We conducted extensive interviews with Bowerbirds and Megafaun during and after their long journey across North America to hear about the interesting experiences in every town they visited. Below, we present an anecdote from each city, a photo of each day’s adventures, and a clip of the music that scored the drive from city to city. From swimming to accordion repairmen and from free jazz to perfect pop, there seemed to be a bit of everything during these six weeks.

Design: Maria Bilinski Shain, Shayne O’Neill, Nathan Golub • Research: Grayson Currin • Photos: Sara Padgett Heathcott, Shaun Sundholm, Helena Price and Tim Lytvnenko for Well Done Media, and Bowerbirds and Megafaun • Poster: Will Hackney

“It’s just been a special tour,” says Brad Cook, who, for the past six weeks, has performed as one-third of Megafaun and one-fourth of Bowerbirds. “We’ve seen a really cool growth happen in both bands.”

He’s talking about musical growth, but from the outside, the growth in both of these Triangle bands could just as easily be seen as that of their national profiles: Both bands took to the highway supporting excellent sophomore albumsBowerbirds’ Upper Air and Megafaun’s Gather, Form & Fly. The crowds, say the bands, seemed to get bigger as word got out. The albums were helping the tour, and the tour was helping the albums. But what might have made this tour most special is the deep-running parallels between both bands: Bowerbirds’ Mark Paulson and Phil Moore are lifelong best friends, just like Megafaun’s Phil and Brad Cook (brothers, too) and Joe Westerlund. Bowerbirds formed from the dissolution of Ticonderoga, the band Paulson and Moore formed after moving to Raleigh from Iowa. Megafaun formed from the dissolution of DeYarmond Edison, the band Phil and Brad Cook and Joe Westerlund formed in their home state of Wisconsin before relocating to Raleigh. Both Bowerbirds and Megafaun have found more success with these current incarnations than in those former bands.

On the road, Paulson and Moore swapped CDs of their teenage bands with Megafaun. “We totally had our mom bring all of our old high school band CDs,” says Phil Cook. “And they had their old high school bandmates burn everything, all their old stuff, onto a CD.

“We didn’t talk for a while, we just drove and listened to it, and met up later and just talked about it.”

“It was pretty hilarious,” says Moore. His band opted for complex indie rock and King Crimson covers.”They were so professional, compared to our band,” he says of the pre-Megafaun outfit Mount Vernon.

Even as the bands’ paths diverged between shows, the camaraderie here is undeniable. Every place the tour lands, says Phil Cook, “It seems like we have some crazy adventure with an old friend of somebody’s.” Bryan Reed

Download PDF of print story and map (9.3 MB)