Most girls ages 13 to 17 would give up their texting privileges for a month for a brief meet-and-greet with a Justin Bieber or a Taylor Swift.
But Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse aren't most girls. You might say they travel to the beat of a different drum. Or drummers.
For example, Kelli, 13, and Peyton, 17, were thrilled to meet a couple of their own idols at the South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas, last month.
“Lori Barbero from Babes in Toyland!” Kelli marveled. “She's the drummer. That was crazy because Babes in Toyland is one of my biggest inspirations ever. I love Babes in Toyland so much. Like, I've been listening to that record ‘Fontanelle' over and over and over again, so that was pretty cool.”
“That was awesome,” Peyton agreed. “And then we met Jody Stephens, the drummer from Big Star. Yeah, that was so cool. Like, before a few days ago I hadn't listened to a lot of Big Star but I started listening to them and it was really cool.”
Together, these Edmond stepsisters form the punk-rock-pop duo Skating Polly, drawing inspiration from sources as disparate as the aforementioned Babes in Toyland, Johnny Cash, Bikini Kill and Neutral Milk Hotel.
Their first performance of one of their original songs was in front of an audience of 20 other kids at a Halloween sleepover in 2009, Peyton banging out the beat while Kelli sang and fingered her “basitar,” a homemade instrument consisting of a mini guitar strung with two bass strings, designed by her father to fit her small hands.
Since then, appreciation of their music has spread beyond that living room full of friends, making fans out of such musical luminaries as Sean Lennon, Holly Golightly, Kelly Ogden of the Dollyrots, Holly Golightly, Exene Cervenka of the seminal Los Angeles punk band X, and fellow Okies the Flaming Lips.
In fact, Skating Polly's sophomore album “Lost Wonderfuls” — released Tuesday on iTunes, due out April 16 on CD from the SQE label — was produced by Cervenka and mixed by Lips drummer Kliph Scurlock, both of whom are big supporters of the girls and their music.
Scurlock even gave the girls one of his own custom-made drum kits as a gift.
“They're like this really cool, clear color, like they're orange,” Kelli said. “They're really pretty and they have this heavy kind of ominous sound that goes really well with our music.”
“They sound really awesome,” Peyton agreed. “And there's two floor toms instead of two rack toms, so I think that adds a lot to the heaviness.”
Scurlock first caught Skating Polly's act in a video produced by the same outfit that creates the Flaming Lips videos, Delo Creative. The drummer started catching their live shows, got hooked on their music and their teen spirit, and began spreading the word about them.
“He's been really supportive,” Kelli said. “And (Flaming Lips lead singer) Wayne (Coyne) has also been really supportive. Wayne even put one of our stickers on the back of his car.”
Allan Vest, of the Norman-based Starlight Mints, has also taken an interest in the girls, offering his services as a music teacher.
But it was Cervenka who became the girls' first champion. Cervenka first met the girls when Peyton's mom, Amber Bighorse, brought them to the L.A. singer's tour stop at the Conservatory in February 2010.
“It was winter and there were some people there, but not a lot,” Cervenka recalled in a 2012 interview with The Oklahoman. “It was a pretty gloomy event, and cold. And then there they were — Peyton and Kelli and Mom. And they were just so positive, excited, happy, glowing with joy to be there, that it really changed the whole night for everybody.”
Peyton and Kelli had grown up on their parents' records, which ranged from the Beatles to '70s punk and '90s grunge, and X was one of the girls' all-time favorites.
Cervenka exchanged email addresses with the girls and urged them to send her some of their music.
Cervenka liked what she heard — original, stripped-down riot grrrl punk, with a sense of melody and lyrical smarts far beyond the girls' tender years.
Fourteen of those songs can be heard on Skating Polly's first album, “Taking Over the World,” recorded at home with Kelli's dad, David Mayo, producing, and released in 2010 on the Norman-based Nice People Records. Pretty amazing stuff for a couple of schoolgirls who are self-taught on basitar, guitar, piano and drums (and Peyton also plays ukulele).
The X frontwoman liked them so much that she offered to produce their second album.
“She was really helpful on it and really supportive,” Kelli said. “ ... And she told us really cool stories about old punk legends.”
Since then, Skating Polly has filled opening slots for acts as prestigious as Band of Horses, Mike Watt, Pierced Arrows (formerly Dead Moon), Holly Golightly and Deerhoof. They also played a whopping seven shows in March at SXSW.
And on April 29, they will open for the Flaming Lips at the Egyptian Room in Indianapolis.
“There's nothing I'm more excited about right now,” Peyton said. “That's the biggest thing happening with us, I think. I really can't wait to open up for them. They have such an exciting and diverse fan base. ... We opened for Band of Horses and some people liked our music but most were just like really excited about Band of Horses. I think at the Flaming Lips show they'll be really open to the idea of Skating Polly.”
Obviously, a lot of people already are.