(This is an interview I conducted for Starpulse.com)
Starpulse recently caught up with the up-and-coming band Girl in a Coma as they opened for Morrissey in Europe. Hailing from San Antonio, GIAC is Nina Diaz on vocals and guitar, sister Phanie Diaz on drums, and Jenn Alva on bass guitar. These girls in a coma took over as the opening act for the remainder of Morrissey’s U.S. tour last fall and the entire European leg after that. This coveted gig is only a dream for most bands.
The Girls describe their sound as “melodic punk.” That just about nails it. With the opening track “Clumsy Sky” – a song that starts off hushed, then builds to a punk rock crescendo – they establish a sound that’s both fresh and accomplished. Very few debuts come out of the gates with as much fervor and excitement as this one. While the guitar, bass, and drums are expertly handled, it’s Nina’s voice that will leave you craving more. She sounds much more seasoned and mature than her nineteen years should allow.
The Smiths influence is unmistakable. Nina’s rich, lilting voice makes her sound like a Morrissey progeny. Lovers of great music should check this one out.
Starpulse: Explain to the readers the origin of the band’s name. What were your other choices?
GIAC: Girl in a Coma comes from the song “Girlfriend In A Coma” by the Smiths. At the time we were coming up with band names we were Moz (Morrissey was lead singer of the Smiths) fans and wanted to pay homage to him in some way. We still are Moz fans but didn’t realize how many bands are out there with Moz/Smiths names! We also were going to be “Ordinary Girls” and at one point did change it to “Sylvia’s Radio.” When we became Sylvia, we got a lot of mail from angry fans not wanting the name change. So here we remain.
Give us a brief history of Girl in a Coma.
We started out in 2001 when Nina was 13. Jenn and I had been in bands through most of our teenage years and went through many lineup changes. I had shown Nina a couple chords on the guitar and she kept at it. One day, she knew we were looking for new members and she played us a song she had written. We were completely blown away and knew then and there we wanted to make music with her. I was going to play guitar. Still could not find a drummer so I took up the drums.
Nina’s voice has been compared to several vocalists. Which is the most surprising? Has Chrissie Hynde ever been mentioned?
Chrissie Hynde has been mentioned, Morrissey, Dolores O’Riordan, Bjork to even Roy Orbison. To Nina, just being compared to any of these artists is a definite honor than it is surprising.
Explain to the readers the origin of the title of your new release Both Before I’m Gone.
Nina is a huge James Dean fan. He has a quote in which he says, “Being a good actor isn’t easy. Being a man is even harder. I want to be both before I’m done.” It’s not exactly word for word but the quote inspired “Both Before I’m Gone.”
Do all three members collaborate on songs?
We definitely do. Nina writes all lyrics and her guitar melodies. We write around that or help a part become bigger etc. On the album I was able to write the music for “The Photographer.” It’s basically what we all agree on music wise.
How are you enjoying touring Europe with Morrissey? What’s the good, the bad, and the ugly?
It’s definitely a dream come true. It’s been amazing and the fans have overall been very accepting of us. Morrissey fans are very protective and particular with who is supporting him so we were nervous about the crowd. But it’s been great. Of course, you get your heckler here and there but we take it with more humor instead of offense.
Who are some of your musical influences?
It’s such a mix tape. It ranges from Patsy Cline, Elvis to the Pixies and Babes in Toyland.
If you had to put a label on your music, how could you describe it?
The hard question…we never really can. Melodic Punk if there is such a thing… it’s such a blend…we have rockabilly sounding songs to just straight rock. It’s good time music.
When do you plan on hitting the studio again? Will you still be on Joan Jett’s Blackheart label?
Not for another year or so. We plan on touring a little more this year for the album and start getting our songs prepped for the new album towards the end of this year. As for Blackheart, we will just have to see. It’s a great label.
Do you have any opinions on the presidential campaign currently under way in the U.S.?
Always the lesser of the evil.
What other information would you like readers to know about you?
We are all vegetarians and we love San Antonio and Lone Star Beer.