When you’re a trio from San Antonio that has found a friend and mentor in Joan Jett, opened for Morrissey, and written a song for the Robert Rodriguez’s action flick, Machete, it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the world will know your name. The time is now the world knows Jenn Alva, Phanie Diaz, and sister Nina, the ladies that make up Girl In A Coma. Since forming over 10 years ago, Girl In A Coma has created a solid fan base, earning respect from critics, and are poised to be a band with staying power. Girl In A Coma’s followers have seen them rise to the top of their game. Exits & All The Rest, the band’s forthcoming album, refelcts on the growth and change they experienced over the years, showcasing their depth and maturity. The mark San Antonio’s music scene has left on the trio is heard all over the album with its blend of punk, tejano, and rockabilly, all contributing to the unique sound that makes up Girl In A Coma.
nocheLatina: As a band in which all three of you are Latina, I’m sure you don’t want to be identified just as a ‘Latin’ rock band. But how much of your Latin identity is in your music?
Phanie Diaz: I think our roots are in the music. I remember my grandfather playing his records and singing so passionately to the songs. It was very nostalgic for him. My mother is the same way. We listened to music when we cleaned the house, when someone was born, getting married, and even passed. At first we didn't think our heritage was part of what we were doing. It wasn't until young Latinas were coming to our shows and telling us how much of an impact we had on them, how they can be themselves and make music successfully. Now it's important. We have always been true to ourselves and continue to do so.
nocheLatina: For you and Jenn being out lesbians, do you find yourselves being labeled as gay artists?
Phanie Diaz: We do get labeled and it is going to always happen because we are female, Latina, and two of us are gay. We do have a gay following which we are very proud of, but we do not make it a point to bring our sexuality out in the music. We are a rock band first and foremost.
nocheLatina: The new album sounds great. The vocals are very reminescent of PJ Harvey and the music itself has lots of influences. How would you describe your music?
Phanie Diaz: It's a blend of everything we love. Its San Antonio mixed with punk, oldies, and alternative. We can't really call it anything and I think that's a good thing. We have the freedom to play any genre and I think our fans will be fine with it because they already know we are everywhere with the music. You never know what the next song will sound like.
nocheLatina: I’m sure Joan Jett has been a major influence. Since you have one of most legendary names in rock music behind you, do you also take it upon yourself to help and groom new talent or at least offer advice when asked?
Phanie Diaz: Always. Any band can approach us or send an email to the band and we’ll gladly offer any advice. We make it a point to bring along bands we like. We always have an up and coming San Antonio band open for us here in our home town. Nina sometimes offers guitar and voice lessons and has even hosted an open mic.
nocheLatina: What have been some of the ups and downs you’ve experienced as a band?
Phanie Diaz: On Thanksgiving of this year, it will be 10 years to the day that we first played in the garage together. Nina was only 13 years old. March 13th of next year makes 10 years to the day of our first show that we played at a venue. We've had some crazy times, both good and bad, but like anything in life, we always learn from it.
nocheLatina: If there’s one band you could be a member of besides Girl In A Coma (active or inactive), which one would it be?
Phanie Diaz: Nina wants to be part of Mr.Bungle, I want to be a member of Babes In Toyland, and Jenn wants to be in The Pixies.
nocheLatina: : What do you feel have been the key reasons for the band’s success?
Phanie Diaz: I think just staying together. It's hard nowadays, especially wanting to make a living out of it. We love each other and we can only work with each other. We don't go through members and there is not one person driving the band. Girl In A Coma is the three of us and on stage that chemistry shows. We work very hard and we don't give up or give in.
nocheLatina: What are some of the band’s goals today?
Phanie Diaz: We just want to be able to put good records out, tour, and take care of ourselves. We got to tour with Morrissey and that in itself was a huge goal we accomplished. He likes us and how many people can say that they toured with a person who helped influenced them? The fact we are going on 10 years strong together is another accomplishment. We are happy and we continue to give all we can. Our goals have never changed. We want to be rock band on tour, influencing somone or even providing a soundtrack to someone's life. Just like when my grandfather was listening to his records in his garage remembering the good old days, maybe someone will do that with our records. As long as we are together we are happy and that is exactly what we are doing.