Extremes define life. There’s good and bad, day and night, and dark and light. The fun happens in the middle.
Sacramento, CA quartet Cemetery Sun—Josh Doty [singer], Austen Butler [drummer], Elliot Polokoff [guitarist, producer], and Jesse Mancillas [lead guitar]—thrive on merging those extremes. The group’s name nods to their alchemical mixture of alternative, pop, r&b, and even a little electro, yielding a musical concoction that’s as irresistible as it is inimitable.
“Cemetery Sun is where the darkness meets the light,” exclaims Josh. “You might be in a dark place, but you see that light and gravitate towards it. The name meant something to us, because that’s exactly what we would be doing with this band. It also sounds like some shit Batman would say,” he laughs.
Dark Knight-worthy monikers aside, the musicians first came together in 2013. Knowing each other from the same local scene, synergy proved instantaneous. They began to perform regionally and build a buzz in Northern California. Instead of touring exhaustingly, as most burgeoning acts do, they hit the studio—hard. With Elliot serving as an “in-house” producer, the guys penned nearly forty songs, honing their chops in the process.
“We spent an entire year in the studio just writing,” recalls Elliot. “We would crank out three-to-four songs per session. We aimed to make songs that we want to hear with really compelling instrumentals and meaningful lyrics about what we’ve been through.”
That attention to songwriting paid off. In 2016, Mikey Flom—son of legendary LAVA founder Jason Flom—heard “Fake Love” online. Blown away by the band’s inventive and innovative take on pop music (“Edgy and dark but with the same things you hear in a Katy Perry song,” as Austen says), he showed it to his dad. That weekend the group had a deal. Now, “Fake Love” serves as the proper introduction to their self-titled 2016 debut EP for the label.
Threading together spacey production, thick beats, airy guitars, and a hash taggable hook, on “Fake Love,” the track immediately intoxicates.
“I was in a super dark place in my life,” admits Josh. “I was feeling betrayed, and the song felt like the perfect mask. When you go to a party, you get sloshed and do it in whatever style works for you. You become somebody you’re not; or maybe you become the person you’re hiding inside. After that, everything is fake. The next day, you wake up and forget all about it. I was sick of the façade and everyone being malicious in the aftermath. I had to sing about it.”
“It’s such a special song for us,” adds Jesse. “That’s how we got the inspiration for the band name, work on the whole image, and create what we are now.”
In 2016, Cemetery Sun completed its first national tour alongside Vinyl Theater and Finish Ticket. Along the way, they’ve garnered early acclaim from Alternative Press and California’s Submerge Magazine. Now, they’re ready to make a big mark on alternative music.
“This is the kind of band we all dreamed of being in,” Josh leaves off. “It’s a mixture of so many things. It’s nostalgic in a lot of ways. There are emo and alternative vibes. At the same time, it wouldn’t be out of place in the club. It’s who we are.”