate what we are doing.

EG: How did the video for Road to Home [ which features trans club diva Amanda Lepore ] come about?

JA: Gregg Oliver did the video for it.

It was kinda nerve-wracking becauseyou’re the artist, it’s your first video and you don’t want to step over peoples’ toes. The video was an idea of Nina’s. She totally had it planned out and we knew that we wanted a transgender [ person ] , someone who’s very pretty. We talked to Amanda Lepore’s people and they said, “She’ll do it.”

She came in and was very professional; she had the lyrics memorized. Came in and did it.

Some people are like, “She’s had so much plastic surgery,” but no way man. We were like, “This woman is beautiful!” Amanda is soft-spoken and innocent and sweet and, now, she’s a fan of us.

EG: Would would you be doing if you weren’t involved in music?

JA: I really like film and directing. We do that a lot when we’re on tour. Although we should really be filming our shows, we like to play around with the camera when we’re on the road. We were recently in south Texas and there is this buffet called the I Love Buffet and I was like, “We have to do the commercial for it right now!” It was silly and goofy, but we like to do comedy skits like that.

EG: What do you think about the glamorization of alcohol and drugs in Hollywood?

JA: I think drugs have always been around in the music scene. A lot of these bands are good for what they do, but how many bands do you want that sound the same? It’s that whole MTV thing. Fashion is number one and music is number two.

Looks is number one and music is number two. When I was growing up I would hear music that I like and I just didn’t know what they looked like. It was just a bonus the they were good-looking. We did Warped Tour recently and [ on ] our last day I kind-of made a speech: “Go find your music. Don’t ever let it come to you.”

EG: What’s music you listen to that you’re embarrassed about?

JA: Well, I love Sade. [ EG and JA laugh. ]

My new guy that I’m in love with is Rufus Wainwright. I’m going to one of his concerts and I’m totally going wait for him and have him sign one of my CDs like a crazy fan!