Girl in a Coma are a trio (comprising of sisters Nina and Phanie Diaz and their friend Jenn Alva) who were lucky enough to be hand picked by Joan Jett for her Blackheart Records label, before then being cherry picked by their hero Morrissey to tour with him.
“We hope that this record introduces people to some of our favorite music and opens a little door into who we are,” says GIAC drummer Phanie of Adventures in Coverland. “A lot of our writing style was influenced by the music we grew up on and the love we saw our grandfather had for music. If we forget who started it for us, then we forget the spirit of our music. If that’s lost, then everything is hollow, fake and manufactured.”
The San Antonio, Texas based girls are all of a Mexican-American background and this album sees them embracing the Spanish language with their first song writing efforts in Spanish and a selection of covers which reveal their formative influences ranging from Buffalo Springfield to The Smiths to Joy Division. Tone Deaf caught up with Phanie Diaz for a chat.
Obviously you’re all big fans of The Smiths – describe your reaction when you got the call or email saying Morrissey wanted you to support him?
We were in NYC getting ready to play a show that night. We got a call from our manager letting us know that Morrissey wanted us on for the rest of the tour. We were shocked and excited. We cancelled the show for that night and the remainder of our tour and opened for Morrissey that same night.
Your inclusion of ‘For What It’s Worth’ on the album has an element of being a political statement, but what led you to choose a Buffalo Springfield song to make it with?
We felt the song made sense to release now especially with what was happening in Arizona with SB 1070 bill passing. Being Latinas and coming from a Mexican background.. we found that bill to be very unfair in the treatment of immigrants and citizens. There are still a lot of bad things going on. We have joined up with Soundstrike and Zack De La Rocha to fight against it.
Yo Oigo being your first Spanish language song, did you think up the lyrics in Spanish or work from English?
They started in English first and we translated from there.
Although you are of Mexican-American background, it seems you grew up with very indie, Anglocentric music taste. Was there much of a scene catering to that in San Antonio?
Oh yes! San Antonio has everything to do with what we listen to. Our parents would raise us on Tejano, Cojunto music with a mix of oldies from Patsy Cline to The Beatles. Then we tended to find our own interest from punk to metal. You will find a lot of bands around here merging genres and breaking rules, creating a whole new sound. It’s very interesting out here.
You’ve covered Ritchie Valens’ ‘Come On Let’s Go’ – Ritchie Valens being one of the first Mexican-American roc k stars until his untimely death, do you feel a personal connection with him?
I think we do. He was one of the first Mexican Americans playing rock and roll. He was opening doors for so many. I feel as an all Latina band from San Antonio, we don’t really fit an image of what an indie rocker is suppose to look like. I hope we are opening some doors for girls that look like us, who think they cant play rock and roll. Hopefully we can change some rules of our own.
Has Joan Jett been personally involved in your development as artists?
If anything she has been more of a mentor. Giving us advice when we need it. Her best piece of advice is to enjoy the moment. She didn’t really get to do that with the Runaways because it happened fo fast. We try to take it all in .
With band members all having a wide range of influences from Jeff Buckley to Riot Grrrl, was there much arguing over which songs to cover?
Actually, not really. We all respect each others taste in music. We just had a huge list to choose from really. Which made it harder.
Have you ever been arrested?
Ha! Jenn and Nina have. You can google all about it.
Think of your bedroom when you were 14 – what posters did you have on the walls?
Nirvana, Debbie Harry, Joan Jett, GoGo’s, Morrissey. I still have the posters at home on the wall!
What was the first gig you ever went to?
For Jenn and Phanie – Babes in Toyland in 95. For Nina, Frank Black in 2001
Will we see you out in Australia for a tour this year?
That is definitely one of our goals. When we have a goal we usually see it through
Adventures In Coverland is out now on Blackheart Records – check out their cover of Joy Division’s ‘Transmission’.