San Antonio-based chicana punk band Fea formed in 2014 after drummer Phanie Diaz and bassist Jenn Alva left their former project, Girl in a Coma. Lead vocalist Letty Martinez and guitarist Bobby Rivas join Phanie and Jenn to complete the group.
Bassist Jenn Alva is one of the founding members of Fea and formerly a member of Girl in a Coma. Fea is one of 9 groups performing at KRTU’s Spring Showcase at Paper Tiger on March 7.
Tell me about the evolution of Fea. How did y’all get to where you are now as a band?
We started with the slow departure of Girl in a Coma, and it was an opportunity for Phanie and I to kind of put together our dream band. We were so inspired by a lot of females in the nineties when we grew up, and we wanted to add culture to it as well, so that’s how Fea came about. It took us a little while to find the right members, but we did.
You mention women in the industry as an inspiration. Can you talk a little bit about why you think women should be highlighted in music?
Of course I think it’s important. We want to support other females. It’s one of those things that’s like how long do we have to talk about this? It’s so crazy. It’s an ongoing battle. It’s a genre now, women in rock, and it shouldn’t have ever had to be that way. Women have to struggle, and it’s a lot harder, and you’re judged a lot more when you want to play rock ’n‘ roll. It’s important that we stick together and support one another because what else can you do?
You said culture is a really important aspect of your music. How do San Antonio and the San Antonio scene fit in with the work y’all do with Fea?
I think being brought up in San Antonio, we want to pay tribute to how we came about as a person. You’re around all types of music. We have a song called “No Hablo Español,” and that’s pretty much saying that a lot of our generation was brought up not learning Spanish because our families felt like it would bring us back, and that’s totally not the case. That’s a sign of intelligence when you know more languages. So we want to talk about these subjects. We happen to be raised in an awesome city that we can bring in our culture and our melting pot of Mexican, San Antonio, Tex-Mex, everything, into being.
You’ve been a part of the scene for a while. How has it changed?
It’s always been a roller coaster to me. When Phanie and I were teenagers, there were lines for local bands, and then it dies down with bands breaking up, moving whatever it might be, and then the next batch could be where it’s kind of stale and there’s not much activity happening, and then it picks up again. When we were playing, bands like the Offbeats were playing, and people were really showing up and really attentive to these local groups. I think it also had to do with local magazine support, too, with The Current. It’s changed, and I don’t know. I think that has to do with the city developing, and music can be pushed aside, but I’ve seen a lot of cool local bands recently so maybe it’ll surge up again.
Fea has gotten quite a bit of national recognition, from signing to Joan Jett’s label to being recognized as an influential band by NPR. What’s that like?
I think it has to do with our label, Blackheart, believing in Phanie and I really because when Girl in a Coma was deciding to take a break, we kind of freaked out. We didn’t know what we were going to do, but luckily, with support from people and bands and the label, it’s what we needed to start Fea. The attention we’ve gotten is amazing. We didn’t know what to expect. We were just glad Blackheart was into our ideas and they continue to be.
What can people expect when they see you play at the showcase on March 7?
We’re a punk band. We sing in Spanish and English. There’s a lot of energy. You can tell we love playing together and just expect a really good punk show.
What’s in the future for Fea?
We’ve been writing a new album, and as for the showcase, we have quite a few new songs, so we’ll be recording hopefully at the end of March back in El Paso, a full-length. Hopefully, this new album is better than the first.
What has changed between the two albums?
I think there’s a slight shift. I think that it’s a growing process that is appreciated or its not. With Girl in a Coma, we saw that a lot of people loved that first album, and it means a lot to them, and then there was growth in the second album. A lot of people find the first album more organic, and some love the second album for its growth. There’s really no telling what people will think of the difference between our first self-titled album, and this new one. There’s definitely growth for sure, in songwriting and in the way, really the way Letty came in. She’s been there arranging ideas. We really trust each other this go-around. The first album, we weren’t sure yet. Letty’s amazing, but we weren’t sure with this new person we just started working with. This go-around, we know it, and we’re showing it for sure.