The band’s energetic pop rock made their 2007 debut, Both Before I’m Gone, a hit with critics nationwide and it reached No. 21 on the iTunes charts. The first single off the album, “Clumsy Sky,” even scored them a 2007 Independent Music Award in the ‘Best Song – Punk’ category.
Since then the trio has toured the country and shared the stage with the likes of Frank Black, The Epoxies, and The Eyeliners and in June of this year they released their follow-up album, Trio B.C.
Nina Diaz took some time out from rockin’ to talk about the whirlwind experience that is Girl in a Coma.
Q: How did you gals get your start?
A: Phanie is my sister and Jenn has been around a long time, since I was a little girl. She’s like a sister too.
Q: What are the origins of the name?
A: It came from The Smiths’ song “Girlfriend in a Coma.” It’s an homage to a great influence on us as a band.
Q: How did you get signed to Joan Jett’s label, Blackheart Records?
A: It started [when] we did this pilot episode for a TV show called Jammin’ on cable TV and [for] the climax of the show we were to meet somebody [who’d] give good advice. Joan Jett was that climax and we went to New York’s Knitting Factory and she came to our practice spot and she sat in. Of course we were very nervous and afterwards she came to the show, she introduced us onstage and after we played we talked with her. Her and Kenny Laguna asked us to be on their label and it happened really fast, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Q: She also played on a few tracks?
A: Yes, on this album, Trio B.C., the newest album we released this year, she sings backup on “Joannie in the City.”
Q: How do you go about songwriting?
A: I do write the majority of the songs; it’s me and my guitar and I write the lyrics. Then we practice and jam out and they [Phanie and Jenn] write their parts. So it pretty much starts with me.
Q: Is there ever any sibling rivalry between how many songs you write or who gets to shape the sound of a song?
A: It depends. We are influenced by a lot of different bands and artists. We slowly learned over the years how to talk to each other and compromise and make the song sound the best it can sound, and get out everything we want to get out of it.
Q: I love “Pleasure and Pain;” is that song about S&M or something deeper?
A: Um, I was in this relationship a while back and I guess a lot of songs I wrote about were kind of like how I felt about it. And “Pleasure and Pain” is about how you like something so much even though you know it hurts you. You can’t get pleasure without a little bit of pain.
Q: You’ve written some songs in Spanish and there’s more of a Latino flavor in general – was this a conscious decision?
A: Yes, eventually we’d love to do an album with all the songs in Spanish. We can’t get away from it; it’s our core and part of us. The lucky thing was for a couple of shows back, we did this show at the Ford Dance Theatre in Los Angeles [and] we did songs in Spanish and that song, “Ven Cerca,” is by a group called The Spitfires. That’s my first attempt singing in Spanish, and I’m learning the language too. I’m embarrassed that I don’t know it by now. I’m trying and that song just stuck with us. Hopefully this path will take us to getting better at playing songs in Spanish. It’s always in the back of [our] mind.
Q: Wasn’t your grandfather also a singer? Did he record anything?
A: Yes, my grandfather was in a band called Trio B.C. when he was younger [hence the new album title]. He played drums, accordion, guitar and sang. He was a great musician. They never did record anything. Pretty kooky because we never knew what they sounded like. We only know when he was older he would pick up my guitar and play quick little songs for us.
Q: On a side note, you’re pretty well inked. Do you have a favorite tattoo?
A: Yes, I like my Frida Kahlo tattoo. One of her paintings is on my forearm. A friend of mine did it and it’s my favorite right now. But I did get a new tattoo of my chihuahua Cujo who passed away four years ago and I got it on my ankle and it says; “Rest in Peace Cujo.”
Q: Being the sole straight member of the band, both Phanie and Jenn are openly gay, is there ever any friction with some people assuming the entire band is gay?
A: No, and I don’t care, [but] sometimes it helps. If someone’s hitting on me and I don’t want them to I tell them; “Hey man, I’m gay.” And they give me a look; “Oh, yeah, yeah.” I really don’t care; it’s just a title that society gives if you’re a certain way, loving a certain person of the same sex.
Q: Do you lend your time to any particular causes, benefit concerts?
A: We played at The Rock and Roll Camp in Austin, TX. That was cool. It’s nice to see young girls playing music and getting influenced in the right direction.
Q: So what’s next for Girl in a Coma?
A: The rest of this year we’re going to focus on practicing and doing an acoustic thing here in town, locally. Next year we can tag along on a bigger tour and go from there and see what happens. We’re always writing new stuff so a new album may come next year or later.