Thursday, July 1, 2010

TVD's Alternative Ulcer | Q & A with Girl in a Coma

Girl in a Coma has been featured here on TVD before, but for those of you unfamiliar with them, they are three amazing women from San Antonio. Nina, the lead singer and guitarist, Jenn, Nina’s sister and bassist for the group, and drummer Phanie, who isn’t biologically related to her bandmates but has known them so long and is so close with them she practically is.

GIAC came through DC opening for Sia at the 9:30 Club not too long ago and they sat down with TVD to discuss touring, vinyl records and their new album Adventures in Coverland.

Kris: So this is your third time to DC?
Jenn: It could be our fifth…
Kris: Haha…wow…how long would you say you’ve been touring for?
Jenn: Since 2004.
Kris: So you’ve toured with Tegan and Sara, Morrissey, the Pogues, Social D…would you say you feel like your veterans now?
Jenn: No, we’ve got a lot more work to do. We’re…right now...we’re a good opening act.
Nina: We’re good bridesmaids. [laughs all around]
Kris: Have you had any surprises or crazy things on this tour or any in the past?
Jenn: Just our tour manager…he’s our first totally straight tour manager so we’re learning lots from him. [whole group laughs]
Kris: When I heard you guys were coming to town with Sia, I was kind of surprised. Your sound is like…day and night. How did that come about?
Jenn: It was actually kind of cool. We played at the Michigan Women’s Festival and we had soundcheck at like 8:30 in the morning. We showed up early and are soundchecking and their tent is inside the grounds of the festival. Sia and her friend were in a tent and they came out and were like “You woke us up!” and we said “SORRY!” and she said “No. I loooved it.” It was really cool. We played later that night and as soon as we were done she was like “We gotta tour together!”
Kris: It’s funny it happened that way because I heard that’s kind of what happened with Morrissey.
Jenn: Yeah he came to see us play and…we just happened to be in the right place at the right time.. We know Boz his guitarist and so he called us up and we just happened to be there.
Kris: I mean I’m sure it was partly the right place and the right time but you guys have an amazing sound that stands on its own. To have an all female group that sounds like you all do…maybe it’s a little right place right time but your talent speaks for itself. So I heard you guys did South By Southwest recently. And I know you’re from San Antonio…although Austin isn’t San Antonio…did you guys feel like the whole home-town vibe?
Nina: The crowds there were just amazing. The fans are so dedicated and some fans from San Antonio go to Austin and vice versa.
Phanie: Texans in general are just so supportive of us. People travel around wherever we go in Texas.
Jenn: The best show for us is San Antonio. It’s like no other show anywhere. It’s weird…there’s an energy there. It’s a sense of pride I think, for what we’re doing.
Kris: So do you have a favorite place to play at home?
Nina: 213…that was the first place we ever played but that closed down…
Jenn: I mean we don’t really have a favorite place because so many places come and go…
Phanie: We just make sure we can accommodate people where we play. Make sure it’s all ages and there’s room.
Kris: And I’m sure your fans appreciate the thought you put into your shows too. Let’s talk a little about females in the music industry. You guys are on Joan Jett’s Blackheart label which is awesome because it’s so women oriented. But a lot of the music industry will mold women into what they think consumers will buy. Have you ever had to deal with that, with people telling you to be more like one thing or another?
Nina: Our label is great because they give us total creative freedom. As far as appearance and things, I mean there’s been things said but we’re not going to listen to it. We’re not going to go out there in heels…unless we’re feeling funky. We’re not out there to promote a face, we’re out there to promote our music.
Jenn: Blackheart pretty much has let us do what we want to. They’re really good with us.
Nina: They totally respect us and when we say “we don’t want to do that. We’re not going to compromise” they totally understand.
Jenn: It’s been like a really good family. They are perfect for us right now. They’re good to us. I mean when we first got signed we were like “woah Joan Jett.” She’s one of our heroes but now it’s just…
Phanie: we’re like family.
Kris: So do you guys still get a little star struck? I’m mean Joan Jett, Frank Black, the Pogues, Cyndi Lauper…
Jenn: Morrissey was a big one. Dave Navarro. Cyndi Lauper…I mean once you meet these people you realize that they’re people. We respect and honor what they do but we don’t change the way we are for anyone or anything like that.
Kris: So is this tour as relaxed as previous tours?
Jenn: Sia has been a sweetheart.
Nina: But we got trained from the Morrissey tour to kind of keep to ourselves in a way and to totally respect the main act. I mean if we get invited to hang out that’s totally fine.
Kris: You’ve played with all of these amazing groups. And I think you hold your own extremely well…so is there anyone in the future you want to tour with?
Jenn: Why don’t you just ask our publicist…?
Nina: Because I don’t want it to happen like that. I want him to find me.
Kris: Maybe you should do a sound check outside his bedroom window.
Nina: [laughing]: I would totally do it, with a little battery powered amp too!
Jenn: The Breeders would be awesome…they were doing some shows…
Phanie: The Pixies
Jenn: I mean all these bands that are still playing today that we’re influenced by- that would be amazing. Smashing Pumpkins, though not all original. Hole, though they’re not all the original members…
Nina: Silverchair
Jenn: Oh yeah! Even though we’re not in the same style of music. Just one show would be awesome because bands…you never know when they’re going to just stop touring, so it would be nice…
Kris: Are there any lesser-known bands, bands from your home town, that you’d like to bring on tour?
Jenn: Of course!
Nina: Hot Pistol
Phanie: Pinata Protest
Jenn: Blue Means Go…these bands from our hometown, they’re so fantastic. And we know how hard it is to tour, especially with gas being so expensive. Phanie has always offered a hand in booking because she’s really good at it.
Kris: Let’s talk a little about your new album Adventures in Coverland. I always love it when bands do a cover especially when it’s done right like you guys have. I mean your cover of Transmission… it just blows me away every time I hear it and is definitely my favorite of the album. Do you guys have a favorite on this new record?
Nina: I like the David Bowie cover. [“As the World Falls Down” which they played later that night]
Jenn/Phanie: Oh yeah.
Jenn: But Transmission…that one is so…
Nina: I mean it’s great because we pulled it off.
Jenn: For me I always wanted us to do this creepy kind of song and there it is- it just happened with Greg Collins and Nina…
Phanie: It just wrote itself
Kris: It just sounds so natural
Jenn: It is!
Kris: I know you just did an entire EP of covers so I’m curious as to whether you’d do more in the future.
Nina: Definitely…Eventually I’d like to cover some Jeff Buckley and Tom Waits…Especially Tom because he has such a weird raspy voice…
Jenn: Elvis and Rufus Wainwright for sure because one of my favorite songs for years was “Don’t” by Elvis and she [Nina] played it for us acoustically and it like “oh my gosh…”
Phanie: Nirvana!
Nina: Yeah? I just always feel so weird about Nirvana…in the beginning, when I was learning to play songs I just could never touch their music…I don’t know
Kris: Well, if Dave Grohl can mess things up the way he has I’m sure you guys will be fine…So are there any songs of yours that you would love to hear someone cover in the future?
Nina: El Morte…to hear a guy do it would be amazing
Jenn: Trio…oh but El Morte would be great, we did an acoustic show and we opened up for David Garza and the idea was to have her [Nina] sing and then switch off a line…
Nina: The idea was to have it kind of like a play…
Jenn: But he said “I don’t think I can sing it right!”
Nina: So he just sang background… we’d love to hear a guy sing it…

Kris: I want to switch gears a little and talk about records. Vinyl is something so special for TVD’s readers…are you guys into records? Do you have a favorite one?
[Whole group]: Yah!
Nina: I have a record player tattoo [she shows me her arm with a gorgeous black and white piece of an old school record player]…my mom actually gave me my first record- Billie Holiday.
Jenn: Yeah our mom’s funny. We live together and I’ll come home and say “look at this Elvis record I got!” and she’s says “no! I’m going to steal that!”…As for my record collection it’s, you know this big [she stretches out her arms] of Elvis Records
Nina: She has doubles of things....
Jenn: And of course the bands we go on tour with, we love to get their vinyl…Phanie and I were in this big competition for a while with 80s records…and color vinyl is always cool, Phanie has some Morrissey and Smiths I’m really jealous of…and Nina just got a Beatles record on this tour and she got Mousercize! [A Disney-produced work-out record]
Nina: Yeah there’s even pictures in there so that I know what I’m doing, so that I don’t hurt myself [everyone laughs].
Jenn: Everything today is so ADD, and all you have to do to listen to something is download it. But with vinyl you have no fucking choice but to relax- set it up, put it on- you don’t wanna keep switching you just want to enjoy it. And that’s what’s great about records. I got a cool stereo console, I think they have the best record sounds because it has a thick bass-yness to it. And I found it on Craigslist and I said “hey Phanie, hang out with me. We’ll get some beers and listen to records.” But she had to go so I had to do it by myself…
Nina: But that’s still so nice to do…
Jenn: Yeah it really is a great time. We adore records.
Nina: I love hearing Tom Waits on vinyl because it sounds just so old and classic.
Kris: We had a big debate in my house the other night about the difference between digital and analog and how Trent Reznor or someone hates this person because they only record in analog but I think that even when something is digitally recorded if it’s on vinyl it still sounds amazing…
Jenn: Oh definitely. You’re able to pick out the instruments in a whole new way. Though Joan said it when we were recording…what did she said?
Phanie: She said it sounded nerdy…
Jenn: Yeah like “We’re making records. That doesn’t sound cool at all. But when you say “albums” that sounds cooler.”
Kris: I, and I think a lot of people, appreciate that you sell vinyl online and at your shows.
Jenn: It’s definitely been beneficial for us because Sia isn’t selling any music on this tour and we have all of our CDs and vinyls and they’ve been selling a lot more.
Nina: Yeah the next tour we do we’re just going to steal all of their stuff and they’ll wonder why they’re not selling but we are [everyone laughs].
Jenn: As a matter of fact we have a new shirt on this tour that I drew that’s like the evolution of vinyl…
[I have the shirt and can personally vouch for the fact that it’s great!]
Kris: So you guys design your own shirts?
Jenn: Yeah and then our manager helps us out.
Kris: So speaking of next tour…what’s next?
Nina: All of June we’ll be working on our album- just ironing it out. And a lot of little projects. Then we’re going to Poland to headline their kind of version of Woodstock.
Kris: Well I think that’s it guys. Thanks for speaking with us and have a great show!

GIAC is on tour right now. Head to their website for tour dates. If you’re in the DC Metro area they will be at Jammin Java on July 20.

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