Girl in a Coma's Phanie Diaz says the best thing about having come out as a lesbian last year is the feeling of being true to herself. It's been surprising, she says, how little her sexual identity has altered the course of her musical endeavors. "A lot of the Latino community is old school," she told me during a phone interview last week, "but for some reason it's been no problem."
If anything, she says, coming out has "just made our following more diverse."
Girl in a Coma's members have mastered diversity. They are three Latina rockers who take equal influence from Selena and grunge. Drummer Diaz and bassist Jenn Alva, both 30, have been friends since seventh grade, and they identify as lesbians. Phanie's little sister Nina, 22, adds vocals and heterosexual contrast (she pines and flirts for a pretty boy in the band's "El Monte" video).
The trio are tattoo-loving San Antonio natives who embrace their Texas roots and say they have no plans to leave the Lone Star state. They're signed to Joan Jett's Blackheart Records. Their first two albums of original music, 2007's Both Before I'm Gone and 2009's Trio B.C., emphasize starkly authentic melodic rock and never rely on production clichés.
The band is currently touring in support of Adventures in Coverland, the 2010 release that gives fans a glimpse of Girl in a Coma's widespread musical influences, including Joy Division, the Beatles, David Bowie, Selena and Morrissey.
"Alternative rock has always been a main influence for us," adds Phanie. "We listened to a lot of Riot Grrl bands and Hole."
Another influence was the Diaz sisters' grandfather. He emigrated from Mexico and was a drummer in a Tejano band. Following his lead, Phanie and Nina learned how to blaze their own trail.
"We would watch him play a lot, but he never really showed us how to play," says Phanie. "We learned on our own."