Coming Out of the Coma

Lesbian members Phanie Diaz and Jenn Alva of the all-woman punk group Girl in a Coma discuss their newfound fame and their sophomore album, Trio B.C.



Jenn and Phanie, you both grew up listening to groundbreaking early-'90s girl bands like Babes in Toyland and Bikini Kill. Were you heavily involved in the Riot Grrrl scene during that time? Do you see yourselves as carrying on the legacy of that movement?Phanie: We were very involved -- supporting all the bands of the era, going to shows, and trying to make our own riot band. During that time music had such a strong presence. People were buying records and hanging out at the record shops. We try to always remind people about the sprit of rock 'n' roll. To not forget bands like Babes in Toyland and Bikini Kill, who started it for a lot of us, and even bands before them. Sometimes it feels like that spirit is lost, and it becomes so superficial. We just hope that people can see that it's not about trying to look like some hot-ass front person and making sure you have the right shoes and haircut, or having the sound that everyone is into. Be yourself and play what you like.

Nina, you grew up in a slightly younger generation, perhaps without that same set of experiences -- do you feel a connection to Riot Grrrl? Do you think feminism has a place in rock music today?Nina: I do feel a connection. I was still around it because of Phanie, and I feel like I was raised in it. As I've gotten older, I've realized how important that movement is and was -- to have a voice in a male-dominated industry. There's a lot of judgment and pressure to look a certain way or be a certain way because I'm a woman. I've learned that none of that shit matters. Artists like Bikini Kill and Babes in Toyland and Joan Jett show you none of that matters. If you have a talent or something to say, then do it. Don't let anyone get to you.

How does it feel to be one of the few high-profile girl rock bands out there right now? Has Joan Jett imparted any wisdom to you about navigating the music industry as a female rock act?Phanie: It's always nice to be appreciated for what you love to do. We take it day by day and make sure we stay busy. Joan is an amazing and very smart woman. She has taught us so much, and if anything, it's to never let any of the business aspects get to your head. Just love what you do, do it well, and always remember where you came from.

Nina, what was the songwriting process like for Trio B.C. ? You'd been honing and perfecting the songs on Both Before I'm Gone since your tween years, so what was it like to start over with a whole new body of work for the second album?Nina: I was lucky enough to have a good start by bringing back some songs that have been around just as long as the songs on BBIG. Even before and during BBIG, I was constantly writing anyway, so I had tons of pieces of songs. I learned how to use Garage Band, so that helped me in sculpting songs together in the van. I got home and the girls and I just finished them. Slowly, it all came together -- except this time we had a deadline.

Tags: Music