A Q&A with Girl in a Coma

by Chris Stoppiello (English), published June 28th 2010

Girl in a Coma has had the pleasure to not only meet, but play and tour with many of the artists they grew up listening to. They have been on tour with Morrissey, recently performed with Cherie Currie at SXSW and Joan Jett personally signed them to her record label. They’ve accomplished all of this by doing their own thing. Drummer Phanie Diaz talked with me about how they are now reaching out to be mentors to the up-and-comers. Girl in a Coma is trying to bridge the gap between generations with a series of covers called Adventures in Coverland, which will be released in three volumes on vinyl (one each week) beginning April 13.

TMM: You talked a lot about the reason you did these covers: to provide a glimpse into your own sound.

PD: We had just released our new record Trio B.C. and a lot of people were curious as to what our influences are because a lot of the record is really mixed. There’s not just one genre on Trio B.C. One song will be more bluesy and then the next straight up punk. So we thought it would be cool if we released a record of bands that influenced us and helped to shape what we’re doing today.

Plus we thought it would be good for a lot of younger kids to hear these bands that they’re not familiar with; bands like Joy Division or even Selena. We just noticed that nowadays the younger generation is kind of quick. They tend to hear what they hear, see what they see on TV but not really know. For instance Lady Gaga is like huge or whatever but a lot of people don’t know that she got her name from a Queen song. It’s about showing these kids, ‘€˜these are your roots.’ (author’s note: GIAC took their name from Smiths song ‘€œGirlfriend in a Coma.’€)

TMM: Is it scary taking on a song like ‘€œWhile My Guitar Gently Weeps’€œ?

PD: Yeah it’s kind of scary. You don’t know if you’re going to piss off die-hard Beatles fans or even die-hard Joy Division fans. And the main part people notice in ‘€œWhile My Guitar Gently Weeps’€œ is Eric Clapton’s guitar playing. But instead of us doing that we kind of let [my sister] Nina’s voice do the guitar. So that could either be a hit or miss with Beatles fans but we just wanted to make it interesting.

TMM: And now you’re going on tour with Wedding Present and then another tour with Sia. Which one are you more excited for?

PD: I’m equally excited. I really like The Wedding Present. They’re kind of like if you enjoy The Smiths you’€˜d like this band. I really dig their Bizarro album. And we met Sia at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. She really dug us and watched our set that evening and then asked if we would be interested in touring with her. Just because she was a cool person we were like ‘€˜sure.’ But we had no idea what kind of music she was. Now we’ve heard her stuff and I think it’s going to be fun.

TMM: What would you say is the best part about being a woman in a rock band?

PD: It’s liberating in a weird way because there are not many women in Rock. I think it’s still good to be an all girl band and be touring and getting attention.  The three of us are Latinas so we’re kind of inspiring this new generation of Latina women who are coming to the shows. Just knowing that we’re doing that for somebody gives me a lot of pride.

TMM: Do you have aspirations of starting your own label and fostering young bands, similar to the way Joan has with you?

PD: I’ve definitely talked about that with [GIAC bassist] Jenn [Alva]. Eventually when we feel comfortable with the level of our own band, I would love to explore starting a label or even booking bands.  Jenn even talked about writing a survival book about being on the road: how to sneak in to motels and taking water when you play at a venue. Little things like that that bands should do to save cash on the starting out road.

TMM: Okay, last question: How is Girl in a Coma not like the Jonas
Brothers?

PD: [profuse laughter] No offense to Jonas brothers fans but I don’t think we suck.

TMM: I’m so glad you just went for the honest direct answer.

PD: That I did. Probably going to piss off the legions of Jonas fans.

TMM: Well congratulations on your new records and best of luck on the two tours.

PD: Thank you.

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