Phanie Diaz can trace back to one specific moment when she knew her group, Girl in a Coma, was destined for big things.
That moment predates the band’s big break, signing with rock icon Joan Jett’s label, Blackheart Records. It even came before an offer to travel to London and record a demo tape when Phanie’s sister, lead singer and guitarist Nina Diaz, was still in high school.
“It was probably the first time I heard Nina sing,” Phanie says.
Suddenly, Phanie knew the band she and best friend Jenn Alva had grappled with throughout their teenage years was going places. After years of auditioning and cutting members, because something just wasn’t working, things were about to vastly change for the better.
Of course, Nina was 12 years old at the time.
That’s when Nina politely asked her big sister to take a listen to a song she had written.
“She was a baby, but she was already writing songs,” Phanie recalls. “And the songs weren’t silly, stupid songs. They were mature for her age. They weren’t Hannah Montana songs. Right then and there, we knew.”
Since Nina officially joined the band, lots of listeners have shared that same experience. When she first caught wind of the band, the aforementioned Jett, easily identified with the defiant, raucous sound Girl in a Coma put out and signed them to her label on the spot. But the band’s list of well-known endorsers doesn’t end there. Former Jane’s Addition guitarist Dave Navarro went so far as to call the trio of Alva and the Diaz girls his “favorite new band.”
Audiences seem to agree, growing notably larger with every show and shouting the lyrics to the latest songs before they’re even released.
Now two albums into their deal with Jett, Girl in a Coma continues to win over fans with the same spunky, vibrant sound that turned Jett into a legend all those years ago. In fact, Jett offers a guest appearance on “Joanie In The City,” a tune off just-released (June 2) album Trio B.C.
Produced by Grammy-winning Greg Collins (U2, Gwen Stefani), Trio B.C. veers slightly from the straight-ahead punk rock approach, mixing in a few ballads (like “Pink Lemonade”) and culminating in the group’s first Spanish-language track, a cover of Mexican pop song “Ven Cerca.”
The album gets its handle from the Diaz girls’ grandfather’s tejano band. As one might expect when two-thirds of the group is related, family played a big role in Girl in a Coma’s development, particularly Phanie and Nina’s mother when it came time for a big decision.
“All my mother ever wanted for us was to get educated, graduate and be comfortable,” Phanie says. “But eventually, we got an offer to do a demo tape in London and in order to do that, Nina needed to drop out of school. It must have been tough for her, but our mother realized how much we wanted to do this. It was almost like she put Nina and [Jenn in my] hands.
“Now, she’s super proud of us and she has a room in our house where she keeps all of our press clippings.”
Hopefully it’s a big room. At the rate her girls are going, Mother Diaz is going to need the space.
• Girl in a Coma performs June 16 at The Red and the Black in Washington, D.C. For more information on Girl in a Coma, visit www.girlinacoma.com.