Fusing elements of '90s-inspired alt-rock and riot grrrl with classic D.I.Y. punk and indie pop, savvy Oklahoma siblings band Skating Polly found national exposure in the early 2010s, earning both critical acclaim and support from several influential rock mentors.
Championed by Exene Cervenka and members of the Flaming Lips and Veruca Salt, step-sisters Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse became a national touring act supporting high-profile bands and releasing a string of smart, hooky albums while still teenagers. They would later recruit brother Kurtis Mayo on drums and form their own label, Chap Stereo.
Formed in Oklahoma City in 2009 when Mayo was only 9 and Bighorse just 14, the two young women played for the first time at their family's Halloween party, improvising simple songs with Bighorse on drums and Mayo playing the two-stringed basitar. Encouraged by the results, they began writing songs inspired by the '70s punk and early-'90s alt-rock they'd heard from their parents, with both of them switching instruments and lead vocals. Favoring a primitive, punk-influenced style that falls somewhere between riot grrrl acts like Bikini Kill and Babes in Toyland, and classic twee pop like Beat Happening and Kimya Dawson, the two recorded their debut album, Taking Over the World, for Norman, Oklahoma-based indie Nice People Records. After introducing themselves to X vocalist Exene Cervenka after one of her shows, Mayo and Bighorse convinced Cervenka to produce their second album, Lost Wonderfuls, in 2011. The album was mixed by Flaming Lips drummer Kliph Scurlock, and its success led the group to open tours for prominent indie acts like Deerhoof, Band of Horses, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and the Flaming Lips. For their third album, they worked with another influential figure, K Records guru and Beat Happening frontman Calvin Johnson. The record, titled Fuzz Steilacoom, was released in March 2014 via the duo's own Chap Stereo imprint. 2015 saw the release of a pair of new singles as Skating Polly continued to expand their touring range with a stint supporting Babes in Toyland throughout Europe. By year's end they'd completed their fourth album, The Big Fit, which arrived in March 2016.
Among Skating Polly's growing list of admirers were Veruca Salt frontwomen Nina Gordon and Louise Post who reached out later that year looking to collaborate. Working together in Los Angeles, the combo wrote and recorded the three-song EP New Trick, which was released in April 2017. The New Trick sessions introduced them to producer Brad Wood (Liz Phair, Smashing Pumpkins), who went on to helm Skating Polly's next record, 2018's The Make It All Show. By this point, their brother, Kurtis Mayo, had permanently joined the band on drums. ~ Timothy Monger, Rovi