"Girl in a Coma's 'Adventures in Coverland' sees song for 'Machete.'" – Interview

If there is one band out there that you need to check out, it’s Girl in a Coma. Girl in a Coma was the first band that I got to review for Zoiks! Online and they set the bar that has yet to be surpassed. I live in Moline, IL. Earlier this year I was at a birthday party in Milwaukee, which is 3+ hours away. It was a Sunday morning and I was leaving Milwaukee to come home. When I got home Jason (our editor) says to me, ‘want to go see Girl in a Coma tonight?’ Of course I do; well it’s in Chicago, which is 3 hours away.

So I literally get home, jump into Jason’s car and head to Chicago to catch a 30 to 45 minute set by Girl in a Coma and then head home back to Moline - that is how awesome Girl in a Coma is. Recently I got the chance to speak with the bassist Jenn Alva about their new cover album “Adventures in Coverland,” their contribution to Robert Rodriguez’s “Machete” and performing a Selena song with Selena’s family in attendance.

Q - How did "Adventures in Coverland" come about?

A - Blackheart, our record label, wanted to know if we wanted to do an album of covers. We’re in between albums now, we’re working on our third and we said, ‘yeah sure.’ Plus it was a bit of an idea to tie back to our second release “Trio B.C.” as to why our albums are so random. It’s like, one song’s a ballad, one song’s upbeat, one’s…punk rock. It kind of gives an explanation of why our songs are the way that they are. Plus we can educate some younger fans who have no idea who Joy Division is or Patsy Cline or whatever. It provided us with an opportunity to do something like that.

Q - It seems like vinyl is making a bit of a comeback. Why did you decide to initially release the album in a series of EPs on vinyl?

A - We were just going to do a digital and vinyl release. We’re all into vinyl and I came up with the concept to do the cover of a board game. We weren’t going to release it on CD. That’s the way it was, it was supposed to be digital and vinyl and we ended up releasing it on CD. We all adore vinyl records.

Q - How did you come to pick the songs you were going to cover?

A - We had a long list of covers we all chose. Each girl made our list and Nina had the final say, because she was the one who had to rearrange it and see what we could all pull off. It ended up being those seven songs. Initially we were going to do six and release 2 on each 7 inch. We recorded seven just to do it. Then “Machete,” the movie, we did a song for that, so we thought we might as well do one more cover so then we’ll have three extra songs on the CD.

Q - Speaking of “Machete,” I'm a big Robert Rodriguez fan. How did you hook up with him?

A - He’s from San Antonio, he lives in Austin now, we have a mutual friend, Betty, and Betty told him, ‘hey go check out these girls; they’re really good.’ He came out to SXSW and the video that he made he recorded just for fun. He came to all four shows and he basically pieced it together. We ended up clicking; he’s really cool. Just a common background with San Antonio and we just ended up being friends and he needed one more song for “Machete” and he asked if we would write. Nina said, ‘yeah, well I kind of have this riff that I’ve been playing with for a long time. Nina wrote that song, we added the bass and the drums, it turned out to be a really cool song, he really liked it. We’re honored that he used it.

Q - You directed one of your videos. What was that experience like?

A - It was awesome. I’ve been wanting to for so long now. I was bugging our team to give me a chance; they said ‘ok, we’re going to give you a small budget.’ I ended up being able to do one for the covers album. I chose Patsy Cline. I got the idea from an Elvis movie so I thought that it would make sense to do Patsy Cline. It looks great. Everybody helped me out, it was fun. It was just great, I can’t wait to do another one.

Q - You were asked to perform Selena's "Si Una Vez" at the Tejano Music Awards. You also got to meet Selena's family. What was that like?

A - It was nerve racking. We’re big fans of Selena and her family. We came in for rehearsal. I didn’t see, but the girls saw that they were there. We were just intimidated. We did our rehearsal and we met them and they were really sweet. That same day we performed it at the show and they told us they really liked our version that we were really true to it. To get their approval meant the world to us. For them to hear our version was great.

Q - Ever since hearing "Trio B.C." I have been a fan. I came across a YouTube video of you playing “Cherry Bomb” with Cherie Currie of The Runaways. How did that come about?

A - That was another check off the list too, it was just awesome. She was in town promoting the movie. Blackheart suggested it, they said, ‘hey do you want to do a song with Girl in a Coma?’ She had a busy schedule because of the movie coming out. She said, ‘sure yeah.’ We just felt like super rock stars with her fronting us. It was such a great experience.

Q - Speaking of the Runaways, Joan Jett more or less discovered you; she even played on one of your songs. What's working with Joan Jett like?

A - It’s great. She’s awesome, really down to Earth. I think the best thing that she does for us is her approval and support. She’s really proud of us girls. It’s one thing for her to be Joan Jett. It’s another thing for her to be herself and be proud of us. She’s there if we need advice. Her support is the best thing we could ask for.

Q - You’ve been on the road a lot the last couple of years. What are your future touring plans?

A - Right now we’re opening up for Dramarama; we’re headed for New Jersey and New York for the next few days. That’ll be cool, but after that we’re heading home and we’re pretty much home for the holidays. We’re also doing a few Texas dates which is going to be fun. We’re writing the new album and hopefully we’ll be in the studio early January/February. Hopefully it’ll come out in the spring. That would be awesome.

Check out the review of “Adventures in Coverland” here: "Girl in a Coma covers The Beatles, Joy Division and David Bowie in 'Adventures in Coverland.'" – Music Review


Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at bob@zoiksonline.com.
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