When I last saw Girl in a Coma perform live, they busted out a fierce cover of Patsy Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight.” Singer Nina Diaz nailed Cline’s sweetness on the intro, but the band pulled a U-turn with a rock breakdown and Diaz’ wide-eyed intensity to finish out what Diaz noted was essentially a stalker song. Turns out that was just one of seven covers (eight on the extended CD) on the aptly titled Adventures in Coverland that dropped on Tuesday. Joy Division (“Transmission”), David Bowie (“As the World Falls Down”), Velvet Underground (“Femme Fatale”), and more all get GIAC’s lean, mean, rockabilly-tinged treatment. While they may not follow in the original’s footsteps, there’s not a stumble on the album either. Nina Diaz tells the Current how the trio ended up in Adventures in Coverland.
How did the idea of a covers album come about?
It was something to put out to bring back the music we were influenced by when we made `2009’s` Trio B.C., to show you a taste of styles that we like, because Trio B.C. itself is kind of an eclectic album. I think that Adventures in Coverland is like that as well. It’s kind of a pair of CDs that explain each other.
What was behind choosing each of the songs?
In the beginning, when we got the idea to do this there was a list of bands that we wanted to do, ranging from Elvis to Radiohead to Rufus Wainwright. These bands in particular we each love and these songs in particular we thought we could make our own and hopefully not butcher them and share the best aspects of them.
How did you narrow it down to the eight covers on the album?
Those happened to be the ones that worked. I would listen to them and try to fix them to our own style and show them to the girls `drummer Phanie Diaz and bassist Jenn Alva`. Sometimes the girls wouldn’t even listen to the original version and they would just write their own bass line or drum line. These songs just happened to click with our style.
Were there any songs you wanted to cover but thought, “There’s no way we could do that”?
Actually, I really wanted to do a Jeff Buckley song, but as I was learning different pieces of different songs … there was something I couldn’t grab about the songs I was doing of his. I think in the future it may be time to do a Jeff Buckley song, but when I was trying to do it for this album, it was a little difficult.
As a songwriter, were there any lyrics on these cover songs you felt really drawn to?
All the lyrics for all the songs are really amazing in their own way, especially doing the David Bowie song. I’ve always wanted to do “As the World Falls Down.” I always feel really good singing it. `For` “Transmission” by Joy Division, the singing style and focusing on the words instead of the bass line and the guitar was a really great experience for me in particular. Just really being able to sound out each word and flow with it. I’d say “Transmission” was the best song for me, vocal- and lyrics-wise.
Are any of these songs more fun to play live than others?
“Si Una Vez” by Selena is a lot of fun to play because a lot of people don’t expect that. First of all, to cover a Selena song and then to put it in a rock way is a great surprise to our fans.
Were you a Selena fan beforehand?
Yeah, definitely. My mom used to play it, we had the tapes, we did the little dances and stuff when I was a little girl. I used to dress up like Selena. We’re all three fans.
How long did Adventures in Coverland take you from start to finish?
Just like a month, we didn’t have that much time to do it. We worked with Greg Collins again, who worked with us on Trio B.C. so that was a good experience. He actually helped bring out certain songs. On the CD being released on October 19, there’s three extra songs, and there’s a Buffalo Springfield song called “For What It’s Worth.” When we originally came in with that song, it was really rock, and he kind of fixed the chords so that it was more of your familiar chords that you would hear from that song. So he brought out the best part of that song. ... Since I’m on the subject, there’s also an acoustic version of “B.B.,” a Trio BC song, and “Yo Oigo,” which was on the Machete film by Robert Rodriguez.
How did you meet Robert Rodriguez?
We met him at SXSW this year. He came out because he was looking for music for Machete, so he came out to a day show that we were doing. We instantly clicked with him, all three of us, because he’s also from San Antonio. It was like hanging out with one of our friends back in San Antonio. He took some pictures at that show and then he came along to all the rest of our SXSW shows. We talked more about the project and in the midst of him hanging out he actually made a video of our performances of “As the World Falls Down” which we didn’t think he was doing. He was like ‘hey, I made a video, do you want to use it?’ That was pretty cool. We instantly became friends and we’re still friends.
Did you know “Yo Oigo” was going to be in that fight scene?
No! I knew he wanted something for Michelle Rodriguez’s character, to explain her. He sent me a picture of her and I had this riff I had written a long time ago that I had never done anything with so I put it with that. It just kind of flowed and writing my first English/Spanish song was a good experience. When he told us it was going to be in the fight scene we were like ‘awesome!’ He did a really good job extending it and putting symphony in the background. It’s really dramatic. I think it works perfectly for what he was going for.
Do you think that GIAC would ever write more music for movies?
As far as us as a group, I’m sure we would love more opportunities to write songs like that for movies. In particular, I’d love to score movies eventually.
Now that this album is finished, are there still cover songs you’re dying to record?
Oh yeah, we were actually talking about doing a Superdrag song. We’ve always been into them. They’re a band that not many people pay attention to anymore, but they were a really great band of their time. They continue to inspire. And of course, Jeff Buckley. Jenn’s always wanted to do an Elvis song and Phanie’s always wanted to do a Nirvana song.
Do you have any plans to record original songs any time soon?
Yeah. … We’re pretty much taking the rest of the year off to work on the third album and hopefully we’ll start recording it in February. So hopefully next year we’ll have our third album out for everyone.
Girl in a Coma
With Piñata Protest, Las Hijas de la Chingada
Sat, Oct 23
17200 Hwy 16 N, Helotes