105.5 The Colorado Sound & For The Love Of Punk Presents


Skating Polly

Sat, September 9, 2017

8:00 pm

$27.00 - $99.00

This event is all ages

"I remember one night at the Masque, saying to myself at the age of 22… I just paused for a moment in the middle of my drinking and thought, 'This is an amazing thing, you're really lucky to be here right now.' I realized in that moment how special it all was."
-- Exene Cervenka, Jan. 2008

Three decades after the inception of X, one thing is clear: X was not only one of the most influential bands to crash out of the punk movement of the late '70s, but the band's music continues to be sonically groundbreaking today. Songs written during the group's inception are as relevant and inventive in 2008 as they were in 1977.

The fact is, no one sounds like X and no one ever will.

It's not surprising when you consider the group's unique beginnings, which can only be attributed to fate. On the same day with nearly the exact same wording, two want-ads appear in a local music rag. One was sent in by a guitarist named Billy Zoom, the other by bassist who called himself John Doe. Zoom, a rockabilly rebel who'd performed with Gene Vincent, had read a negative review of a band called the Ramones. It said they only played three chords and they played 'em too fast. So naturally, he went to see them. The show was at the Golden West Ballroom in the L.A. suburb of Norwalk in early '77, and as soon as the Ramones started to perform, Zoom realized that, musically, he'd found exactly what he wanted to do with his life. Doe, who was originally from the Baltimore area, was already down with the East Coast CBGB's scene and by the time the two got in the same room together after responding to each other's ads, it seemed it was meant to be. They performed a few shows with various drummers before a poet with no ambition of being a singer would enter the picture.

Doe found her in Venice Beach, at a poetry reading. He liked her poems so much he offered to perform them in his band. The poet, Exene Cervenka, had just moved to town from Florida and she told him, no offense, but if anyone was gonna perform her poems, it would be her, and she soon ended up in the band. Zoom was skeptical about someone's girlfriend being in the band. After they did their first show with Exene, he didn't know exactly what it was she had, but he knew it was magic.

After a succession of drummers, Doe was at the underground punk club the Masque in Hollywood one night, checking out a band called the Eyes, which featured a pre-Go-Go's bass player named Charlotte Caffey. He called Zoom immediately and said he'd found their drummer. Doe told him he played with a parade snare and hit it hard as a hammer. Zoom told him to promise him anything. His name was D.J. Bonebrake and he quickly signed on. The band was now complete, and X would soon emerge from the young punk scene as one of its most successful offspring. The band's early albums, Los Angeles (1980), produced by Ray Manzarek of the Doors, Wild Gift (1981), and Under the Big Black Sun (1982) explored dark love and an even darker L.A. with the unflinching eye of a Raymond Chandler novel. Doe and Cervenka would marry and later divorce, but they'd always remain soulmates. As they released each ensuing album, More Fun in the New World (1983) and Ain't Love Grand (1985), the band continued to grow sonically and politically, fearlessly mixing genres without ever losing its center. As each member went on to explore diverse careers—careers that included acting, art, writing, producing and multiple side projects—X never really broke up, and by the early '90s, the band recorded together again and began playing a series of shows, much to the delight of its hardcore fans.

This spring, X is taking its show back on the road for the upcoming "13x31" tour, and we asked each member to weigh in on the band's past and present and to explain just how exactly they've managed to keep the fire inside.
Skating Polly
Skating Polly
Can you hear that harmony? I can hear it in my sleep. I can hear it even louder
in outer space. – “Louder In Outer Space”

There's a difficult to describe yet timeless quality to certain songs that
transcends genre or era. It's something that you can't fake or contrive and it's
what lies at the core of Skating Polly's music. The duo of guitarist/vocalist Kelli
Mayo and drummer Peyton Bighorse formed in Oklahoma in 2009 when Mayo's
father began dating Bighorse's mother and the duo started writing music
together on instruments they inherited from their parents. They recorded their
debut album Taking Over The World in 2010 and instantly achieved acclaim
from underground music icons like X's Exene Cervenka (who produced 2013's
Lost Wonderfuls and Beat Happening's Calvin Johnson (who produced 2014's
Fuzz Steliacoom.) After the release of 2016's The Big Fit, the group realized
another one of their musical dreams when Veruca Salt's co-frontwomen Louise
Post and Nina Gordon reached out and said they wanted to work with the band.
“I guess a couple of people showed them our music and the next thing we knew
we were flying down to Los Angeles for a writing session with Nina and Louise,”
Mayo recalls. Writing with the alternative icons went so well that the foursome
decided to fully flush out the song they had worked on as well as a couple of
new tracks and the end result is the three-song New Trick EP. “Everything just
came together the best way we could possibly imagine,” Mayo continues. Even
though the duo weren't used to writing with outside collaborators, things instantly
gelled between the foursome, a fact evidenced on these songs. “Nina and
Louise really helped us step outside of our usual way of doing things and
suddenly we were breaking all of these songwriting rules that we didn't even
know that we had,” Mayo adds. “At the same time we were breaking all of their
songwriting rules and I feel like we came up with something totally different than
what any of us had created in the past.”
Produced and mixed by Brad Wood (Liz Phair, Sunny Day Real Estate) the
result is a fully formed collection of songs that sees Skating Polly pushing the
boundaries of their sound without losing sight of the playful dynamic of the band
that has endeared them to fans all over the world. The EP sets the tone out of
the gate with the fuzzed-out pop sheen of “Louder In Outer Space,” takes on a
moody, harmony-rich bent on the melodically minded “Hail Mary” and culminates
with “Black Sky,” an instantly memorable song that shows that Skating Polly
doesn't need distortion or fancy studio trickery in order to craft something that's
instantly memorable. “Nina and Louise have an excellent knack for harmony and
layers and every time we'd start to record the four of us – five if you include
Brad's clever input – kept coming out with more subtle pieces to add,” Mayo
says. “If you listen closely there's a lot of layers to every song that translated in a
very dynamic way as opposed to being overproduced.”
Admittedly the female-driven alternative acts that inspired the band such as
Veruca Salt, The Breeders, L7 and Babes In Toyland (the later of whom Skating
Polly toured with in Europe) aren't typical reference points for most of today's
up-and-coming acts, but maybe they should be. “I think the thing that a lot of
those bands have that Peyton and myself love is that they can be really
aggressive and loud while also being super melodic,” Mayo explains. “This was
the first time we were able to work as a full band and I think it really just opened
up this new level for Skating Polly in the sense that we were able to add other
elements and make things sound bigger than they had in the past,” Bighorse
adds. In that spirit the band recently added Mayo's brother Kurtis who will be
joining them on drums... but in typical Skating Polly fashion there will be plenty
of instrument-swapping between all three members during their live
Speaking of live shows, Skating Polly really need to be seen in a club to fully
grasp what makes them so special. “It can get pretty chaotic when we're playing;
people have said it feels like it could fall apart at any moment but in a good way,”
Bighorse says with a laugh. “We try to make our music honest and engaging
and I think that's what drew us to people like Nina and Louise; we want to pay
homage to the acts that we love while still making sure that it always sounds like
Skating Polly,” Mayo explains. “We really try to make the songs the focus
instead of showing off or trying to flaunt our musical abilities,” adds Bighorse –
and that honesty and optimism is why both legendary musical figures as well as
hardcore fans have gravitated toward Skating Polly's music. The New Trick EP
is an important step in a collective musical journey that's almost a decade in the
making yet is still only getting started. What comes next is anybody's guess.
Venue Information:
Summit Music Hall
1902 Blake St.
Denver, CO, 80208