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Watch Megafaun, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and the Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle cover “Friend Of The Devil” by the Grateful Dead at a recent show.
Based in Durham, North Carolina, Megafaun was built by brothers Brad and Phil Cook and fellow Eau Claire, Wisconsin native Joe Westerlund. The trio, plus longtime friend Justin Vernon (a.k.a. Bon Iver), made the cross country move together from WI to NC as the band DeYarmond Edison, ultimately splitting in 2006. Megafaun was born from those ashes and proceeded to record the remarkable album Bury the Square in 2007. The band found a home on the road, collaborating with friends (they also joined Akron/Family and Dreyblatt as backing band) and developing an American musical language that is exquisitely translated by 2009’s Gather, Form & Fly.
Brad, Phil, and Joe have been playing in bands together since 1997, after meeting at jazz camp in Wisconsin as teenagers. With the end of DeYarmond Edison, a paradigm-shift was imminent.” Brad and I left our primary instruments behind and picked up secondary ones. We booked a seven day tour without having written any songs,” said Phil, revealing the seeds of the improvisational spirit that both Megafaun and their fans now cherish and exalt. “We’ve become song writers collectively and individually through the birth of this band,” added Joe, “and Gather, Form & Fly marks a huge growth and change in our thinking about time and song form.”
Gather, Form & Fly rings out in its honesty to its makers and, thus, to its listeners — both on wax and on stage. Phil, Brad, and Joe move with awareness of their every move, acknowledging in near-unison that this album shares Bury the Square’s broad stylistic and emotional palettes — group percussion, cacophony, drone, and folky narration will not disappoint — but also reveals sounds and words that have been, somewhat silently, with them all along. There are the moments, present in every song, that will turn heads toward speakers, turn eyes toward the sky, and turn all notions of music on their sides, if just for one shimmering and genuine moment. And then, almost anywhere this Summer, you can go see Megafaun live… and hear it all again, for the ﬁrst time.