Last week I caught Girl in a Coma at The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, an all-girl trio from Texas who are signed to Joan Jettâs Blackheart Records. I went up to the band at the bar after their set and asked them for an interview. It was a completely spontaneous thing, totally unprepared, but turned out to be a nice little chat about what Girl in a Coma are all about. The one thing that struck me again with the band, as with the performance, was the personality of them all. Girl in a Coma were a lot of fun, it wasÂ – it was also GiaCâs first ever interview in Canada, so a bit of an exclusive to boot!
Music Vice editor Brian Banks – So Iâm here in a cramped wee blue dressing-room in the basement of the âshoe in Toronto and Iâm joined by Girl in a Coma from San Antonio, Texas. How are you girls doing tonight?
All – good
So, youâre in Canada right now, and youâre touring with the Wedding Present across North America?
Phanie – Yes, up until Portland and then weâre jumping on another tour.
What do you reckon of the Wedding Present?
Jenn – The Wedding Present? We love them. Iâd been listening to their newest album before we joined the tour. They asked us to come along.
I canât say Iâm a fan of them.. I think theyâre pretty boring but okay!
Iâm just being blunt. Iâm much more interested in you lot and you played a good set tonight. Youâve got that whole Smiths influence going on but also Nina, your vocal is quite unique – being from Texas youâve got a bit of a Southern drawl going on but thereâs also such clarity and that quiver… lots of emotion. For your song âEl Monteâ you struck the Horseshoe in near silence, a great song, then for the next song you were kicking it again with something more rocking. Itâs pretty eclectic; how would you describe your sound?
Nina – Rock. Just rock.
Phanie – Yeah, itâs hard to put any kind of genre name on it sometimes.
Nina – Classic rock!
Jenn – Weâre kind of a confused band anyway. If you listen to the album itâs kind of a rockabilly sound one moment, to Tex-Mex to Spanish. We donât try to pinpoint it too much, and besides thereâs always a new genre every week. Like âpost-punk 2010â…
Haha, fair enough. I did find it really hard to pin down your sound. I liked it but…
Nina – Just pin it with a smiley face!
A smiley face? Sounds good.
Nina – Or a face that looks a little confused and happy at the same time.
Yeah, thatâd work. You looked a little bit confused and happy at the same time when you were singing…
Nina – Itâs how I am every day!
So I hear two of you are sisters?
Nina and Phanie – Yeah, we are!
Nina – [Looks at Jenn] Even though we always do the same thing! [Mimics Jennâs sitting posture.]
Phanie – Weâre sisters and weâve been best friends since â92.
So, when did Girl in a Coma start?
Phanie – 2004…
Jenn – Oh no, 2001.
Nina – Really?
Phanie – Yeah youâre right. 2000.
So who started it all?
Nina – Them two. They were in bands when they were teenagers and they started it up again. I started playing guitar and I showed them a song I wrote and I was hired!
How long have you all been gigging and touring and stuff?
Phanie – Since 2004, that’s where I got that number from.
Jenn – Our first tour were with this group called Cultur [Couture? will correct] and they were heavily influenced by The Smiths and Morrissey too. So we hooked up together for a little tour, it was a fun tour, a great tour. And itâs kind of like getting a tattoo – youâre so addicted to want to leave and play to strangers. So after that tour it was like âOK, next year, what are we doing?â and then it go so crazy, then we go signed finally in 2007. Now we tour pretty much all Spring, Summer and Fall… save for Winter.
Phanie – We hibernate in the Winter.
You mentioned Morrissey there, legend has it that you played with him?
Jenn – We got to go on tour with him for a little bit. We met Boz Boorer through an old manager that we had and he had heard one of these little demos thatâd we did. We flew over to the UK and did a demo with Boorer. Eventually, when our first record came out he ended up passing it to Morrissey and then Morrissey asked us to tour. We did the East Coast here then we did the UK… England, Scotland, then France.
What was it like hanging out with Morrissey?
Nina – Ooh, when we got to it was…. You know, he was always doing his thing, youâd see him in the hallway sometimes and itâd be âhi..â and youâd be too nervous to look him straight in the eye. Then he came in during our show in Paris at the Olympia, it was our last show with him, and we had gotten him a thank-you present, a tie, and he came in and got us a nice bottle of champagne and sat down with us for a while. We thought he was just going to come in and then leave but he sat actually sat down and talked.
Jenn – He was really nice to us.
Nina – He was good to us!Â You know that movie The Witches of Eastwick… you know, a few witches… [notices my blank expression]…Â haha, sorry.
You guys mentioned during your set that youâve been doing covers. Youâre releasing a few covers EPs...
Nina – Yeah, the first one just came out yesterday. (13 April)
Phanie – Itâs a staggered release. The first one just came out, then the next one next week (20 April) then the last one comes out in the third week. Theyâre only on vinyl and digital. If you collect them on vinyl it makes a boardgame…
Oh really? What kind of boardgame?
Phanie – Well, itâs called Adventures In Coverland and itâs kind of like your own tour.
Jenn – Itâs like you and friends are travelling on tour with Girl in a Coma, make it to all the States until our last show in our hometown San Antonio. But then thereâs all these fun little things like âmove upâ, âmove backâ, âyou’re hungoverâ… itâs kind of cute. Itâs not like the funnest boardgame ever but…
Nina – Itâs right up their with Candy Land!
So what kind of songs are you covering on the records?
Nina – Well, the first one we have the Beatlesâ âWhile My Guitar Gently Weepsâ and Selena..
Phanie – We did Selena because sheâs big in Texas, sheâs a Spanish-American singer. Then our second one we did a Joy Division cover and a Bowie cover. Then the last one is Velvet Underground and Patsy Cline. We just wanted to show what weâre into and kind of educate… you know, because thereâs maybe someone who doesnât know who Selena is, and someone else might not know Joy Division.
Jenn – And also because we could pull it off. Some of the ones we were thinking about they were a little too difficult or just not right for us right now. Like she wanted to Jim Buckley…
Nina – Yeah but not yet…
Jenn – Eventually maybe a Rufus Wainright song, thatâd be cool…
Nina – Yeah, I wanted to do, not âRebel Princeâ… âGrey Gardensâ.
Jenn – Yeah, so anyway, we did these songs…
Nina – âGreek Songâ! I wanted to do Greek Song.
Jenn – Weâre trying to draw back to our album because our albumâs not that old. And going back to it, like I said, a lot of those songs are so random, so like âwell, hereâs some of our influencesâ…
Phanie – This is why weâre so jumbley.
Jenn – Yeah.. and weâre talking about fucking Selena to the Beatles… itâs just really, really random.
Nina – Hehehehe. I pictured while we weâre talking our outfits kept changing!
You just mentioned the Beatles there, did you hear the story this week that the Vatican has âforgivenâ the Beatles for their statement saying they were bigger than Jesus?
Phanie – Wow!
Jenn – Is this recent news?
Nina – Oh man.
Itâs just nice isnât it, when theyâve [the Catholic church] got that whole scandal going on about pedophiles and child abuse. It doesnât look too obvious right?
Nina – Hahaha, yeah, in the middle of all this, âLetâs forgive the Beatles!â.
Oh, itâs funny, I was slagging off the Wedding Present but that song doesnât sound too bad. [They were playing upstairs during the interview]
Nina – Theyâre whistling!
I know… itâs nice(!) So this is your first date in Canada?
Phanie – Yeah. Our first time ever.
First time ever?! Wow. What do you think of it so far?
Nina – Haha, you just got all loud and excited! Weâll weâve toured with Tegan & Sara before so we have had some Canadian experiences!
Jenn – Argh, gross!!
Nina – I mean not like that!!
Nina – Weâve had some experience, if you know what I mean!
Jenn – Nooooo!
Nina – Weâve talked to yâall. I hear thereâs a really great music program here, they really support musicians.
Uh, yeah. Thereâs a lot of bands anyway, not all of them perhaps get the help they deserve. Oh, I was speaking to a band yesterday, Hunter Valentine and they said that they played shows with you in Brookyln…
Phanie – Huh?
Nina – Who?
Jenn – Hunter Valentine… theyâre all girls? We played with them in the Knitting Factory in Brookyln.
Hmm, so I donât know what else to ask now…
Jenn – I think we covered everything.
Phanie – We love Canada and weâre going to come back.
You love it after one day?
Phanie – Yeah, we love it.
Jenn – âI donât believe you!â
Well this is your first Canadian press but Iâm from Scotland so…
Jenn – I guess what she was trying to say is we have a lot of Canadian friends so, and weâve had friends that have visited… Weâre friends with The Stills…
Nina – The beerâs good!
Keithâs is good, whatâre you drinking?
Nina – Mill Street Tankhouse
Thatâs not bad. Iâll just wrap this up with the obligatory; This interview is for Music Vice, do you girls have any vices you wish to open up about other than music?
Jenn – Um, I guess alcohol.
You could say something more imaginative if you want…
Nina – Cartwheels! Doing cartwheels!
Doing cartwheels? How come you didnât do one during the show?!
Phanie – Snorting… cocaine
Nina – Haha, how did you have to make it so bad??
Phanie – Snorting ants.
Jenn – I think what we would like to see – this has nothing to do with your question – but more female albums. The music industry is so weird right now… itâs a great time to fucking weird out everybody’s brains and have a hundred other all-girl bands playing music. Itâs always been a male dominated business and Iâm so sick of it!
Nina – Throw your glass against the wall!!
Okay, this is something to talk about. So what is the solution to getting more girls in music?
Jenn – Just keep encouraging them. I mean, girls get a lot of shit from being in bands, especially from guys. They slag you off already just automatically because youâre girls.
Did you experience a lot of stigma when you were starting out?
Nina – People always just thought we were the girlfriends of somebody or something. Itâs like âwe donât really like girl bands, but yâall okay!â
Jenn – âLet me help you with your equipment.â
Nina – We didnât get anything too bad… we just saw the Runaways movie and you can kind of see how the bands they were touring with just talked shit to them, âYou canât play youâre instrumentsâ, almost about to fight kind of thing, but we havenât gone through anything like that.
Jenn – Even if it did happen, we didnât care.
Nina – I mean other things, like just being female, Iâve gotten smacked on the ass before and I told Jenn and Jenn poured a beer on the guy. But as for playing music, we usually get respect in the end.
Â© Brian Banks, Music Vice
Gig review and photos – Girl in a Coma at the Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto
Girl in a Coma – Official Website, Myspace
Anyone interested in the Adventures in Coverland EP’s can find them at Blackheart Records