Skating Polly

Skating Polly Interview & Gallery, Part 1

The Interview

The Interview

Skating Polly have been busy. The youth­ful sis­ter act per­formed seven shows at this year’s SXSW fes­ti­val, knocked out audi­ences at the sixth annual Norman Music Festival, released their sec­ond full-length album, Lost Wonderfuls (pro­duced by L.A. punk rock leg­end Exene Cervenka and mixed by Flaming Lips drum­mer Kliph Scurlock), and just fin­ished their sec­ond tour in six months, open­ing for The Flaming Lips in Indianapolis. All while keep­ing up good grades in school and con­tin­u­ally writ­ing mate­r­ial for their next release. Did we men­tion that they’ve also released a steady stream of music videos in sup­port of the new album?

Stepsisters Peyton Bighorse and Kelli Mayo joined us, along with Kelli’s father, David Mayo, plus a video crew from Rev Hi-Fi for an inter­view dur­ing a 3-day break in the mid­dle of the tour.

Mercury Photo BureauYou guys just came off of the first leg of a tour, I understand.

Skating PollyYes.

Peyton (I)
Peyton (I) — Chloës CD Release Party, Kamp’s Bar, Oklahoma City

Peyton BighorseYeah, we played with the Flaming Lips in Indianapolis. It was a lot of fun […]; Kliph [Scurlock], actu­ally, before we played, got on stage and intro­duced us to the crowd. It was really nerve-wrack­ing; there were like, 2600 peo­ple there. So, it was the biggest show we ever played.

Kelli MayoAll those guys [in the Flaming Lips] are really nice to us; like, their new light show is super cool — we love The Terror so much; it’s one of our favorite albums. So it was really cool; we were, like, back­stage watch­ing them and chillin’ and [watch­ing] how every­one was tak­ing it in. Everyone took it in pretty well; every­one liked it […].

MPBI under­stand your drumkit came from Kliph?

MayoUm, yeah. We did a music video with the peo­ple who did their music videos, Delo Creative, and, so I guess Kliph saw one of our videos on their [web­site], and he was like, Oh, who is that? And then George [Salisbury] is like, Oh, it’s Skating Polly. And, so, Kliph came to one of our shows, and after that, he was just super, super sup­port­ive; like, he bought Taking Over the World and he, like, invited us to one of his shows, and he got us back­stage passes and we saw one of their shows. And it was, like, really really fun.

We met Wayne [Coyne], and Wayne came to one of our shows, and after that, it was just like, you know, Kliph’s the most impor­tant per­son we know. He gave us his drum set ’cause he got a new sil­ver drum set for The Terror, and, it’s — yeah, he’s like — I couldn’t really ask for any­thing more from him. We always go out and eat din­ner together with him; he’s boughten us some cool records before.

MPBPeyton, you were a drum­mer first, right; before Kelli? So, how did you pick up the drums?

BighorseIn, like, I think it was either 7th or 8th grade. Probably 8th, actu­ally; I started tak­ing drum lessons, about half a year; and then I just decided I wasn’t really — I wasn’t really want­ing to go in the direc­tion that the drum teacher was, like, tak­ing me? Because he was want­ing to teach me all this, like, tech­ni­cal “metal” drum­ming, which is cool if you’re gonna be in a metal band, but I don’t want to be in a metal band. So I just kind of stopped it and started doing my own stuff […].

MPBThat brings me to one of those ques­tions that I’m sure you get asked a lot, which is, How would you describe your music?

MayoUm, well, that’s always a tough ques­tion, because, like, we don’t nec­es­sar­ily want to clas­sify our music as punk music, because it’s not really com­pletely punk music; I mean, we have some more louder, grungy sound­ing songs, but we’re not com­pletely a punk band. We also have really “poppy” sound­ing songs. So, I really don’t know; when­ever I describe [our] music to peo­ple, I kind of just say it’s like a mix­ture; it’s just — we do have some stuff that’s more like grungy … and punk. But then we also have really “poppy,” more “indie,” “alter­na­tive,” stuff.

MPBKelli, if I did my research right, you started play­ing the basitar [Sidenote: Basitar /ˈbæs-ɪ-tɑr/​: Kelli’s 3-stringed hybrid bass-gui­tar instru­ment The instru­ment began with two strings, but added an “e” string since this inter­view first posted.] because your dad gave it to you?

Kelli (III)
Kelli (III) — Chloës CD Release Party, Kamp’s Bar, Oklahoma City

MayoWhenever we first started our band, I couldn’t — I was, what? 9? I think? And I would whine about how my fin­gers hurt from hold­ing down the gui­tar strings […], so my dad made me this instru­ment called a basitar […], and the Presidents of the United States of America made 1, and my dad, like, heard about it. And what it is, is like, you can hold down any two bass strings any­where on it, and it cre­ates a chord, and so that’s why I play it, because it was pretty sim­ple, and I could come up with — well, I would try to come up with, you know, lit­tle sim­ple melodies off of it.

On our first record, most of the songs would have only two or four chords in them [laughs].

MPBI was gonna ask about your fam­ily if you don’t mind talk­ing about that. You’re a blended fam­ily; cor­rect? You’re stepsisters?

BighorseWell, our par­ents have just been together, for a while now. Like, um, we’ve known each other for … a really long time. I don’t know how long it’s been …

Mayo… Five years, maybe?

BighorseA few years ago, maybe, when I was in 9th or 10th grade, we moved in together and just — I guess that’s when we started get­ting pretty close. So we like — there’s [Kelli]’s dad, and my mom, and I have two broth­ers, and she has a brother, so we have, like, seven peo­ple in our fam­ily. And we’re all pretty close; I mean, like, we all hang out with each other; like, I remem­ber a few years ago I did not want to hang out with my fam­ily. I felt lame. But, I’m like — it was just a phase. I’m glad I’m out of that phase. I really enjoy hang­ing out with my family.

MPBKelli, your dad, David, is a musi­cian? Can you tell me a lit­tle bit about that?

MayoWell, um, both of our par­ents kind of work on music. But, my dad’s actu­ally, like, a lawyer. He was in a band before, when­ever he was, like, in his early twen­ties […], but, like, yeah, right now he’s just a lawyer. I mean, they still work on music, but he’s not tech­ni­cally a musi­cian. He recorded our — he was the one who really had all of the, like, music equip­ment in our house, and that was all his stuff. And that’s kind of how me and Peyton got inter­ested in play­ing music, because […] we had instru­ments and we could just mess around with [them]. And he […] showed me how to use that stuff. And he recorded […] most of our first album, except for, like, the drum tracks, and a few vocal takes, just on a home recorder.

MPBYou report­edly had some prob­lems with the record deal falling through, ini­tially, on your sec­ond album?

BighorseWe were on this record label, and it was really cool; like, they were really nice. But, I guess they just didn’t have as much money as they thought they did? So they didn’t […] have enough money to put our album out. So we were kind of just sit­ting there with an album to be released, but we didn’t have a label to release it on. And we had this man­ager who was try­ing to get us, like, these really big record deals, which would have been really cool, if she could have got­ten them for us, but it was just like a really … far shot […]. She was try­ing to get, like, Third Man Records, and then, like, uh —

MayoThere was just a lot of dead time, really, where we weren’t really doing any­thing, or we were just try­ing to do stuff. So that’s how the album got delayed. And then we got an offer from S.Q.E., and we were like, Yeah, yeah! Yeah, let’s just release this! We love our new label; we love all the peo­ple there. Everyone’s really nice.

Peyton (XIII)
Peyton (XIII) — Chloës CD Release Party, Kamp’s Bar, Oklahoma City

MPBAre you workin’ on a third album?

BighorseWe’re record­ing some music; we don’t know if it’s all gonna go on our third. album. But we have a bunch of piano songs we recently recorded, and we’re gonna start work­ing on some of our louder songs. […]

MPBI saw the other day that you posted some­thing about — you were doing a video for Placer, was it; or was it re-record­ing Placer?

BighorseWe did a video for Carrots on Saturday.

David Mayo[to Peyton and Kelli] I know what he’s talk­ing about […]. It was Daytrotter. Yeah, you guys posted a photo of you record­ing Placer for Daytrotter. [Sidenote: Daytrotter has released the ses­sion; you can lis­ten here.] […] [turn­ing to me] They have all these bands come in — it’s cool — they have a lot of bands that aren’t such a big deal, but then they’ll have, like, Counting Crows, you know, huge bands and smaller bands. You go to this place in Rock Island, Illinois, and you record these ses­sions, and they, later, put them out. And you pay, like, two dol­lars a month for access to all these songs. […]

MPBDo you guys want to talk about work­ing with Exene [Cervenka], and how you met her?

Kelli (XIII)
Kelli (XIII) — Chloës CD Release Party, Kamp’s Bar, Oklahoma City

MayoWe met Exene … 2008? I still had red hair, so yeah. 2008, we met her at one of her solo shows at the Conservatory. And, like, it was really just a dream come true for us, because we really really really loved X, and we really liked her solo work, and it was just, like, crazy meet­ing her, and the sec­ond we did meet her, we were just, like, you know, ask­ing her all these ques­tions, and just telling her, like, just how much we loved her music, and how much we loved X, and just how awe­some she was, and maybe a lit­tle bit about our band.

Like, we even played […] some of our demos on Peyton’s phone. It was a really really bad sound qual­ity, but, like, I think, just our talk­ing about our taste in music piqued Exene’s inter­est […], because, like, Oh, well, let’s just exchange emails, and that’s what we did. And then we actu­ally sent her, like, good demos, as we would come out with them, from Lost Wonderfuls. As we’d record some­thing, we’d send it to her. And then, after a cou­ple of songs, she was like, Well, how about I come and pro­duce this new record? […] And then she came down for a week, and she pro­duced our record.

MPBYou men­tioned show­ing those demos to Exene, and, actu­ally, the first thing I saw by you was a YouTube video where you were in a mov­ing vehi­cle, singing a song. It was Chris Sanders from the Venditos who sent me the link [when Skating Polly played at Kamp’s Lounge in December 2012], ’cause he wanted me to come up and pho­to­graph the show, and he wanted to make sure I heard some of the music and made a deci­sion about whether I even wanted to see these bands. Boy, was that a Yes! And, it was really from see­ing that video of you two […].

Skating Polly — No. 4. VDub Sessions No. 7. From their debut album, Taking Over the World

MayoOur friend, Nathan Poppe, and, who else was in that?

BighorseJonathan Fowler and Emily Fowler were also there.

MayoWell, Nathan Poppe does these things called VDub Sessions, where he takes bands, and, he usu­ally has them pretty stripped down — I mean, they have to be able to play inside of a car. And, they have to do it in the SPY van. And he just films them, and, like, puts a song up on his page. […] I think it was right before we released Taking Over the World. […] So, it was kind of one of our first record­ings of a song that we had — it was No. 4.


Kamp’s Galleries

Kamp’s 1310 Lounge

Skating Polly opened for the Chloës at Kamp’s 1310 Lounge in Oklahoma City last December. We were impressed before they even started play­ing by their calm, pro­fes­sional demeanor dur­ing the sound check. The show itself was any­thing but calm — Peyton and Kelli unleased a tor­rent of rock ’n’ roll, hold­ing their own against both of the other acts (the Venditos also played that night). We left the show hun­gry for more Skating Polly. Fortunately, they’ve been very active in the Oklahoma City metro since then; be sure to check out for pic­tures from some of their sub­se­quent shows.

The light­ing at Kamp’s wasn’t always friendly for color pho­tog­ra­phy, so we present two gal­leries: black + white, and color.

Kamps’s Gallery, B + W

Kamps’s Gallery, Color

About Chris J. Zähller

International Man of Mystery. Cocktail Nerd. Occasionally designs websites. Sometimes snaps a picture or two.

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