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  WINDY CITY TIMES

MUSIC Girl in a Coma lives it up
by Amy Wooten
2008-04-09

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Latina rock band Girl in a Coma has been enjoying a whirlwind of success.

Although they've been on the road building a loyal fan base for years, the San Antonio, Texas, trio, who takes its name from the Smiths song 'Girlfriend in a Coma,' rose to success after the release of its debut album Both Before I'm Gone on Joan Jett's Blackheart Record label.

The band, which fuses its rock and punk influences over lead singer Nina Diaz' vocals to create a unique sound, consists of three tough, tattooed young women: sisters Nina and Phanie Diaz and out lesbian bassist Jenn Alva.

Windy City Times spoke with Alva in anticipation of the band's upcoming April 10 show at Ronny's Bar, 2101 N. California. See www.mpshows.com .

Windy City Times: Does it get tiring to be on the road so much? I know you spent years on the road building a fan base before you really started to get recognition.

Jenn Alva: Driving-wise, but I think we handle it pretty well. We like it.

WCT: When did you first pick up the bass?

JA: I started playing in 1992 because of [ drummer ] Phanie [ Diaz ] — I met her when I was 12. I got a bass and she started teaching me.

WCT: You two have been best friends for a really long time. What did you first initially bond over? Was it music?

JA: It was music. She had a Kurt Cobain magazine. I was the loudmouth in the class, always getting in trouble. I told her, 'Aw, I love Nirvana!' We just started talking because of music. Then, that summer, we were just calling each other, not making any sense on the phone and being silly and stuff.

WCT: When did [ lead singer ] Nina Diaz [ Phanie's younger sister ] come into the picture? When did you realize she had an amazing voice?

JA: That wasn't until probably late 2000. She was interested in playing guitar. We knew she was learning and Phanie taught her basic chords and stuff, and she took it from there. She had a birthday party and she played with like her brother and one of her friends from school, and it was just covers and stuff. But she was really shy. We couldn't even hear her sing, really. That day, on the porch, she said to us, 'Hey, I wrote a song. Do you want to hear it?' We heard it and our mouths dropped.

WCT: What is it like to have grown up openly lesbian in Texas?

JA: Texas is so big, so there's so many different—not necessarily stereotypes—but expectations of Texas. We're from San Antonio, which is great. Once you start passing Austin and keep going down, it's completely different. It's definitely north Texas versus south Texas. South Texas is more Mexican-American culture. My family is Mexican, so coming out to them was like, 'Well, we kind of don't agree with that, but we're going to love you anyway.' I think that's how it goes here, though I can't vouch for anybody but me. San Antonio is a great city. I love living here.

Read the whole interview at www.WindyCityMediaGroup.com .


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