It’s a rare feat when a young up-and-coming band can follow up an impressive debut album with a superior second album, but Girl in a Coma has done just that with sophomore effort “Trio B. C.”
The trio, featuring singer/guitarist Nina Diaz, her sister Phanie on drums and openly lesbian bass player Jenn Alva, burst onto the national scene out of San Antonio in 2007 with their debut, “Both Before I’m Gone,” on Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records.
Soon after, the group was tearing it up on the road on the gay-friendly True Colors Tour and punk-credible Warped Tour. They also found themselves opening for the varied likes of Social Distortion, Tegan and Sara, Morrissey and The Pogues.
Phanie Diaz said performing in front of so many different audiences had its ups and downs.
“We had a lot of fun with Tegan and Sara,” she said. “There were no rules and they were down to earth. We could do what we want. With Morrissey, it was very intimidating. For some reason, the Morrissey crowd is very particular. It was a challenge every night to win them over. He had a lot of rules. You couldn’t go into certain sections. It was very respectful, which is fine. It’s Morrissey. He can do that.”
From the sound of the new album, all that roadwork paid off. “Trio B.C.” finds the band digging deep into its Texas-bred influences.
“We recorded it near El Paso,” Phanie said. “We did it on a pecan ranch and it’s really cool. It’s got that Texas vibe to it. We wrote a lot of bluesy, rockabilly songs for this record. We felt very at home at that studio, so I would think it would reflect us more.”
Phanie added the group’s desire to reflect more Texas culture, as well as its Latin background, inspired the album’s title and artwork, which was illustrated by artist Shizu Salamando.
“We were having trouble coming up with the album cover at first,” Phanie said. “At first we were going to do, literally, a photo of our grandfather playing in his band. The album is named after a band that he has in the 1950s. I found a photo of him playing the drums with the drumhead saying ‘Trio B.C.’ But it just didn’t feel right. It wasn’t working. Shizu had done artwork for the ‘Their Cell’ video of Nina on these handkerchiefs. We really liked her work. She is very involved in the Latino community and drawing the way Latinos live. So we thought she could kind of capture it. We gave her a picture of ourselves and told her to draw us the way we are. It’s very real. That’s the reason we chose her.”
Another nod to the group’s Latin roots on the new album is “Ven Cerca,” the first song Girl in a Coma recorded in Spanish. Phanie said she hopes the band will someday perform in Spanish-speaking countries.
“Eventually we want to go to Mexico,” she said. “We get a lot of fan mail from people who want us to come down and play. We’d love to get down there.”
Jett produced two songs on the new record (“Vino” and “Joannie In The City”), but Phanie said having a rock goddess at the studio controls didn’t make the band alter its artistic course.
“She gets us and we get along great,” she said. “She’s kind of like a big sister and a mentor. She sees what we’re trying to do and she’s constantly telling us how we remind her of how she was with The Runaways and growing up with them. To us, it’s a huge compliment. I don’t feel that when she came in to do those two songs that she changed anything or made anything different out of what we normally do.”
For this round of touring, Phanie said the group will top the bills they play on more often.
“We’re playing two or three festivals on this tour, but we’re mainly focusing on headlining ourselves and getting the record exposed,” she said. “Toward the end of the year, we’re trying to jump back on some support dates with some bigger acts. It’s pretty much going to be the same routine that we did last year — another two years of touring.”
Girl in a Coma performs at 8 p.m. June 17 at The Khyber, 56 Second St. For more information, visit www.girlinacoma.com or call (215) 238-5888.