In the late ’90s, Save Ferris was riding high.
At the forefront of what’s considered ska’s “third wave” of popularity alongside such acts as No Doubt, Reel Big Fish and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Save Ferris produced MTV hits with songs like “The World is Now” and a cover of Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ 1982 single, “Come On Eileen,” both taken from the band’s debut full-length, 1997’s It Means Everything.
Save Ferris would appear as the high school prom band in 1999 teen movie 10 Things I Hate About You, starring the late Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles, with the group moving towards more pop-oriented sounds on their second full-length, Modified, in 1999.
Going through a number of line-up changes heading into the new millennium, the band would eventually call it a day in 2002, with band members branching out into myriad bands and projects, including Starpool, which boasts a multitude of ex-Save Ferris musicians alongside Alan Meade, who’d been part of an early incarnation of No Doubt.
For lead singer Monique Powell, the happy memories of singing with Save Ferris were put in stark relief due to an unexpected health diagnosis.
“In November of last year, I was diagnosed with a congenital disorder that at one point almost forced me to make a choice between being able to walk and being able to sing, because of the nature of the surgery,” Powell revealed during an exclusive phone interview with Radio.com. “The doctors would have had to go through the front of my neck, and I would have lost my ability to sing, but if I didn’t have the surgery, there was a chance I’d no longer be able to walk after a few years.”
“It was a really scary time, and it forced me to reflect on my life and my abilities,” Powell continued. “All of the joy that Save Ferris brought me over the years and the fact that this is my 10-year anniversary of my last show with Save Ferris…I just decided I was going to find a doctor, we’re going to do this right, I’m going to have the surgery and then I’m going to play a Save Ferris show again.”
Powell scheduled the procedure, and came through with a renewed determination to bring Save Ferris back to life.
“January 27 was the surgery. I was hospitalized for about a week. I’ve been in physical therapy for three to five days a week in preparation for this show,” she explained. “It was probably the best decision I’ve ever made, because the response has been overwhelmingly positive, and it’s also given me something to get well for. It’s been an incredible time for me.”
Powell wasted no time in reviving Save Ferris, reaching out to her old bandmates in hopes of starting rehearsals for a July 27 show at the Pacific Amphitheater on the grounds of the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, CA. Opening acts include the English Beat and the Originalites.
Instead of a reunion, Powell says her former band-mates responded by releasing an online statement debunking the July 27 show.
“We feel it is important that fans of the band Save Ferris know that this is NOT a reunion show and the show will NOT include any original or former band member other than Monique Powell,” reads the statement. “We have not authorized Monique Powell to perform under the name Save Ferris and the original and former band members regret any confusion to our fans that may be caused as a result of any misleading statements or marketing materials disseminated by Ms. Powell or any other parties connected to this concert engagement.”
“It’s really a bummer,” Powell mused when asked about the statement. “It was bad, because we made efforts to ask most of the ex-members to play this show, and they didn’t get back to us about it. They just posted this statement. The lies are blatant in it. Them saying they were never asked is obviously not true. They were definitely asked to play the show, and they know it.
“It was sad, but it doesn’t seem to be affecting anything. The response on social media has been overwhelmingly positive,” the singer added. “The tickets are selling really well for the show. Nobody seems to be really caring about any of that. They’re just happy to be able to go to a Save Ferris show, have a great time, relive their youth, bring their kids and show them what all the hype was about. Our fans are grown up now.”