Girl in a Coma is a rock band from San Antonio, Texas – land of puffy tacos, Lone Star Beer, and the place where Ozzy pissed on the Alamo.
All through High School best friends Jenn Alva and Phanie Diaz spent their Friday nights not at the football games, but in Phanie’s bedroom listening to records, singing along to punk songs, and talking of the band they would someday form.
Friends since an eighth grade art class where they discovered a mutual love of Nirvana, the Smiths, and skipping out of school, the girls blazed through a couple of band lineups and various sounds, but could never find the right combination.
“For some strange reason,” Jenn observed, “we didn’t get along with anyone.”
Meanwhile, perched quietly all along in the bedroom’s top bunk bed, Phanie’s little sister Nina, eight years their junior, listened, learned, and at age 12 finally got the courage to ask the older girls to listen to a song she just wrote.
She borrowed Phanie’s guitar (the girls had no idea Nina could even play), stood up straight, looked them in the eye, and promptly blew Jenn and Phanie away with what is recognized now as Nina’s powerful, expressive voice and amazing songwriting ability – mature beyond its years, unforgettable to anyone who hears her sing.
Girl in a Coma was formed that night, with Nina singing and playing guitar, Jenn on bass and Phanie on drums.
For the next five years the three girls practiced, wrote songs, and slowly built up a solid and loyal fan base though constant touring.
While Nina is often referred to as "the female version of Morrissey," the band as a whole has been compared to The Smiths, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and the Pixies. Drawing from these influences (the band's name, Girl in a Coma, comes from the classic Smiths song "Girlfriend in a Coma"), the Girls have managed to create a sound and style that not only pays homage to their heroes, but is uniquely their own.
Nina’s voice is at turns mesmerizing, hypnotic, playful, thunderous, and soft, and has been compared to artists as diverse as Bjork, Patsy Cline, and Morrissey himself.
Crisscrossing the South, Midwest and the West Coast in an old van during the Summer of 2004, the Girls not only won over a bevy of new fans but also turned the heads of tour managers and indie label reps. One impressed manager passed on a homemade demo to Boz Boorer, guitarist extraordinaire and musical director for Morrissey. He was immediately impressed with the band’s unique sound. The Girls soon found themselves on a plane to London to record their first demo under Boz’s guidance. Nina was 16 years old.
In addition to playing hundreds of their own headlining shows, Girl in a Coma has played on Vans Warped Tour and has opened for The Pogues, Frank Black and the Catholics, theSTART, The Epoxies, The Eyeliners, Boz Boorer and The Bozmen, The Groovie Ghoulies, The Cruxshadows, Brassy and The Smoking Popes.
Then in 2006, Girl in a Coma caught the eye of two Los Angeles-based producers visiting San Antonio, who just happened to be looking for the perfect band for the pilot episode of a national documentary TV series on up and coming Latino bands. With cameras in hand, they filmed the girls for three weeks, flew them to New York for a special Knitting Factory show, and surprised the band with an introduction to one of the Girls’ idols, Joan Jett.
On camera, and much to the surprise of everyone involved, Joan and her long-time producing partner Kenny Laguna, were blown away, and so impressed with the band that they asked the Girls to join Blackheart Records on the spot.
The Girls teamed up in Austin with producers Erick Sanger and Gabe Gonzales, both formerly of Sparta, and quickly set down the songs for their debut album, “Both Before I’m Gone.” The album showcases their best songs written over their long history of tour dates, club gigs, and practice.
With six years of writing and performing behind them, Girl in a Coma had an amazing amount of material to pull from and had trouble narrowing the list of songs to thirteen tracks. Songwriter Nina says, “The title for the album comes from something James Dean once said, ‘Being an actor is hard. Being a man is even harder. I hope to be both before I’m done.’ I like to say, ‘Being a musician is hard. Being a human is even harder. I hope to be both before I’m gone.’”
The album ranges from faster tracks like “Say” and “Clumsy Sky” to “Road to Home,” a hauntingly beautiful ballad that pays tribute to those many years of gigging on the road.
“These songs are a mixture of old and new, to us anyways,” Phanie says, “some songs such as ‘Consider’ have been around for 6 years, and others are brand new. We like to say this album was six years in the making . . . but we recorded it in only a week.”
Legendary producer Kenny Laguna supervised the final mix in New York. “Overall we are really proud of this album... a lot of tears, anxiety, fear, happiness, loss and gain went into this record,” says Jenn.
The general public got a taste of the CD’s songs at the 2007 SXSW Music Festival where a receptive national press began a critical buzz for the upcoming release. “Both Before I’m Gone,” is now available in stores and online.
Currently, the band is touring the country in support of the new CD.