NEW MUSIC | SKATING POLLY

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Peyton Bighorse and Kelli Mayo – both of whom are still in their teens – are Skating Polly, a prodigal pop-rock and punk-indie duo. Unburdened by excessive expectation these Oklahoma City step-sisters are set to release their fourth album this year – and the band is yet to reach its sixth birthday. Not that they know when or even what it will be called. “We’ve been going over names,” Peyton says, “but we haven’t really settled on one yet. We’re just kinda’ going with it. There’s no real deadline.”

That nonchalance does not translate as glibness though. They take the processes of songwriting seriously. To the extent: “we actually recorded two albums worth of songs,” Kelli explains. “We did one album which was probably like soft songs on piano and acoustic guitar and keyboard, and we did another album and it has more loud songs on it.”

Is that part of a concerted ‘progression’ of the band? “I don’t think we were too worried about whether our record sounded like a new and improved Skating Polly,” says Peyton, “because as we’ve got older and as we’ve become better musicians we’re just working on our songs more.” Kelli concurs: “I try to push myself to do something different, something that I haven’t already done before.”

It’s that self-assured ability to cohesively knit loud snarling punky songs like ‘Alabama Movies’ together with quieter piano neo-ballads ‘A Little Late’ on the album that is so exciting. They keep the listening experience unstable, on an uneven footing. They are mapping out the future of garage pop-punk by incorporating unpredictable vocal contusions and sharp variations in pace and volume – and still writing beautiful melodies.

That process was facilitated by Kate Nash, whom the duo supported during the latter’s American tour of 2013. Peyton says: “usually I would just scream some melodies into the microphone and go, ‘that’s a song’. But, especially around Kate, I’ve noticed I’ve been writing more songs with more melodies in the singing.” It was that tour that exposed them, for the first time, to fame.

“People would come up to me after shows and treat me like I was Kate Nash or something – I would always be like a little bit weirded out, but also just super giddy that they were so excited to meet me because I’m just like a normal child,” she says, laughing.

That ‘super giddy’ feeling was even more familiar after Skating Polly were chosen to tour with Babes in Toyland on the English leg of their European tour. Which was a dream come true for Peyton: “I have been obsessed with Babes in Toyland since I was little.” Babes in Toyland drummer Lori Barbero was also an early fan of the band.

“We played Austin at SXSW (in 2013) and she came and she was so sweet and said the nicest things about us. We played Los Angeles recently and we didn’t even tell her about that show – but she came to that as well.” Barbero laid down a few hints about getting Skating Polly to support her band, and then, “I got a call a few months ago from a random LA number, and it was Kat Bjelland. She was like ‘do you have any plans for this summer?’ And I was like ‘Ah! No! I’ll go anywhere with you!’ And yeah, that all worked out. We’re very lucky” adds Peyton, a poignant postscript.

Skating Polly have the tunes and the talent to stand head and shoulders above the welter of indie rock bands and it looks like 2015 will be their biggest year yet. They are “looking for labels right now”, but they surely with songs this good, they won’t be looking for very long.

Barney Horner

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