Friday, July 20, 2012

Girl in a Coma's Phanie Diaz talks NPR and influences

Phanie Diaz talks about how she gets inspired.

Posted By on Fri, Jul 20, 2012 at 8:51 AM

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Girl in a Coma's release on Blackheart Records, Exits & All the Rest, was named as one of NPR's 50 best records of 2011. It's an astonishing bit of rock and roll from a Los Angeles group that blends rock, punk and girl-group harmonies to create something that's all their own yet immediately familiar. The trio pops through our fair city on a regular basis, and this summer's jaunt sees them at the Riot Room Monday, July 30, with the Black Box Revelation and Wick & the Tricks. We recently spoke with drummer Phanie Diaz via e-mail.

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The Pitch: Your cover album, Adventures in Coverland, seems to be the one that really raised your profile. How'd you come to record those songs?

Phanie Diaz: It actually started off as something to do for fun and turned into a full-on album. It was a lot of fun to do and also helped us as artists in terms of writing. It was fun to morph these songs into our own.

It seems that every article I read about the band mentions your genders or heritage before talking about the music. How would you describe Girl in a Coma?

I think that happens because we are an all-girl band. I don't know why there is always a need to put female musicians in a box. We are a rock-and-roll band. Influenced by everything around us.

As a trio, you could easily fall into a sonic trap, yet you three manage to avoid being pigeonholed. Specifically, it's not like you have any songs that can be said to be garage, punk, indie, country or whatever — there are elements of everything in all your music. What choices do you make in songwriting that allows the band to blend styles so effectively?

We just don't put pressure on ourselves when writing. We don't think "OK, how can we make another GIAC-type song." We listen to everything and we don't limit ourselves.

Your most recent album, Exits & All the Rest, has gotten a lot of love from NPR. Has this affected the sorts of people who show up to your shows?

It definitely helped expand our audience.

Girl in a Coma is a band that manages to get opening slots that are not only high-profile but also for highly regarded artists. You three aren't opening for the flavor of the week, in other words. Is it your intention or is it happenstance?

Really happenstance. Morrissey, Tegan and Sara, [and] Amanda Palmer are artists who enjoy our music. We still stay in touch with them, and it's really an honor.

Take a listen the trio's recent cover of the Martha and the Vandellas classic, "Heatwave," below.

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