Committed to a love of alt music, young Norman rockers of Skating Polly run laps around older bands

Skating Polly with Yellow Fever and Luna Moth
8 p.m. Monday
113 N. Crawford, Norman
$7 door
$9 under 21

A lot of people tout Nirvana and Neutral Milk Hotel as their favorite bands, but not many of those people are 10-year-old girls.

Nirvana, The White Stripes, Regina Spektor and Hole were the names Kelli Mayo rattled off. Her 15-year-old friend and bandmate, Peyton Suitor, added Neutral Milk Hotel and Elliott Smith.

“We’ve always had good taste … or at least I’ve always had good taste in music,” Mayo said with a giggle.

The girls are very close, despite their five-year age gap. Mayo and Suitor are practically sisters, bonded through a love of listening to ” and making ” music at an age where most of us were still getting a grip on the ABCs.

“I think when I was in kindergarten, I already knew about The Beatles,” Mayo said. “I remember we had this fake, learning song called ‘Seven Days,’ and I asked, ‘Did The Beatles rip off this song ” or did they rip off The Beatles?'”

The girls’ parents are largely to be thanked for the duo’s immense knowledge and impeccable taste. They got them into music lessons at a young age. Suitor picked up the violin, while Mayo learned music theory on the piano.

Mayo and Suitor have since learned ” and are still in the process of learning ” how to play a handful of instruments each. Both can sing, play the drums and basitar ” a normal six-string guitar laced with only a few bass strings ” along with several other instruments. They are both self-taught and somewhat limited to the basics of each instrument. But the pair is eager to learn, and now have the perfect outlet for practice: Skating Polly.

Suitor had tried on several occasions to form bands with classmates, but they never came to fruition. Mayo and Suitor finally seemed to have things in place to form a band with a friend, but when she didn’t turn up for practices, they decided the two of them would be enough.

Since that Halloween evening, they’ve been practicing nightly, in a makeshift space in Mayo’s living room.

“This … ” Mayo said, pointing at the setup. “Not every 10-year-old girl has this.”

Skating Polly’s music has taken on a rowdy, grungy girl vibe, in the vein of Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney. The girls alternate instruments, vocals and writing duties with each song. And yes, Mayo and Suitor write all of their own songs, and they stays true to their punk roots.

“The song ‘Banana Blitz’ came from me being really mad at (Suitor’s) brother one day,” Mayo said. “I told her to write a song about a big jerk. It turned into a song about bleeding and car dealers.”

Last month, Skating Polly got its first chance to step out of the garage, er, living room, opening for local indie four-piece Feel Spectres. The duo hopes to book more shows and will finish recording its debut album by year’s end.

“Right now, we are recording with Dad,” Mayo said.

Of course, the girls do get some mixed reactions from people when they tell them they are in a punk band. Mayo said some people assume there must be an adult doing the work for them, while others they tell have nothing but words of support and advice.

But when the girls told their friends about the new band, most of them were in disbelief.

“Some people don’t believe me at my school, but they believe this one kid who has played a show with Lady Gaga, talks to Green Day on his cell phone every day, apparently, and flames shoot out of the bottom of his guitar every time his strums it … which would be annoying, I think,” Mayo said.

“When I told my friends, they didn’t believe me at first, but now they think it’s really cool,” Suitor said. “They were most surprised that I was in a band with a 10-year-old.”

Still, some of the kids think it’s odd for them to play in a band together, and listen to the music they do.

But they tend to think the same of them.

“They think it’s weird. Normally, kids our age listen to stuff like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry,” Suitor said, to which Mayo made a big, exaggerated gagging sound. “Yep, that pretty much sums my feeling up, too.” “Joshua Boydston | Photo/Adam Kemp

Joshua Boydston

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