DeYarmond Edison - Epoch
“I learned more in that year than I’ve learned in the decade since.”
'Epoch' is the story of DeYarmond Edison: Brad Cook, Phil Cook, Justin Vernon and Joe Westerlund, told as never before. It’s a tale of community, vision, family, and a quartet that wanted to be too good to last. Rendered in maximalist detail, Epoch explores their saga while also telling a more universal tale: it explores and celebrates what everyone else is doing, making and building outside those cities that live under a microscope. It treats “small town shit” with the canonical care it deserves.
+ Box set containing 5xLP, 4xCD, and book, encapsulating the work of DeYarmond Edison.
Scenes, especially the so-called small ones, are stitched together by the friendships and relationships that lock arms to build it. In this way, Epoch is also a friendship fable; “There’s a coming of age when it comes together,” describes Executive Producer Grayson Haver Currin, “and a coming of age when it breaks apart.” The epilogue is nice-to-have – where are they now, and so on – but it’s not the story. The story is the moment, which is the people, which is the friendships, which is the scene, which is the moment.
DeYarmond Edison was the precursor to Bon Iver, Megafaun, and Field Report.
Justin Vernon went on to create Bon Iver. Brad Cook, Phil Cook, and Joe Westerlund formed the folk group Megafaun, and Christopher Porterfield began composing, eventually establishing Field Report.
+ LPs are for five albums;
Silent Signs, hazeltons (precursor to For Emma…), All of Us Free, Epoch, etc., and Where We Belong.
(These last three are previously unreleased and contain original tracklistings plus bonus audio).
+ CDs are live audio captures from a residency at North Carolina's Bickett Gallery and Wisconsin's Mabel Tainter.
+ Download card with bonus online-only tracks.Book (~114 pages) containing stories, photos, archived materials (setlists, lyric sheets, etc.) to document the history of the band.
Today, the story of DeYarmond Edison begins to be told. Formed by Brad Cook, Phil Cook, Justin Vernon and Joe Westerlund, they were a band driven by big dreams and deep bonds – four childhood friends who built a musical connection that was too good to last. In the 17 years that have passed since DeYarmond Edison broke apart at the very height of their collective power, each member has gone on to establish their individual legacy through the indispensable work of projects like Bon Iver, Megafaun and so many more. But before then they succeeded and shattered together: out August 18th on Jagjaguwar, Epoch is a massive and maximalist box set that explores the saga like never before, in unabashed and unabridged detail. Across five LPs, four CDs, and a 60,000-word biography from journalist and executive producer Grayson Haver Currin, the collection not only offers the definitive account of a short-lived group with an outsized impact, but reveals a universal tale of small-town transcendence, coming of age, and collective artistic ambition, even when it became too much to bear.
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.
Within the physical Epoch box, designed over the course of several years by Miles Johnson, Nate Utesch and Alexa Terfloth, each LP is encapsulated with a unique symbol representing the dynamics within the band at that given moment, while color palettes evoke time and place. In addition to Currin’s 114-page, 11-chapter book, every album comes with a corresponding essay that illustrates the context and events that helped create that specific body of music.
Much of the first of Epoch's five LPs, All of Us Free, was released decades ago in tiny physical editions, if at all. Two of those songs, one entirely unreleased, are now available on digital platforms – DeYarmond Edison’s “As Long As I Can Go” and Phil Cook and Justin Vernon's “Feel The Light." Spanning November 1998-July 2005, All of Us Free brings DeYarmond Edison back to its earliest iteration, as a group of Eau Claire high schoolers who called themselves Mount Vernon. Writing about the idylls of Wisconsin’s Chippewa Valley — in a moment dominated by Bill Clinton and Dave Matthews Band’s Crash – they blended funk, rock, reggae and jazz with big-stage gumption and outsized dreams. Two albums later, Mount Vernon’s utopian bubble burst and the band became known as the DeYarmond Edison Quartet, sputtering to life with a debut LP they self-recorded in the nude at a local Presbyterian church. With songs such as “As Long As I Can Go,” the set of heartland folk-rock showcased a burgeoning sense of restraint, and a blooming weirdness that would soon take shape.
Epoch also includes DeYarmond Edison’s second studio album, Silent Signs, remastered and pressed to vinyl for the first time. On highlights like “Bones,” they can be heard coming into their own, finishing the record just weeks before they faced a decision to either stay in Wisconsin and settle into old patterns, or leave town to try and grow into the more interesting band they imagined they could be.
DeYarmond Edison arrived in their adopted home of Raleigh, NC on August 1, 2005, and days later would meet the person who would become their biggest fan, Grayson Haver Currin. They broke up in August 2006, but as Justin Vernon once said, “I learned more in that year than I’ve learned in the decade since.” During twelve months of intense study and a monthly residency at the region’s best art gallery, each band member reinvented themselves through their own disparate musical disciplines – be it grindcore or gospel, free jazz or phase pieces – in an attempt to outrun folk-rock doldrums and Midwestern melancholia. Brad Cook studied minimalism and electronics; Phil Cook dug deep into blues and bluegrass; Joe Westerlund expanded his improvisational skills and spontaneous composition; Justin Vernon tried out new and novel modes of vocals, falsetto included. The explosion of ideas were captured on the Epoch EP, which long lurked in a quiet corner of MySpace, but is finally celebrated in all its brilliance in the box set’s expanded version, Epoch, etc.
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.
In the wake of DeYarmond Edison’s sudden dissolution, a decade of powerful music has emerged from each band member, creating an enduring impact even if you've never heard of them until today. So much more of that story will continue to be unveiled.
Release Date: 1st September 2023
Format: LP+CD Box Set
Shipping & Delivery
Drift gladly ship all items Worldwide using Royal Mail Tracked® and DHL services. There is a shipping calculator available in the basket. Read More
Click & Collect
Available on all orders from Drift. Select the Click & Collect option during the checkout process. Read More.
UK Free Shipping
We offer free delivery on orders of £85 and over, sent within mainland UK. To qualify for free delivery, your order will be sent as one dispatch. Read More.
Global Shipping & Tax