Girl In a Coma's Jenn Alva On Working "Twice as Hard" as Other Bands

Nina Diaz was only 12 years old when she joined up with her sister Phanie and Jenn Alva in the power trio band Girl in a Coma. Hailing from San Antonio, Texas, the trio recalls the height of '90s indie rock, with melodic melodies and crunchy guitars.

Up On The Sun spoke with Jenn Alva about the age difference within the group, what The Smiths really had to do with the name, and their progression over the years.

Up on the Sun: Now not all bands are able to deal with siblings playing alongside one another. Some can like AC/DC and y'all. From my understanding Phanie and you we're childhood friends, but Nina is much younger than both of you.

Jenn Alva: Yeah, Nina was 12 when she started. We were 20. So there's an eight-year difference. Nina has always been real mature for her age.

The name of the band, Girl In a Coma, comes from The Smiths' song, "Girlfriend In a Coma". What was the connection that drew you to switch the name of the band from its previous name, "Sylvia's Radio?"

In all honesty, we just really like [The Smiths] a lot.

You guys have gained a lot of respect with your music. What kind of challenges have you faced getting here?

Well, we started touring when Nina was about 16. We played local shows here and there when she was about 13 or so. She'd have to wait outside at certain venues before we played, since she was young and not of age to drink.

Aside from The Smiths, what kind of influences do you draw on?

We were just super big on all the '90s alternative rock that was coming out at the time. Nina was listening to a lot of chick rock which kind of inspired her with singing with certain vocal stylings. Superdrag was a cool group that should have more than just one hit, but we have all their albums. Of course, Nirvana and the riot grrrl movement, which actually inspired us to start a band. It was like, "They're doing it, so we can too."

When I looked who y'all were touring with, I was amazed. Playing with Cursive and Minus the Bear is a big deal. Going from this local San Antonio band of all women to where you are now has truly shown how hard you work.

Yeah, I mean it takes a lot of work. Nina was going to school and had dropped out and got her GED, when we started touring even more. I believe 2004 was our first tour. It's not your typical guy band when they're good and mess around a lot. We definitely have to work twice as hard being Latinas and girls in a band. It's a slow process, but luckily we love what we do.

We take these tours with other bands and some people in the crowd may actually like us and then catch on, but if they don't we don't care. Just as long as we are playing. We get to enjoy Minus the Bear and Cursive as well so it's always win-win honestly.

Girl In a Coma is scheduled to perform Thursday, November 8, with Cursive and Minus the Bear at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe.

Follow us on Twitter and friend us on Facebook

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Taylor Moon
Contact: Taylor Moon