Girl in a Coma, San Antonio’s sweethearts and all-girl punk rock band, sat down with Ticket Alternative’s Sarah Spencer before their July 14, 2010 show at Maxine’s Pub in Hot Springs, Ark. for a candid look into life on the road, their common interests, as well as some of the life history that inspires them.
It’s nice to meet you guys. Welcome to Hot Springs.
Jenn: Thank you. It is hot.
It is hot! You’ll have to check out that hot water fountain across the street [the natural hot water springs].
Jenn: I know. It’s so cute, though.
Thank you. I love it here. Is it your first time in Arkansas? or Hot Springs?
Phanie Diaz: Yes
Jenn: First time in Hot Springs.
Nina Diaz: We played in Little Rock before.
What’s the origin of the name Girl in a Coma? Is there a story behind that?
Phanie: Yeah, it comes from the three of us all being The Smiths fans and it comes from their song “Girlfriend in a Coma.”
Nina: When we were all in medical school, a friend of ours was in a coma [a bee starts to fly around].
Phanie: That bee knows you’re lying.
Nina: [Laughs] No, it’s because I’m sweet. [To Jenn] You don’t want to show your scared. It won’t bother you. It won’t bother you. I’m a bee. [as she starts to flutter her hands in order to distract or shoo away the bee] It won’t bother you. It’s cool. My name is Charlie. I’m a bee.
So has your band always had the name Girl in a Coma or did you start off with another name?
Nina: Girls in a Coma … It was a really big leap.
And you guys have known each other for a long time?
Nina: I’ve known her [pointing to Phanie] for 22 years.
That’s quite a while.
Jenn: They’re sisters. [Laughs]
[Laughs] Yeah, okay. I figured that.
Jenn: [Pointing to Phanie] And then we’ve known each other since ’92. Well, all three of us really.
Cool. So who writes your songs?
Nina: It starts off with me. I always want to say something sarcastic here [mischievous grin]. I write the main song, the lyrics. I show the girls and we jam it out until it becomes a song we’re happy about.
So what inspires your lyrics?
Nina: Um, well, in the beginning it was, books I would read and for a moment it was things I was trying not to do. I’d write about it. And then, friends, and now it’s kinda just things that come out in the back of my mind. I notice that I say a lot of the same words.
How has your music evolved since you guys first started playing together?
Phanie: We’ve become better musicians, for sure. When we started, I mean, we were just kinda learning when we were on stage. We’ve toured with so many bands we learn off of them. Yeah, so better music. We’re better musicians. Learning how to survive on the road.
That’s great. What’s the best and worst things about playing in clubs?
Nina: Best thing is when they feed you.
Okay, free food. I love that.
Nina: Yeah, free food. And they’re nice.
Phanie: People are closer. Energy is more “in your face”
Nina: Um, the worst thing is if it’s bad sound.
Phanie: Yeah, probably sound.
Nina: That’s about it. Usually any club we play is pretty cool.
The sound quality here has really improved in the last year and they’ve done a lot of….
Phanie: Yeah, it seems cool. And there was a great menu.
Nina: They were telling us about putting the extra stuff in.
Jenn: Yeah, we’d like to come back.
What type of music did you guys grow up on or listen to? Something that you really liked?
Phanie: I grew up listening to a lot of Riot Grrrl bands, Nirvana, and Babes in Toyland. Jenn’s pretty much the same.
Jenn: Yeah, I mean, we’ve been best friends for years so that’s how we bonded really was over music. Nothing else.
Phanie: We have nothing else in common. Just the music. [Laughs]
So being on Joan Jett’s label BlackHeart Records, you must know her on a fairly personal level. Is she as cool as she seems?
Jenn: She’s very cool.
Nina: She’s very down-to-earth.
You guys probably grew up as one of her fans, too, so it’s kinda cool working with her now.
What are your influences either musically or personally?
Nina: We all discovered that we don’t mention Superdrag enough.
Jenn: That’s true.
Nina: That’s one of our…we’ve all listened to them at one point I think. And I’ve always listened to what they listened to being the younger sister. Superdrag was the main favorite band in rotation.
Jenn: And still is, definitely.
Nina: Yeah, definitely.
Jenn: It was just one of those artist that we never skip on, like, you know, a shuffle or something. It’s just, any one album is just amazing, like, every single song is awesome.
Nina: [Pointing to Jenn] She loves Elvis. She’s a huge Elvis fan.
Jenn: [Points to her Elvis inspired tattoo on her arm]
Nina: The funniest thing was when she was Elvis for Halloween and there was another Elvis guy walking outside the window and they were like two barking dogs. They were going like that [hand-motioning in a very Elvis fashion]. I think Jenn won [Laughs)
I almost went to Elvisfest this year.
Jenn and Nina: There’s an Elvisfest?
Yeah. It’s in his birthplace of Tupelo, Mississippi.
Jenn: I should make them … well, they like Elvis, too.
Nina: I’m more of a Beatles fan.
Nina: I like that the Beatles wrote their own music.
Jenn: I like, that Elvis… [Laughs]
Nina: Snap! [Laughs]
Well, is there anything that you’d like to add?
Nina: I just want to dance to this! [As a car drives by and stops near us while blasting Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok,” she starts chair dancing]
Sarah: Get up and dance! [laughter]
Nina: [Playfully, but loudly, to the car blasting the radio] We’re doin’ an interview! [Laughs]
Jenn: And more all girl bands. That would be awesome.
Yes. And your Adventures in Coverland, that’s out now. And you’ve got some vinyl for sale tonight.
Jenn: That’s right. Yes, we sell vinyl.
Girl In A Coma will return to Arkansas for a show at Juanita’s on September 1.