Skating Polly is nonsense.

No. Not the band itself.

Stepsisters Kelli Mayo, Peyton Bighorse, along with Kurtis Mayo (Kelli’s brother) are a power-pop/rock band based out of Olympia, Washington.

Skating Polly evoke all the good things about 90s grunge with an authenticity that other bands reach for, but fail horribly.

Skating Polly the name, though, has no meaning. They took the moniker as it was ‘ironically juvenile.’ You can’t get much more grunge than that.

Recently The Swerve Magazine has a chance to talk with the band about their new EP, “New Trick.” The trio worked with one of the 90s bigger bands, Veruca Salt, more specifically Lousie Post and Nina Gordon.

The Swerve Magazine: You have played with idols like L7, Babes in Toyland and have worked with Veruca Salt on the latest EP. What was it like to work, play and open for such icons of not only 90s grunge but for women in rock in general?

Skating Polly: It’s so incredibly inspiring of course! Being embraced by artists you look up to is an honor. We've gotten to hear some great behind the scenes stories, and we've received lots of helpful advice. Not to mention all the cool music they've turned us onto. When artists you admire turn you onto music, it makes that music stick with you forever too.

SM: Can you talk a little about how Lousie Post and Nina Gordon got it touch with you to work on the new EP? Were you in contact before, did they just reach out?


SP: We had a mutual friend suggest we do a writing session and Louise had heard our music before, so they agreed and once we got the greenlight from them we were incredibly stoked to be on board. None of us knew exactly what was expected from the writing session or if we were even going to release the song/songs we wrote together. We originally just had two days set up in a studio, and they recorded everything as we exchanged bits of songs we'd had forever that we'd never found a home for.


Very quickly we threw together a very scrappy demo version of “Hail Mary.” Working with them came very naturally, and after we had a taste of it, all four us wanted to get back into the studio and flesh out songs properly.

SM: Did you already have the songs written for the EP or were they written by the four of you together?

SP: Written together. From the first time we met, until the time we went in the studio with Brad Wood, we had a group text going where we send ideas back and forth and build off of each other. Louise sent us “Black Sky” as a phone demo pretty much in completion. She said she heard it in a dream and she woke up and wrote it before it left her. The only thing we ended up changing was the bridge and the cadence of a few lines here and there. And of course we had to come up with drums, and we added layers and back-up vocals.


“Hail Mary” went through many stages to get to where it is now, and it was well worth it. I'm so incredibly proud of that song and every track on it. “Louder in Outer Space” started with a beautiful verse of Peyton's that she'd had forever and Nina was able to give us a kick ass chorus riff. So then I spit-balled a chorus melody that Pey built off with that really creative vocal dip, and Louise helped perfect it. Then we all through trial and error came up with this fun, unusual structure for it.

SM: You can hear some Veruca Salt on “The Big Fit” what was it like to collaborate with Post and Gordon?

SP: Surreal and very exciting. I couldn't take my eyes off them. I would get so excited when Nina would drop a harmony over one of my melodies or a couple of times me and Louise recorded low back up together. Singing with your heroes! Doesn't get much better than that.


It was amazing to watch the wheels turn in their head and watch them communicate because just like Peyton and me, they have their own phrases and words that stands for different things musically. Their go-to reaction for where a song should move could seem so brilliant and out of this world to Peyton and me and they'd be like "or is that too obvious?" They always made me and Peyton feel comfortable and never talked down to us, they immediately treated us like peers and made the whole experience a blast.

SM: Can you talk about the beginning of the band, specifically the young age you both were when it started? Did you now that music was something that you were born to do?

SP: When we met, neither of us knew how to play instruments, but we ended up falling so hard for so many of the same bands that we decided to start writing songs. We wrote very stripped down and minimalistic songs at first, and we didn't care that we could only play a handful of chords because we loved writing and playing so much.


I don't know if I was born to do it. I was very fortunate to be raised on so many of my favorite bands and in a family that encouraged me to go for every artistic outlet I felt like. Very early on I fell in love with singing and writing melody so when I met Peyton, and we started fleshing out songs I don't think I ever thought we'd stop. I was just like "Oh yeah, this is gonna be my life."

SM: How important was Peyton coming into the family for the band to happen?

SP: I don't know that I ever would've found someone I bonded so well with artistically and mentally. We go through all the same music phases together; we love the same books as each other, we binge the same movies and TV, we're affected by the same weather. I mean we get along so well, but then we are also very different which provides a very nice yin & yang tranquility.


Peyton has one of the most unique voices I've ever heard. She never mimics others; she's just Peyton, and her voice keeps finding new ways to grow and improve. She also has a very natural knack for melody, and yet one different enough from mine that it makes our team work always push each other towards something new. She's the most reliable band mate you could ask for, too. You can count on her to keep up with the billions of things you have to take care of and keep track of in a touring band. I wouldn't be me without her. And there certainly would be no Skating Polly.

SM: Each album seems like a natural evolution of the band, is that something that has happened naturally or has it been something you’ve worked at?

SP: We work very hard to make every record better than the last and to improve every element of our musicianship. And we want it all to be tasteful and always put the song first. If we ever get to the point where we can play ZZ Top songs flawlessly, I promise we won't start packing our songs with loads of solos and showy frills. Like Brad Wood said to me,"I like clever, but I don't like 'too clever.'" To me, too clever is when the sake of the song is to show off your technical skills and putting the actually crafted second.


SM: How has Kurtis Mayo coming in as a permanent drummer changed the band?

SP: I mean it's opened up so many doors for our songs. Working with Nina and Louise made us realize the importance that layers can hold, and now with three members, we can have layers with the guitars, and we can highlight the dynamics better. When we get loud, it is now louder; when we get quiet, it is now quieter. Kurt's always showing us our new favorite song or telling us the juiciest bit of music trivia. He's always cracking us up, and he's always getting into the best conversations with our fans at the merch table. We are very lucky to have him.

SM: How has the move to the home of grunge affected the band, especially after leaving Oklahoma City?

SP: It’s giving me different experiences to write about. But other than that and the fact that we're playing more shows in the Northwest I don't think it's really affected our band much, certainly not our sound.

SM: L7, Babes in Toyland, Veruca Salt, who else would you like to work with?

SP: Exene Cervenka wrote some lyrics that she thought we could make a song out of, so we've been working on that. I think she's going to add some vocals to it too. I would really like to work with Charly Bliss. We have a lot of people that we look up to and love. There's also a band in Cleveland called Obnox, and they make really great music. I think we could create cool songs together.


There's a lot of other people too. We actually discuss that kind of stuff all the time, like who we should do a tour with, or maybe work on a song with. I really can't wait to see Charly Bliss live. I've read interviews and talked to their lead singer Eva a couple of times. We're actually seeing and meeting them tomorrow in Brooklyn.


Need more Skating Polly? Check out the photos and review of their show at The Smiling Moose on May 16 here