On a New Box Set, the Symbology That Gave Rise to Bon Iver

A vibrant new box set tells the tale of DeYarmond Edison, the band that preceded Bon Iver and Megafaun

Lots of small cities, even smaller towns, have one of those bands. They pull up at the local bar and wow the few who pay attention. They soundtrack the hook-ups and break-ups of their friend groups in backyards and at bonfires. They’re going to be huge. Most of these bands never made it. DeYarmond Edison, first of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and then briefly of the (still undersung) indie hothouse Raleigh—well, they almost did. Instead, they imploded. The difference between them and the rest is what’s next: From the ashes of DeYarmond Edison rose the shape-shifting emo-psych of Bon Iver and the psych-folk of Megafaun, two of the 21st century’s crucial rock bands. 

The box set Epoch archives this for posterity in five LPs, four CDs, and a deeply intimate and gratifyingly detailed book by the set’s executive producer, the journalist (and longtime friend of the band) Grayson Haver Currin. It all charts childhood buddies Brad Cook, Phil Cook, Justin Vernon, and Joe Westerlund as they quickly transcend their influences and learn—in various combinations of solo and group recordings—who they are and what they can do.

It’s all in the sound. But Epoch offers visions, too. Its book is chockablock with period photos of the band, of course. The complexity of interpersonal relationships finds fascinating form in the set’s graphic design, devised by Secretly Group art director Miles Johnson, Nate Utesch, and Alexa Terfloth. Each period is embodied by its own symbology, arrangements of geometric shapes, and Pantone colors on record sleeves and lyric videos. 

“The shapes were able to define motion and dynamics both individually and with reference to one another,” Johnson says. “Seen in isolation, they communicate certain characteristics, and when seen contextually within a set the communication develops and you can see chronology, change, development, and, in the end, separation.” The design is part Venn diagram, part sound wave, part mandala, part topography, and an elegant solution to tell the story of a momentous ecosystem of talent.

Photography by DL Anderson

(Images courtesy of Jagjaguwar.)

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