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Final Gravity

Save Ferris  [2016] Save Ferris [2016]

'Re:Introducing Save Ferris!'

For those not in the know, Save Ferris is a ska punk band formed circa 1995 in Orange County, California whose name is a reference to the 1986 film 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off.'

The band formed after the dissolution of a number of Southern California bands. With Monique Powell as manager, front person, and co-songwriter, the band began to book shows around Southern California to a great underground response.

Financed by Powell's sister, the band released their debut EP Introducing Save Ferris on Powell's label, Starpool Records, in 1996. They ended up selling close to 20,000 copies of their EP out of the trunks of their cars, with huge support from Orange County independent record shops and fans.

With Powell as manager and lead, and as favorites of KROQ radio's legendary Rodney on the Rock, Save Ferris created a presence on LA's KROQ radio, possibly being the first unsigned band to do this in LA alternative radio history. Later that year, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences gave the band a Grammy showcase award for best unsigned band, earning them a recording contract with Epic Records (SONY).

The band released their debut full-length album for Epic in 1997. It Means Everything featured several re-recorded tracks from the EP, several new songs, and, on Powell's urging, a cover of Dexy's Midnight Runners' "Come on Eileen," which the band released as their first official single, and what was to become their most successful single. The band also released "The World is New" as a single which was featured in the film "The Big Hit" starring Mark Wahlburg.

Winter 1998 saw the departure of their drummer. After a thunderously successful main stage tour with the Vans Warped Tour, the band began writing their follow-up to It Means Everything. The appropriately-titled Modified was released in October 1999. The album saw the band moving away from their ska-punk roots and into pop-punk territory.

Then, between 2004 and 2012 the band broke up, and how! A bad split meant that surviving member Monique could no longer record or tour as Save Ferris, but she fought that ruling ... and eventually won! "It is with great joy that we are able to report that the dispute between the members of Save Ferris that began a few years ago has now been amicably resolved," she said in a recent statement. "Everyone involved has come to a mutually beneficial conclusion that satisfied all parties, and we're happy about the future!"

And so, here in 2016, Save Ferris are officially BACK and even have a new crowdfunding project up on PledgeMusic.com. "Help us create our first record of new music in 15 years," is what the opening statement asks and boy, are there some rather special (along with one rather odd) personal items of Save Ferris memorabilia up for grabs to the fans! Along with signed copies of both the EP CD and a vinyl version of the EP you can find limited edition pin sets, tshirts, posters, chances to join them on stage or on the record, lifetime backstage passes, and even Monique's very own, and unused "ugly wedding dress"! So, trust me when I say, once again The World Is New!

And so, with this brand new PledgeMusic.com project well and truly under way, I sat down with the lovely Monique Powell, and taking it from the top, I first wondered what her reflected thoughts were today on those three musical ventures the band brought out:

Introducing Save Ferris (EP, 1996) - "I was just a opera major at Cal State Fullerton and hadn't told my parents that I was planning on leaving opera to pursue a music career in bands. I remember feeling so brave and connected creatively to something exciting and new."

It Means Everything (1997) - "This album was the most exciting time of my life. We were just signed to Sony records and hearing our songs on the radio and traveling for the first time. Everything was so new and wonderful."

Modified (1999) - "Modified was an interesting experience because we really wanted to try a new sound while keeping our integrity intact. Although some critics slammed the record, I believe, and it is being said to me now that this album had some of our best songs on it. Can you believe it still isn't on iTunes? People write to me about this every day."

With regard that original EP back in 1996, your sister actually financed it, so I was wondering if she was ever paid back?! "My sister believes that she has been paid back in spades," she smiles, broadly.

You ended up selling 20,000+ copies of it out of the trunk of your cars and with the help of Orange County independent record stores, of course. Please tell me a story of a an actual day you yourself were selling this EP cassette out of the trunk of your/a car, and how your verbal sales pitch went! "There was a family-owned record store in Orange County that was a really big deal to us. I can't remember the name I wish I could, but I just remember walking in and asking them if they would listen to the record and I just tried to be as friendly as possible. They ended up being the first store to sell our music and I ended up coming into the record store regularly just to say hi to everybody because they were so nice. they were the first to sell our record."

Save Ferris struck gold when you earnt a Grammy showcase award for Best Unsigned Band through the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which led to a recording contract with Epic Records. Looking back, being that you were managing the band along with singing lead, did you handle it all well - or would you have done things differently today? "Hindsight is always 20/20 and I know that I was so young and I knew so little I just did the best that I could. We all did. I didn't do it all alone, I had help from the rest of the band. That being said I don't know if I would've done anything differently."

Indeed, when that contract was signed, what was the first thing you went out and purchased for yourself as a celebratory gift? "I think I leased my first car. Nothing really that exciting."

In 1997, It Means Everything was my go-to CD to play ... over and over and over again! I couldn't stop from listening to it, every track as good as the one before. For this interview, I am listening to it again now, for the first time in, well, 14 years! And it is still as vibrant, as fresh, as exciting as it was back then! Have you yourself played it recently, all the way through, and how does it hold up to you these days? "I have listened to all the old records time and time again recently as we are preparing for a tour next summer, and every time I hear them I'm filled with the same excitement that I felt the first time. They bring back so many wonderful memories of my youth and memories of the times that I was able to share with the fans and with the band on the road."

Come 2003 and after a final performance from the second line-up of Save Ferris in Culver City, did you already know at the time this latest incarnation of the band was over whilst playing that last set of shows, perhaps? "I didn't know. All I knew was that I would be back and so would Save Ferris."

Between 2004 and 2012, you worked on a lot of other artists' albums, started a new band (The Mojo Wire), and basically kept yourself busy. If asked today to highlight one project that stands out to you today within that timeframe which one would it be and why? "I did a lot of studio work during those years; the Mojo Wire was a lot of fun but I always enjoyed singing on other people's records and ghosting for other artists and meeting other artists and other women in the same field as me through my studio work. I loved walking in and singing as a different character every other day."

Then, just as you announced an appearance as Save Ferris at the Orange County Fair in 2013, some of the other original band members filed a lawsuit against you (which you countered) to have you stop from using the band name Save Ferris on your own. It's been told, on the "always-trustworthy" internet that those following 18 months were some dark days for you - but you finally did win, of course. So, what can you tell us about that time period and the lengths and depths you had to go to to keep the band name yours? "Those were dark months but they were also insightful ones. It forced me to very quickly understand what my true motivations were and where my loyalties lie. To put it simply my loyalties lie with the fans and only the fans. By keeping my focus on what was best for the fans paramount, it allowed me to focus on what was best for the brand as well."

And so, coming full circle, here in 2015 a new incarnation of Save Ferris is releasing a brand new EP of music via Pledge Music. A wondrous sight for all us fans, as your only other EP featured 7 songs, will this one be as equally chock full of musical goodness also, perhaps? "I pray to God this next EP will be as good as our first one. No matter what happens I've had an incredible time making this record so far."

With the Pledge page showing you have already achieved 111% of the goal target required to make the EP, and with 230 days now until its release date, how far into its recording are you? "We are still demoing the new songs. I wrote quite a few songs and I was trying to record all of them so that out of those 20 or so songs I can choose the best 5 to 7 for the EP. Really want to find a great producer but I haven't even started looking yet let me know if you have any ideas," she smiles.

As we're not called Exclusive Magzine for nothing, please tell us a really honest exclusive fact about the EP - something that you've not discussed publicly, in any way, shape or form before now! "Well, with this album I've chosen to go back to the beginning ...!"

Was a Pledge campaign always where you wanted to start in relation to getting the backing to have this EP released, or did you first consult with various record labels, perhaps? "I haven't consulted with record labels regarding this EP only because I didn't want to start out on a label again. I really want the fans to dictate whether or not we were going to have new music. If they didn't want it then it wouldn't be happening. Apparently they want it! So I will bring it!"

Offering up a variety of very special Save Ferris items for all backers - signed CDs, signed posters, signed vinyl records, VIP passes, limited edition tshirts, etc. - you also offered up an "Ugly Wedding Dress" for $3,000 ... and it SOLD!! So, please tell us more about this "ugly" dress and what relationship it had to you/the band in the first place?! "Let's just say I will let the photo of me in the dress do all the talking. the photo is featured on the site. it was the only part of my wedding that made me cry. I spent a ridiculous amount of money having it designed and made only for the reveal the night before the wedding to be a disastrous and horrible one. I ended up buying my actual wedding dress the morning of the wedding off the rack at the mall. It was the best decision I ever made. Thank God someone purchased that dress or I forever would've had an insane amount of violent anger toward the dressmaker for almost ruining my wedding day and keeping the money!"

What can we expect now from Save Ferris, once the EP is out - a tour, inclusive of a date here in Detroit, perhaps? "You know, I love Detroit. Iggy Pop, the Red Wings, etc. If the fans want to see us then the booking agents will follow and then we'll see a tour. As I said with the album I'm letting the fans dictate what happens next. It would be a dream come true to come out and visit everybody again, not just in the United States but abroad as well. I have a lot of catching up to do with our fans."

Your Pledge campaign is also donating some of its proceeds to Ruben Navarro. Please tell us more about who this is and why you have chosen to do this "Ruben is a man that fell into a seemingly impossible situation when he found out he had a brain tumor and no health insurance. As of this week he is finally tumor free but the medical bills have bankrupted them and he still needs lot of aftercare. I found out about him through our guitar player Patrick and it's just a personal cause that we view to be important. It's not a multi-million non profit conglomerate it's just one guy and his family fighting to keep him alive. I know from personal experience what it is like to have medical issues and no insurance. It just isn't right that the people with the money are the ones that get to live while the rest of us bow down and die at the bottom of a system that our money sustains to begin with."

Taking you back, one last time, to 1997, when we first met, and when you look at this photograph of us (attached), what comes to your mind first? "Man was my skin prettier back then!"

And with regard that timeframe, that year, that photograph, that young Mo, how have you changed as a person, as a singer in the preceding 18 years? "Well, with years come age and with age comes knowledge and hopefully with knowledge comes insight bravery and integrity. I've found my grit that's for sure and I work every day on my authentic voice which is far more developed now than it was back then."

With the sad news of the passing of David Bowie, I was wondering how he may have influenced either yourself, personally, or Save Ferris' music, in general? And, is this photo of you in 2001 alongside his star? If so, had you, as they say in the business, slipped and fallen over, perhaps?! "That was a hilarious photo op. Piper Ferguson the photographer who years later is now one of my best friends, was like oh my God we happen to be at Bowie star. I know how much you love him lay down. I said "hell no! I'm not laying down on Hollywood Boulevard" and Piper said do it in the name of Art and for the love of God be brave. So I did and now that he is gone I'm happy that I have a photo of his star and I together."

Finally, and yes we ask everyone this question, we here at Exclusive Magazine LOVE penguins (the birds)! So, do you yourself like penguins also and do you have a story about one growing up re: a zoo tale or a soft toy you might have had as a kid, perhaps? "See photo ... and you're welcome!"

Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk

www.saveferrisofficial.com

www.facebook.com/saveferrisofficial

www.pledgemusic.com/projects/saveferris

www.twitter.com/saveferris_1