Formed in 1995, Save Ferris remains one of the seminal and most beloved bands from the third wave of ska. The group’s Orange County home was fertile ground for a thriving music scene, with punk, rock, and ska emerging from the region. Save Ferris blended the best elements of these sounds to help bring the region’s sound to the world.
The group’s humble beginnings saw them play house parties and local venues, powered by Monique Powell’s high-octane vocals. Save Ferris’ live show instantly became a hit. As the word spread, the band got a much-needed boost. Legendary KROQ DJ Rodney Bingenheimer got a hold of the band’s self-released album. He played their cover of Dexys Midnight Runners “Come on Eileen” on his Rodney on the ROQ show and the response was overwhelming. Soon thereafter, Kevin Weatherly picked up the song and it was added to the legendary taste-making rock station’s rotation. All of this happened independently without a record label and with Powell serving as the singer and band manager.
Major labels started noticing the buzz that was emanating from Orange County. In 1996, the band won a Grammy showcase award for best unsigned band, and with Epic Records’ David Massey as one of the judges, Save Ferris would sign with the label. Epic re-released the Introducing Save Ferris EP and, in 1997, Save Ferris unleashed their debut album, It Means Everything. Save Ferris toured the world for the better part of the next six years,with 1999’s Modified released during that time.
In 2003, the band went on a hiatus. Starting in 2004, Powell switched gears and used her vocal talents to become a go-to studio musician. She appeared on albums for The Used, Goldfinger, Foxy Shazam, Lost Prophets, Mest, and Hilary Duff, among many others. Slowly, however, Powell started having health issues. In 2015, after years of painful back issues, she underwent a risky procedure to fix her broken neck that could have damaged her greatest musical weapon: her vocal cords. Ahead of the procedure, Powell made a promise to her father, who had been begging her to return to the stage: if the surgery was successful, she’d bring back Save Ferris. And it was a success.
That year, Powell, with a new cast of characters, reformed Save Ferris. The hype surrounding the band was massive. After months of rehabilitation, Powell brought Save Ferris home to Orange County where it played a sold-out show at the Pacific Amphitheater in Costa Mesa. Another giant show at the Santa Monica Pier, with over 20,000 people in attendance, was put out on vinyl. These raucous shows proved that the band wasn’t just back, but ready to roar.
Through a crowd funded campaign in 2016, Powell and her bandmates went into the studioto record a new EP. Titled Checkered Past, the collection was released the following year, and produced by John Avila of Oingo Boingo. The EP featured an appearance by Neville Staple of The Specials, one of Powell’s favorite artists.
Following Checkered Past’s release, Save Ferris played the entire 2017 Warped Tour on the main stage, headlined shows, and played festivals across the world.
The future is as bright as it has been for Save Ferris in a long time. Powell scrapped arecord she wrote prior to the pandemic and is currently at work on the first new Save Ferris album in nearly two decades. The band recently packed the House of Blues in Anaheim, playing in front of fans of all ages. Powell is the centerpiece of the action. Her dazzling on-stage presence continues to wow audiences and the band’s energy is infectious. Save Ferris are out to prove that they’re no nostalgia act, with their best days still ahead of them.