I got into riot grrrl in college, but Skating Polly mostly stirs up memories of my first year after college, my first year in Boston. I lived in the town Sylvia Plath grew up in; it wasn't a cool place to live but it was on the ocean and I liked the boring/beautiful grayness of my little oceanside street in wintertime. My roommate was a friend from high school and he smoked a lot of pot and played a lot of video games and sometimes he'd get really stoned on go on these weird cleaning/cooking jags and scrub all our disgusting floors while baking brownies. We listened to so much David Bowie, and I was just getting super-into Mary Timony. There was also a major simultaneous Andy Kaufman obsession at some point.
Anyway: that was the year I started making zines, and Skating Polly has a sweet/creepy way of pulling me back to that I-just-started-making-zines feeling. Listening to Lost Wonderfuls feels like riding an ugly subway train from the ocean into the city on a gross November weekend, not really having anywhere interesting to go, beating up my ears with the song on my walkman, staring out the window at either black nothing or city things, and - above all else - getting all dreamy and stoked on everything I'm going to write about. You couldn't pay me to be 21 again, but I miss the freedom of all that. Lost Wonderfuls restores that sense of possibility and maybe even deepens and intensifies it, which is a very powerful thing for a 35-minute-long record to do.
Also: FULL DISCLOSURE! I wrote the publicity bio for Lost Wonderfuls, a few months back. But really the only important thing to note about that is that writing for a band as rad as Skating Polly was such a gift for me, and ever since then I've been itching for the album to come out so I could tell you all about it. Last year around Christmastime I did a Skype interview with Peyton and Kelli for the bio, and what follows is some of my favorite moments from that convo:
KELLI: Before we put out our first album, we ran into Exene at one of her shows. We played her some of our songs on our cell phone and she couldn’t hear them very well but she gave us her email address anyway. After that we started sending her our demos and eventually she said, "I can record your next album, if that's what you guys want." So we said yes and she ended up producing our album and it was really fun.
PEYTON: We learned so much from her. She wanted to help us make our music as good as it could be but she also wanted us to be true to ourselves. It was insane to work with her 'cause she’s one of our heroes.
KELLI: She has crazy views on things. One time we were in a hotel and she got this Bible out of the drawer and started ripping out pages and writing things in it, like "NIRVANA" and stuff. She doesn't listen to any new music, she stopped listening to new bands in the '90s. I would play her stuff from now that I would think is amazing and she'd just be like, "Nah, you guys are better."
SONGWRITING AND HATING
KELLI: A lot of our songs are about little experiences with people who make us mad, people who annoy us. We try to look at every song as a new story and make each one different, even if the message is still just basically "I hate you."
INSPIRATION & INFLUENCE
KELLI: We like a variety of music. We like rap, we like Public Enemy and N.W.A.
PEYTON: I love the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, the Clash, X, Television. But I like stuff that's not '70s punk too - like Elliott Smith, Neutral Milk Hotel, Perfume Genius, Nirvana, Bikini Kill.
KELLI: We like Johnny Cash a lot, and Dolly Parton.
PEYTON: I really like Dion and the Belmonts.
KELLI: And then also the Beatles, of course.
PEYTON: We identify with riot grrrl not just in our style of music but in our attitude. Even if our style changes, we'll still be riot grrrl because we have the same kind of passion and energy. Riot grrrls are so deliberate with their music and lyrics - they're not trying to cover anything up with wordplay, they just shove it all right in your face.
SWEATPANTS & INTENSITY
KELLI: One of the things people tell us a lot at our shows is that we're authentic, or that we're really raw. A lot of teen girls playing music just want to make it all about being pretty - they put on a bunch of makeup and make their hair crazy. But we'll just wear sweatpants to a show. It's not about dressing up.
PEYTON: A little while ago I watched that video of Elliott Smith performing at the Oscars. He's putting so much into it, you can tell he's completely in it for the music. That's how I want us to be.
KELLI: Or like Nirvana - they're so intense and exciting. And if we're not being intense and exciting and true and real, then what's even the point of showing up?
Here's Skating Polly's new video for "Kick." Like them on Facebook/love them forever.