Arrah and the Ferns played their final show on a blustery May night in 2008. Storms threatened to cancel the show, which took place in the front yard of Muncie's Village Green Records. When the indie-folk quartet took up their instruments one last time as a band under the protective cover of a tent, winds grasped the poles, furiously shaking them as if to demand a stop to this break-up nonsense.
But the four members of Arrah and the Ferns had decided it was time to move on with their lives. Such is local music. Time in the spotlight can be sweet, but ultimately it's short. In this case, it was a matter of four young musicians whose lives were moving in different directions.
Arrah Fisher and Carl Stovner wanted to take their music to Philadelphia. Dave Segedy was studying art at Indiana University. They considered replacing members, but Segedy had said early in the band's existence that if Arrah and the Ferns were ever going to be anything, the same core group of members had to be involved. Without Fisher, Stovner or Segedy, there would be no Arrah and the Ferns.
"It's like if the Edge quit U2 and they continued making music as U2," Stovner says. "It wouldn't be the same band."
Now, with some time and distance between them, the band will reunite for a three-day tour of Indiana. On Dec. 2nd, they will take the stage at Earth House. Due to ticket demands, a presale is currently under way. The band will play in Bloomington on Dec. 3rd and wrap up in their hometown of Muncie on Dec. 4th.
Life after the Ferns
Fisher and Stovner arrived in Philadelphia finding struggles and challenges awaiting them. "Neither of us had ever lived right in the middle of a city," Stovner explains. "We had some rough luck. Arrah had some health problems. We were mugged. Arrah worked a lot. We didn't make a lot of music together."
When the duo did perform, they played as Woodlands, a side project Fisher began in Muncie. They played alongside Indiana bands passing through Philadelphia, but Fisher's time was dominated by work and Stovner eventually moved into a poor neighborhood, separating the two and adding additional obstacles to their music making.
"It's a different experience from a small college town," says Stovner. "We went from being big fish in a small pond to being tadpoles in an ocean."
Stovner returned to Council, Idaho in April of this year following the death of his father. A month later he came back to Philadelphia to collect his belongings. Seeing Fisher again was an epiphanic moment for them both, he says.
"That's when we realized we missed playing music. We got caught up in the rat race of Philly. It took me leaving for us to realize we went out there to make music." The two friends would part ways once again. Stovner went back home to help his family out and Fisher left to explore Europe for several months in August.
While making music was a struggle for Fisher and Stovner, Segedy and Joey Patrick - the band's bassist who joined the group nearly a year before the break up - continued to find success in Indiana.
In Bloomington, Segedy met Asthmatic Kitty's DM Stith and began playing drums for him. Segedy accompanied Stith to South By South West and also performed at the recent Asthmatic Kitty showcase at the Indianapolis Art Museum. He also began performing with Prayer Breakfast and The Native Young - two bands with upcoming record releases. Patrick joined up with former This Story front man and band mate Gavin Wilkinson in The Bears of Blue River. The group is currently working on a debut EP.
The idea of a reunion came as a result of Stovner and Fisher's desire to make music together again. Fisher returned to Indiana from Europe in late November and Stovner made his way back to the state around the same time. They decided they would do a Midwest tour as a duo and things fell in place for a three date Arrah and the Ferns reunion. Stovner hopes this will be the catalyst that gets the two friends making music together again.
"We all left each other on good terms," he says. "We just did what we needed to do. It was bittersweet. No one wanted to be done with Arrah and the Ferns. It was cool. We felt we had a lot of potential."
Stovner is excited by the enthusiasm for the reunion and excited to be performing together as a group. "I'm kind of surprised," he says of the fan support. "I've always been surprised by people's response to our music. I always thought what we were doing was special but it's a surprise to see people enjoy it as much as we do."
But along with the enthusiasm fans are showing for the reunion comes trepidation. "What if we sound terrible?" Stovner muses. "There will be little time to rehearse. What if we really disappoint people? What if we are sloppy? The whole reunion idea is almost a little scary."
Tickets for the Dec. 2nd show at Earth House can currently be purchased at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/90014.