Girl in a Coma, signed to Joan Jett’s Blackheart record label and often compared to the Smiths, is about to pay tribute to a few of their musical inspirations, but probably not the ones you’re thinking of.
The trio will release a series of three EPs titled Adventures in Coverland, beginning April 13. Together, the three volumes will contain seven cover songs that represent some of the band’s earliest musical influences. They’ll be released one week apart and made available only digitally and on 7-inch vinyl. The vinyl set can be assembled into a board game of the same name designed by Jenn Alva to illustrate a musician’s life on tour.
“If you land on a square it can set you back because you’re hungover, but if you had played a good show it can send you forward,” says drummer Phanie Diaz.
Vol. 1 features Selena’s “Si Una Vez” and the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Vol. II, out April 20, features Joy Division’s “Transmission” and David Bowie’s “As The World Falls Down,” and Vol. III, due April 27, will contain covers of Ritchie Valens’s “Come On, Let’s Go,” Patsy Cline’s “Walking After Midnight,” and the Velvet Undergound’s “Femme Fatale.”
Girl in a Coma’s distinctive sound is the product of a diverse musical palette, and the band stays away from the more obvious choices, like Jeff Buckley or Morrissey to focus on early influences, many of them originally introduced by family members. Their moms adored Patsy Cline, and all three band members listened to her as young children. “Walking After Midnight” was a song they all instantly blurted out when brainstorming a tracklist for this project. They chose Selena’s hit single “Si Una Vez” for its punk-rock quality and pop accents.
“The band was so much more American pop. She was into the Pretenders,” said Alva.
“While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” was also an obvious choice. Vocalist and guitarist Nina Diaz sports a tattoo on her lower arm of a Telecaster guitar with the song title written in it.
“Transmission” was the last to be added. “We’re in the studio and it totally changed. There was a creepy vibe to it,” said Alva. They decided to really emphasize the vocals on this song to draw attention to the lyrics, which unless you’re a Joy Division fanatic, you’ve probably never noticed, said Phanie.
During South by Southwest the band got a chance to share the stage for “Cherry Bomb” with the Runaways frontwoman Cherie Currie. They found out about the possibility a week before, but weren’t sure that Currie was going to have time to play the show with all the promoting she was doing for The Runaways movie.
“It was so rrrroooarr! Yeah! We were pumped. We could have destroyed the dressing room,” laughed Alva.
Australian pop singer Sia met up with the band at the Michigan Womyn’s Festival. Girl in a Coma had a sound check at 8 a.m. that woke a lot of people up, including Sia. But instead of complaining, Sia asked them to join her on tour. Beginning April 11 they’ll travel with the Wedding Present and then meet up with Sia in Chicago on April 25.
But before they leave town again, Girl in a Coma will make one local appearance — at Jack’s Patio April 2. The last show they played there sold out and left people lined up at the door.
The band gets homesick on the road, but when they come home they appreciate San Antonio in a different way. “The people, the food, there is nothing like it,” said Alva. “There is always something new when we come back — new venue, new addition to the freeway.”
The next addition they want to see? Alva says San Antonio is missing a girl’s rock camp, a place where young women can learn to play instruments and develop an understanding of all aspects of the music industry. “We need something like that that encourages girls, as many as possible. Not all girls, just more girls,” said Alva. “We need more female rockers.” •