Blending artful textures and eclectic instrumentation with the force and emotional impact of a full-on rock band, the Old Ceremony are fronted by singer and songwriter Django Haskins, who was born in Florida to a musical family. Haskins played in a variety of teenage garage bands before leaving Florida to study literature, and then lived in China for a spell, where he taught English. After returning to America, Haskins settled in New York City and formed Django & the Regulars, who released three albums between 1998 and 2003. By the time the third Regulars album, Overeasysmokemachine, was released, Haskins had pulled up stakes and moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where he began collaborating with a handful of noted local musicians in a combo called International Orange, who cut an EP and toured extensively in the South before going on extended hiatus in 2005. That same year, Haskins began experimenting with the idea of forming a group that embraced a different variety of musical voices, and he assembled the first edition of the Old Ceremony (named for Leonard Cohen's 1974 album New Skin for the Old Ceremony).
Releasing their self-titled debut disc through Haskins' own Alyosha Records label, the Old Ceremony's album and frequent East Coast concert dates drew enough positive press to attract the attention of the independent sonaBlast! label, which issued the band's second LP, Our One Mistake, in 2006. After a number of personnel shifts, the Old Ceremony settled into a firm lineup -- Django Haskins (lead vocals, guitar), Matt Brandau (bass), Dan Hall (drums), Gabriele Pelli (violin, keyboards), and Mark Simonsen (organ, vibraphone) -- by the time they recorded their third full-length set, 2009's Walk on Thin Air. A year later, they returned with Tender Age. In 2012, the Old Ceremony delivered their fifth studio album, Fairytales & Other Forms of Suicide via Yep Roc. The band continued to perform live in brief spurts over the next couple of years, mostly in the eastern U.S., and in 2014, Haskins took part in the Big Star tribute Big Star's Third with Chris Stamey of the dB's, Mike Mills of R.E.M., Jon Auer of the Posies, Big Star's Jody Stephens, and more. Featuring guest spots by Mills on two tracks, some arrangements by Stamey, and production by jangle pop luminary Mitch Easter (also part of Big Star's Third), the cinematic Sprinter was released in July 2015. ~ Mark Deming