Stillwater indie rockers are a bit stranger than local pop-rock stage brethren

A cursory glance at Mayola’s show history and you may think you have them pegged. Frequent shows with pop-rock locals like The Neighborhood and The City Lives imply affability ” high-energy, radio-friendly beats with an indie rock edge.


Singer/guitarist Riley Jantzen, bassist Antonio Laster, keyboardist Bryan Thompson, guitarist Travis Nichols and drummer Madden Humphrey want you to know something: They’re a whole lot weirder than that. So why, then, is Mayola popping up everywhere?

“A lot of it just has to do with the overall energy,” Jantzen said. “Pretty much any of the good bands from Oklahoma capture the crowd. It’s not so much their music a lot of the time. We’re freaking weird, so whenever we get on a show like that, it’s strange, but we know it’s going to work. People like to have fun, and if we’re having fun, they’re going to have fun. We used to try and get with bands like us. We found out there were only one or two in the state of Oklahoma.”

With a catalog reminiscent of everything from folk to country to 1970s rock to klezmer, local bands like Mayola are few and far between. The fivesome will headline an 8 p.m. Thursday show at Norman’s Opolis.

Despite diverse results, Mayola’s songwriting tactics seem pretty straightforward, aided, no doubt, by two key factors ” the first, the dissolution of the Mayola house, former home to everyone in the band.

“I wouldn’t say (living separately) is harder. It may make the music better because, typically, I write the songs. I’ll come up with the lyrics and the groove and all that stuff, and then I’ll come to Madden,” Jantzen said. “It’s good for me to be alone, to write these songs and capture the point that I’m looking for and then bring it in to work on it, as opposed to being in the middle of writing a song, and then all of it kind of hits, and we’re left not knowing what the ending is going to be.”

Factor two is what keeps the band members busy, creatively speaking, outside of time spent working on Mayola.

“All that all of us really want to do is play music, so we never really run out of time to do individual stuff,” Jantzen said. “If it came down to having to put those on hold, we happily would. We all have creativity in different directions. With me writing the majority of the new material for Mayola, Antonio, the front man for Brother Bear, has his own inspirations, and he goes a totally different direction. It’s cool because nobody ever feels like they’re not getting enough input, because they can put their inspiration somewhere else.”

Though the members may scatter their inspiration, it’s likely they collect it from the same place ” the band’s adopted hometown of Stillwater. Though originally from Enid, the boys in Mayola transplanted, a move largely inspired by that city’s burgeoning local music scene.

“It has to do with great bands coming out of Stillwater,” Jantzen said. “We’re all good friends with all those bands, and when we see them doing something great, it motivates us to move harder and faster. At the same time, we have each other’s backs. It’s just a great place to do this.”

Mayola is currently working on the full-length followup to last year’s “Everybody” E.P., which the group recorded at Jantzen’s house.

“We’re about to start finishing up the last demos of the new songs,” he said. “It’s all just kind of happening right now. We’re in the zone.” “Becky Carman

Becky Carman

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