Save Ferris’ Monique Powell talks overcoming the past, looking to the future
The band Save Ferris has released its first EP in 17 years, “Checkered Past.” The group is beginning a tour to support its new album and was in Dallas Feb. 16. Singer Monique Powell was kind enough to take some time out and speak to The Daily Campus about all things related to the band.
The Daily Campus: The tour is starting up, is there anywhere you’re looking forward to?
Monique Powell: The new Anaheim House of Blues, because I can’t wait to see what the new venue is like and also home shows are always really fun.
DC: So you started out in L.A.?
MP: Yeah, technically we started in Orange County, which is where I grew up. But I’m originally from Los Angeles and I’ve been living here since 1997. But my mom still lives in Orange County so I still have attachments there.
DC: What I was wondering is, it’s been 17 years since the last Save Ferris album was released. What prompted you to get back in the studio?
MP: In 2012 I was diagnosed with a degenerative disc disorder condition. Basically what had happened was the bones in my neck had disintegrated to the point where it was causing irreparable spinal cord damage and the consensus of the doctors that I consulted was that I needed to have a procedure done to fix my neck or I wouldn’t be walking much longer. The problem with the procedure was that they have to go through the front of the neck. Typically you go through the front of the neck because it’s a lot less risk to the spinal cord, but if they went through the front of my neck I would never have been able to sing again. So, I basically said, “I need to figure this out and find a doctor that’s crazy enough to go through the back of my neck, and if I have this surgery and I can walk and I can sing after I’m going to have another Save Ferris show. I’m going to bring the band back together. And so I found a crazy doctor who went through the back and when I woke up on the first night they had me stand and I couldn’t hold my head up, but I could stand and I could sing. So I was like, “We’re going to do this.” So in 2013 we played the Orange County fair show, which was awesome. It was sold out, and the responses to the shows were so great that I thought the only natural next step would be to release some music. So that’s what we’re doing. I’m just going to keep going until people don’t care about us anymore. If you’re buying tickets and CDs I’m going to keep going ‘cause that means that you’re still interested.
DC: Is it difficult to get back into the creative process after such a long hiatus?
MP: It was, yeah. I mean, I was just so destroyed and damaged. There was just so much painful stuff going on at the time that I just thought, “I don’t know how I’m going to reach deep down inside and find anything to write about that isn’t just like completely desperate and playing the victim and angry.” So it took me a little while to find my footing again. Cause you have to be kind of brave to be a songwriter. Even if you’re just writing about stupid stuff, you kind of have to be brave because it’s an expression of you and you’re putting it out there into the world, and you have to be strong enough to accept what people think about it. So it took me a little while just to get ready for that. Fortunately, I was able to write a bunch of songs and of those songs I chose five that I felt were most exemplary of the different facets and personalities of who I believe Save Ferris is and was.
DC: Do you have any songs that you would say are your favorites of the album?
MP: Each of them has their own likability for me. They each have their own personality and their own process. “New Sound” is obviously the most polished and developed song on the EP and there’s a reason for that. It’s because I wanted to give Save Ferris fans an introduction to who Save Ferris is going to be for a little while.
DC: Do you think the sound of the band has changed with this album or are you trying to get back to the same type of music you guys were doing 17 years ago?
MP: The sound is definitely changing. This EP is a tribute to the past and also and invitation for the future. I wanted to come back after all of these years, I didn’t want to freak people out, like, “Is that Save Ferris?” I wanted to have some songs that were reminiscent of that first EP because that was when I loved Save Ferris the best. But I also wanted to introduce people to the future as well.
DC: So why the name, “Save Ferris?”
MP: We were just all huge John Hughes fans and ’80s movies fans and yeah it just was brilliant. I can’t say I came up with it. I don’t even remember who did but I heard it and was like, “Yes, please!”
DC: So were all the members of the band ready to get back for this album or was there anyone that took a little convincing?
MP: Well, unfortunately, there are no ex-members in this incarnation of “Save Ferris” and it’s not ever really going to be that way. So that’s how it is right now.
DC: The last question I had is one that I ask all of the musicians I talk to. If you have any tips or advice for any aspiring artists out there, who want to be a musician for a living, what would that be?
MP: Get some grit. It took me a long time to find mine and I mean, if you don’t know what grit is you’re going to have to find it and make it your best friend. Because you’re going to have to be tough and you’re going to have to not care what anybody has to say about you. All of the things that you like the least about yourself, people are going to repeat those to your face over and over and over again. So you better learn to like yourself, even your icky bits. You better learnt to like them. Because they’re going to be magnified and thrown back in your face as long as you’re a musician. So get some grit.