Justin Vernon’s Pre-Bon Iver Band DeYarmond Edison Preps ‘Epoch’ Archival Release

The Wisconsin-born band was also a precursor to Megafaun.

By Andy Kahn Jun 2, 2023 12:05 pm PDT

In 1998 while high school classmates in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Justin Vernon, Joe Westerlund and brothers Phil Cook and Brad Cook formed a band originally known as Mount Vernon. After a few recordings, the group changed its name to DeYarmond Edison (Vernon’s middle names) and though they made some additional impactful records, by 2006 the band had dissolved.

Vernon soon went on to form the influential Bon Iver, while the Cook brothers and Westerland formed the short-lived, psych-folk band Megafaun. Following that band’s demise, Brad Cook went on to become an in-demand producer and session musician, Phil Cook pursued several projects and launched a successful solo career and Westerlund expanded his musical reach logging credits with bands such as Sylvan Esso, Watchhouse and others.

Vernon, Westerlund and the Cooks occasionally reconnected over the years. In 2015, DeYarmond Edison was credited with backing Bruce Hornsby on a cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Black Muddy River” that appeared on the Day Of The Dead compilation album.

Consisting of five vinyl LPs, four additional CDs and 60,000-word essay written by executive producer Grayson Haver Currin, DeYarmond Edison’s all-encompassing Epoch box set arrives via Jagjaguwar on August 18. Available now are early recordings of DeYarmond Edison’s “As Long As I Can Go” and Phil Cook and Vernon’s “Feel The Light.”

Included among the mostly previously unreleased 83 tracks making up Epoch are recordings from the earliest iterations of the group going back to November 1998. There are also recordings from their time in Wisconsin through their collective move to North Carolina in August 2005 and recordings made there before their August 2006 breakup. According to press materials:

At its core, Epoch is also a vast feat of vulnerability, and a testament to the magic that can happen when no one is looking. Many of the 83 recordings are being heard by others for the very first time, accompanied by dozens of previously unpublished photos from backyards and basements, and revelatory conversations with all four band members and numerous others who define the history of DeYarmond Edison. From their true headwaters in turn-of-the-century Wisconsin, to the 2005-2006 era of experimentation and eventual implosion in North Carolina, to the ensuing and celebrated solo careers, the collection fully traces the group’s complex evolution, as the past returns to haunt and heal.

That Was Then, the four-CD component of Epoch, unearths recordings from DeYarmond Edison’s Bickett Gallery residency in North Carolina, as well as a triumphant 2006 show at Wisconsin’s Mabel Tainter theater, where they turned songs like Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties” inside out. After that, the band folded and what immediately followed is documented on Epoch with hazeltons, Vernon’s solo precursor to Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago, and Where We Belong, which combines tapes from the very first Megafaun rehearsal, different DeYarmond Edison reunions, and buried treasures like a cappella covers of obscure folk tunes, and an unheard song Vernon co-wrote with his Raleigh heroes, Ticonderoga.

Along with the aforementioned newly released tracks, also available is a remastered version of “Bones” from DeYarmond Edison’s 2005 album, Silent Signs, which is part of the Epoch box set.

Pre-order Epoch and view the box set’s tracklist here. Stream “As Long As I Can Go,” “Feel The Light” and “Bones” below:

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