Local Current Blog

Fathom Lane’s new album, “Asilomar,” takes on many meanings

Fathom Lane's Michael Ferrier, photographed by George Roedler

In the four years since Fathom Lane released its second album, a lot has changed. After releasing two albums in its first two years, members of the band took some time to focus on their own lives, and the group replaced its original guitarist and rhythm section with a new group of musicians.

But even as life went on, Fathom Lane continued to work on new material. For the band’s front man, Michael Ferrier, it was important to him to take his time creating new songs and not rush through the creative process.

“I really had to learn how to be patient and not just do the expeditious thing to get the thing done,” He said. Because I don’t really have a deadline other than my own set deadlines and so I really just had to be patient and continue to do it the right way.”

On Fathom Lane’s new album, Asilomar, it’s clear that Farrier’s patience paid off.

The album is one that’s worth sitting quietly and listening to, with the songs taking listeners on a journey through a wide range of life experiences. Also on the album are covers of “Hung Up and Overdue” by Tom Petty and a darker take on John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” which brings out the regret in the lyrics. Longtime Fathom Lane co-vocalist Ashleigh Still contributes harmonies throughout the record, and with additional guest appearances by local musicians like John Munson on upright bass and John Mark Nelson on the accordion in “Zero,” it’s clear Ferrier wanted to change things up a little bit. What really makes the album pop are the string arrangements composed by Cory Grossman and played by the Laurels String Quartet, which add more emotion and warmth to the songs.

The inspiration and title for the album comes from the time Ferrier spent on Asilomar Beach near Monterey, California during a rough patch in his life. He felt like he had drifted away from making music and been cut off from his own community of musicians, but on that day he couldn’t help but be mesmerized by a group of people surfing nearby.

“They kept swimming out and coming back in and it was just like there is no purpose or reason behind what they were doing other than the fact that it brought them joy and it was something that they had to do and they needed to be there,” he said. “And it was obviously a lot of hard work, but they kept swimming out and surfing back in, and I was thinking I need to do that. I need to get back to writing songs and playing music.”

Asilomar is derived from the Spanish language meaning asylum by the sea, and Ferrier thought the name would be a good fit to tell the band’s story.

“I started thinking about the word asylum, it just has so many different meanings; it has the meaning, asilomar, of a safe space, but it can also have negative connotations, like an insane asylum… so I kind of thought that duality was meaningful to the last few years in the band, because we’ve had both sides of life,” he said. “We’ve had awful, terrible things happen in our personal lives, but we’ve also have had some of our most joyful things happen at the same time, and so I just felt like that duality, the double meaning of the word, kind of made sense to the record and also brought me back to that time I was sitting on Asilomar Beach. And now enough people have asked about the name that I think it’s compelling enough where people are curious about what it means, so I’m glad we picked it.”

You can get Fathom Lane’s single, “Fingers and Toes,” as a free download as the Current’s Song of the Day, and the band will be offering free copies of the new album at their release show tonight, Friday, May 26, at the Turf Club (with the option to contribute or make a donation to the ACLU). TABAH and Monica LaPlante will also perform, and Mill City Sound will be at the show, bringing a pop-up record shop with them that will focus on Minnesota music.

Simone Cazares is a sophomore at the University of St. Thomas, majoring in communication and journalism. Originally from Miami, Fla., she survives Minnesota’s cruel winters by immersing herself in the Twin Cities music scene.