August 17, 2010 | 10:01am
San Antonio's Girl in a Coma lifted their name from a Smiths song. If that bothered Morrissey, it never came up in conversation while the alt power pop trio was on tour with him in 2007 opening his shows on the east coast and in Europe.
"We didn't really have much creativity in coming up with a name," says Nina Diaz by phone from her family home last week. "I think he was proud of us." She laughs. "It didn't do anything to mess up his reputation by having fans that name their group after one of his songs. I just guessed that," she laughs some more, "based on the fact that he invited us to come overseas."
GIAC were started by Nina's older sister Phanie Diaz and a childhood friend named Jenn Alva who happened to play bass. "Jenn has been in my life since I was, like, seven years old," says Diaz. Phanie plays drums and Nina sings, plays guitar, and is the band's main songwriter. She has a heartbreaker's voice and can channel earth emotions along the magnitude of a Patsy Cline. She calls her style controlled but chaotic, and then corrects herself. "Lyrically I am, but musically, it just flows into any situation."
This year, GIAC released Adventures in Coverland
, three 7" vinyl EPs (digital versions are also available) on Joan Jett's Blackheart Records label. They are mostly covers of the band's favorites. They include a Beatles tune, Joy Division, Bowie, Velvet Underground and, well, Patsy Cline.
There is a timely cover of Buffalo Springfield's prescient 1967 hit "For What It's Worth," in this case aimed at at the Arizona immigration situation. "Lately, I've been learning a lot of things I wish I didn't know," Diaz says. "It makes me angry. The banking system, where we get things, how they tell Obama what to say. I voted for him. It was my first time voting."
Until you hear the comment about Obama being her first election of voting age you forget just how young Nina Diaz is. She joined GIAC at age 13, sings much older than her 22 years. When they started gigging, she was 16 had to wait outside clubs until it was time for her to sing. Almost a decade later, even with road experience, Joan Jett's stamp of approval, and the Moz tours behind them Diaz still sees GIAC as a band in its infancy. "We still have so much more to do. We're barely breaking the surface. We're barely poking our heads through."
Now that Girl in a Coma have released their first collection of covers, who does Diaz favor to cover GIAC? "Bjork. That's from me. I mean, I'm sure the other two girls would have, you know, their own person. But I think that'd be so cool if she wanted to sing one of our songs."
GIAC will be at Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach Wednesday August 18 and Alex's Bar in Long Beach August 19.