Skating Polly Learns Some New Tricks

The band stretches their skills with some help from Veruca Salt on their new EP.

When Louise Post and Nina Gordon of Veruca Salt asked Peyton Bighorse, 21, and Kelli Mayo, 17, of the Tacoma band Skating Polly to join them for a songwriting session in Los Angeles, they jumped at the chance… with some slight reservations.

Despite having worked with an impressive roster of icons from Exene Cervenka of X to K Records founder Calvin Johnson, Mayo admittedly had anxiety about spending time in the studio with two women who have informed her musical upbringing so directly. “Sometimes that was really nerve-wracking,” she says. “Here’s two girls that I had on playlists before I could talk!”

The Oklahoma natives, who moved to Tacoma in 2015, have been playing their trademark ’90s-influenced “ugly pop” since Bighorse was 14 and Mayo was just 9. Earlier this year, Mayo’s brother Kurtis, 20, joined them as their new third member on drums.

Their new EP, New Trick, out April 28 via El Camino Media, features three songs they co-wrote and recorded with Gordon and Post. Veruca Salt’s influence is readily apparent: Opener “Louder in Outer Space” boasts an addictive hook cut from the same cloth as “Seether”-era pop, and the dark, brooding “Hail Mary” showcases their knack for writing harmonies. But the raw lyrics and heartfelt ethos are all Skating Polly’s own.

Bighorse and Mayo credit the experience with teaching them a couple of new technical feats they couldn’t perform before and now incorporate regularly (the “new tricks” that earned the record its title), as well as helping them grow as songwriters. “One of the things I learned from them was sometimes the spontaneous thing that falls out of your mouth whenever you are coming up with the melody is the right way to take the song,” says Mayo. “There’s a reason that fell out of your mouth that way… It reminded me that spontaneity is good sometimes.” music@seattleweekly.com

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