Sat · May 25, 2019
Doors: 6:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm
Gateway City Arts
$30 - $35
This event is minors under 18 with parent or legal guardian
The Bistro at Gateway City Arts is open until 10pm on show nights, during these events there is counter service and we are unable to take reservations. Due to the high volume of patrons entering for the show, we will be serving a special event menu. To find out more about our menu and dining hours, visit gatewaycityartsbistro.com or call (413) 650-0786.https://www.dspshows.com/event/1833284/
The fact is, no one sounds like X and no one ever will.
It’s not surprising when you consider the group’s unique beginnings, which can only be attributed to fate. On the same day with nearly the exact same wording, two want-ads appear in a local music rag. One was sent in by a guitarist named Billy Zoom, the other by bassist who called himself John Doe.
Zoom, a rockabilly rebel who’d performed with Gene Vincent, had read a negative review of a band called the Ramones. It said they only played three chords and they played ‘em too fast. So naturally, he went to see them. The show was at the Golden West Ballroom in the L.A. suburb of Norwalk in early ’77, and as soon as the Ramones started to perform, Zoom realized that, musically, he’d found exactly what he wanted to do with his life.
Doe, who was originally from the Baltimore area, was already down with the East Coast CBGB’s scene and by the time the two got in the same room together after responding to each other’s ads, it seemed it was meant to be. They performed a few shows with various drummers before a poet with no ambition of being a singer would enter the picture.
Doe found her in Venice Beach, at a poetry reading. He liked her poems so much he offered to perform them in his band. The poet, Exene Cervenka, had just moved to town from Florida and she told him, no offense, but if anyone was gonna perform her poems, it would be her, and she soon ended up in the band. Zoom was skeptical about someone’s girlfriend being in the band. After they did their first show with Exene, he didn’t know exactly what it was she had, but he knew it was magic.
After a succession of drummers, Doe was at the underground punk club the Masque in Hollywood one night, checking out a band called the Eyes, which featured a pre-Go-Go’s bass player named Charlotte Caffey. He called Zoom immediately and said he’d found their drummer. Doe told him he played with a parade snare and hit it hard as a hammer. Zoom told him to promise him anything. His name was D.J. Bonebrake and he quickly signed on. The band was now complete, and X would soon emerge from the young punk scene as one of its most successful offspring.
The band’s early albums, Los Angeles (1980), produced by Ray Manzarek of the Doors, Wild Gift (1981), and Under the Big Black Sun (1982) explored dark love and an even darker L.A. with the unflinching eye of a Raymond Chandler novel. Doe and Cervenka would marry and later divorce, but they’d always remain soulmates. As they released each ensuing album, More Fun in theNew World(1983) and Ain’t Love Grand (1985), the band continued to grow sonically and politically, fearlessly mixing genres without ever losing its center. As each member went on to explore diverse careers—careers that included acting, art, writing, producing and multiple side projects.”
The album is the culmination of a very busy year in which the band played over 100 shows, performed at major festivals like Riot Fest & The Capitol Hill Block Party, toured Europe with Kate Nash and reunited with Cervenka for two separate legs of X’s 40th anniversary tour. Speaking of Cervenka, the musical legend also co-wrote the song “Queen For A Day” with the band, a song that sees the trio stretching out both musically and lyrically. “It was great having both Peyton and Kurtis to consult with this time around and writing with Exene was also amazing because she’s one of our biggest influences,” Kelli explains. “We went into the studio right after a lot of touring, so we were pretty tight. We kind of internalized the last year, with the world going crazy and our personal lives taking their own weird turns and we let the songs be guided by that.” she continues. “This album sounds very Skating Polly, but our music’s evolved enough that you wouldn’t mistake any of these songs as being from a past record. The songs are definitely more complex.”
For The Make It All Show the group once again teamed up with producer Brad Wood (Liz Phair, Sunny Day Real Estate). “We have a really great rapport with Brad and this was definitely my favorite experience making a record so far,” says Bighorse. “Brad always knew how to capture the right tone because he understood the overall feeling we were going for.” Kelli agrees saying, “The record wouldn’t be what it is without Brad. He’d set something up and be like “this might work” and it would be perfect.”
Admittedly the female-driven alternative acts that inspired the band such as Veruca Salt, X, The Breeders, L7 and Babes In Toyland (the later of whom Skating Polly toured with in Europe) aren't typical reference points for most of today's up-and-coming bands, but maybe they should be. “The thing that we identify with in a lot of those bands is that they can be really aggressive and loud while also being super melodic,” Kelli explains, adding that the new dynamic in the band helped them be more expansive when it came to their sound and arrangements. “Everything happened very smoothly when Kurtis became part of the band. It just felt natural having him there and writing with him.” In typical Skating Polly fashion, the trio will still be switching instruments live, something that’s become a hallmark of their performances and one that opens up more possibilities with the additional instrumentation on The Make It All Show.
Speaking of live shows, Skating Polly really need to be seen in a club to fully grasp what makes them so special. “It can get pretty chaotic when we're playing. People have said it feels like it could fall apart at any moment but in a good way,” Bighorse says with a laugh. “We try to make our music honest and engaging and I think that's what drew us to people like Nina and Louise or Exene; you can probably guess a lot of the acts that we love, but we’re able to keep making music that always sounds like us,” Mayo explains. “We really try to make the songs the focus instead of trying to flaunt technical musical abilities,” adds Bighorse – and that honesty and optimism is why everyone from legendary musical figures as well as hardcore fans have gravitated toward Skating Polly's music. The Make It All Show is the most fully realized work by Skating Polly yet and hints at an even brighter future for one of rock’s most promising acts.
Gateway City Arts
92 Race Street
Holyoke, MA, 01040