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Nina Diaz (of Girl in A Coma)

Nina Diaz (of Girl in A Coma)

Cold Roses, Lady E & The Black Light

Tue · August 15, 2017

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

$10.00 - $12.00

This event is 18 and over

Nina Diaz
Nina Diaz
“Nina Diaz is one of the two or three most exciting, scary-good vocalists in rock today.”
— David Brown, KUT/NPR

Almost two decades ago, on January 9, 1998, musician Nina Diaz was heartbroken to learn her grandmother had passed away. Exactly 15 years later, on that same date, Nina was writing new material when she felt someone watching over her. “I was using that night and felt this crazy energy,” says Nina, who had been battling substance and drug addiction for years. She did this, unassumingly, while fronting Girl in a Coma, the critically hailed indie-punk band that was famously nurtured by Joan Jett, had opened for Morrissey and Tegan and Sara, and earned multiple Independent Music Awards. Adds Nina, “I knew it was my grandmother.”

She ended up naming that mid-tempo, balladic song “January 9th.” Though that track doesn’t necessarily typify the eclectic sound of The Beat Is Dead, her debut solo release, it does set the album’s bittersweet tone. “On the demo, you can hear somebody whisper words before I sing them,” Nina says. She’s pretty sure that was the ghost of her grandmother singing with her. Two months later, Nina became clean for good.

Many albums capture the flood of introspection that comes after a life-changing experience. But The Beat Is Dead (out October 28 on Cosmica Records)—an expansive body of work that sonically references musicals, alt-metal, indie pop, new wave—powerfully chronicles Nina’s journey itself. “This album is the story of my addiction and my sobriety,” she says. Some songs were written while using, some in the infancy of going clean, some looking back months later with clarity. “It’s like I shed a lot of different layers of skin during this process.”

The Beat Is Dead, produced by both Nina and Manuel Calderon (who engineered Girl in a Coma’s Trio B.C.), didn’t start out that way. While working on new material for her band, Nina penned the rousing “Trick Candle.” As with any other Girl in a Coma song, she fleshed it out with her bandmates, drummer Phanie Diaz (Nina’s sister) and bassist Jenn Alva. “I’m the writer, but our songs really are group efforts,” Nina says. “We jammed it out, but it didn’t feel right. It wasn’t what I envisioned.” What followed were a few difficult, but ultimately supportive, conversations about Nina taking on solo projects between Girl in a Coma albums. “It was a little rough at first. People were scared—I was scared!” she says. “But I knew I just needed to do this.”

Creative floodgates opened. “I didn’t hold back anything,” she says. “Trick Candle,” in kind, became a bright indie-electro banger. “It’s about Michael Hutchence from INXS,” she says. “I called it ‘Trick Candle,’ because to me, he’s somebody who’ll never burn out.” In the track, she implores, “Say to me I am all the things you’d like again / Say to me I am / Say to me I am Michael.” Nina was still using when she wrote those words.

“When I was young, I imagined what it would be like to live that kind of life,” she says, of romanticizing Kurt Cobain, Sid & Nancy, the model Gia Carangi. “But I would never pay attention to the endings of these stories. It was more, ‘I wanna live my life like that!’” After founding Girl in a Coma at age 13, she started drinking socially. At her 16th birthday party, acquaintances introduced her to cocaine. By the time she was 21, “I got arrested. You’d think that would be the wake-up call,” she says, “but I continued to drink and use.” After a stint in AA at age 24, she moved on to meth. “I was a functioning addict. Someone nonchalantly told my sister, not thinking it was a big deal,” she says. Her family was shocked. “It exploded into this big thing.”

The industrial sturm und drang of “Screaming Without a Sound” expresses how anxiety-ridden the steps toward sobriety can be. “It’s about when you’re trying to explain something. Do you ever have those dreams where you’re trying to say something, but nothing comes out? You can’t breathe,” Nina says. “That whole song has to do with the addict, when they’re talking to a brick wall—telling someone they need help, but the other person won’t listen.”

Allowing herself to express these rushes of emotion liberated Nina artistically. “After you’ve made a fool of yourself by treating yourself like I did while I was using and drinking, everything after that is, like, nothing,” she says. “‘Why not try this? Why not do that?’” With this abandon, she willfully drew on all of her influences: They didn’t have to speak to an overall sound; they just had to make sense in the moment. “Each song has its own message, its own energy,” she adds. What began, in her mind, as a five-track EP, grew into something epic. All told, it took her three years to assemble The Beat Is Dead.

Along the way, many demons were exorcised. Upon first listen, “Queen Beats King” seems to be a wistful, ’80s synth-take. “But it’s actually about me being enchanted by a suave guy—then all of a sudden, I’m in hell. Then I find a light. I get myself out of it.” She continues to explore that resolve with “For You,” about surrendering to post-sobriety spirituality, and the punk-cabaret “Rebirth.” “I’m back from the dead / Like I told you friend / I will not love you till you are my enemy,” she sings. “It became a mantra,” Nina says. “When you know yourself, that’s when you can hate yourself the most. But that’s part of being reborn. No birth is easy. It’s painful.”

In the case of the bluesy, almost spoken-word “Mortician’s Musician” (fittingly, The Beat Is Dead’s 13th track), Nina recounts—and, in many senses, recants—peculiar, intermittent encounters with her birth father throughout her childhood. “He’s a mortician and would pick us up on weekends in a hearse. We’d actually have to go pick up bodies with him,” she recalls. “Sometimes, I would literally sit next to a dead body.” Nina calls out him out for being blithely unaware of how desensitized he was. “I’m not a fool for saying goodbye / When all I have are promises and lies.”

“To punish myself anymore is not even possible,” Nina explains. “The Beat Is Dead means that this story is over."
Cold Roses
Cold Roses
"I don't see any contradiction between playing a loud rock 'n' roll song or a quiet acoustic ballad, if it's all coming from a place that's real and honest," says Cold Roses' singer-guitarist-songwriter Rob Clancy.

Indeed, Cold Roses' new album Escape to Anywhere makes it clear that this is a band that's too busy making dynamic, personally charged music to recognize musical limitations or genre restrictions. The Philadelphia-bred sextet deftly merges forceful sonic punch, crafty melodic hooks and emotionally forthright lyrical content, while taking advantage of the varied sonic and textural palette provided by the band's expanded instrumental lineup.

Those qualities are apparent throughout the album's 12 original songs, from the surging, anthemic drive of "Staying Alive Ain't Easy" to the soulful drama of "Divine Lorraine" to the haunting orchestral balladry of "Words Without Speaking" to the inventive acoustic textures of "Next to You" to the soaring epic rock of "No Silence in the City."

The level of commitment that drives Escape to Anywhere has been deeply ingrained in Cold Roses since the band's scrappy beginnings on Philadelphia's highly competitive live music scene. Clancy was still in his early teens when he began playing drums and guitar in other people's bands, but it wasn't long before he embraced the urge to write his own songs and play his own music.

Towards that end, Clancy assembled Cold Roses, borrowing the name from a favorite Ryan Adams song, and evolving through a series of personnel changes into a singular creative force. Almost immediately, the new outfit established itself as a presence on the local club scene. Although the band briefly gigged as an acoustic trio before adopting a standard two-guitars-bass-and-drums format, Clancy's restless creative spirit eventually drove him to add keyboards, saxophone and trumpet to the band's lineup.

"I love '60s R&B and soul, so I looked to that stuff and thought, what would happen if we bring in a horn section?" Clancy recalls. "We brought them in to rehearsal, just to see how it would sound, and they just kind of stuck. Once we got them in the band, the whole vibe just changed. Having those additional elements to draw on gave us the ability to stretch out and make unpredictable choices.

"The band developed through trial and error," Clancy explains. "We'd try different things and keep the ones that worked. And as we played more and more, our chemistry got stronger and more intuitive."

Along the way, Cold Roses earned a fervent local fan base and a reputation as a powerful live act. Despite the band's lack of a mainstream record deal, Philadelphia's legendary album-rock station WMMR jumped on board, naming Cold Roses Artist of the Month and giving airplay to songs from the band's independently released indie album No Silence in the City. Eventually, stations across the country were playing Cold Roses tracks as well.

While Escape to Anywhere demonstrates Cold Roses' credentials as a world-class outfit, Clancy is quick to note the role that the band's hometown has played in developing Cold Roses' music and character. "This band has definitely been shaped by where we're from," he states, adding, "Philly made us a working band. In Philly, if you're a band playing original material, you really have to bust your ass, and that was a big lesson for us. All of the people in this band come from very different musical backgrounds, but we're all from this area, and that common ground is a big part of the band's foundation.

"Philly has an underdog quality, and it also has such a rich R&B and jazz heritage," Clancy asserts. "It's a town with a lot of heart that doesn't put up with bullshit, and it's a working-class town with a strong work ethic. It also has some of the toughest crowds in the country to win over. We’ve played to such a wide variety of people and found a way to connect with each one of them.”

The lessons learned on the band's home turf proved invaluable during the making of Escape to Anywhere. The band recorded the album – which marks the first release for indie label Recorded Records -- at Los Angeles' Cactus studio with veteran producers David J. Holman (who also engineered) and Roger Paglia.

"Doing this record was a very different experience for us," says Clancy. "The other records we've made were done at a very different time in my life and in the band's life. This is also the first time we've recorded with a bigger lineup, so it was a challenge to figure out how to make that work in the studio.

"We approached the whole thing very organically," he continues. "We recorded everything analog, and we recorded all of the rhythm tracks live, because it was important to us to capture the feel and keep the human quality. The whole thing was really exciting, experimenting with different sounds and different ways of performing the songs. It was also the first time we'd worked with producers, and it was good having someone who had a different perspective and could offer an unbiased opinion of what we were doing."

Escape to Anywhere also finds Clancy and company revisiting key songs from their sparsely distributed indie releases.

"'No Silence in the City,' 'Leave You Alone' and 'Words Without Speaking' are songs that we first recorded on our previous album, and 'Tired of Losing You' was a song that we originally released on an old single," Clancy notes. "But re-recording them, they were like new songs to me, because I was a different person when I wrote them, and because the band was a different band when we first recorded them. I think that the song 'Escape to Anywhere' really encompasses the album. It's about that feeling of always wanting to be somewhere else, but maybe not really being sure of exactly where you want to go."

That restless sense of adventure runs through Escape to Anywhere, and marks Cold Roses as a band to watch.

"It's been a long process getting this record out, but I feel like it's been worth it." Clancy concludes. "I feel like this band now is a well-oiled machine that's firing on all cylinders, so we're looking to getting out there and seeing what it can do."
Lady E & The Black Light
Lady E & The Black Light
Based out of Nashville, TN, Lady E & The Black Light are a 5 piece Garage Rock/Punk Blues band founded by Chicago native, Erica "Lady E" Dilanjian in 2011. Rocking the Rhythm Guitar is Kevin Edlin, Tracy Graham on Bass Guitar, Joe Hudgins on Lead Guitar, John Rodrigue on Drums/Backing Vocal and Erica on Lead Vocal Guitar. The band will be releasing their 2nd EP, WANDERLUST, in Summer 2017. When Lady E is not performing with the band, you can also see her out on tour doing vocals with Electronic Industrial Artist, EN ESCH (Slick Idiot, Ex-KMFDM, Pigface).
Venue Information:
The High Watt
One Cannery Row
Nashville, TN, 37203
http://thehighwatt.com/