Reggae at the park  

  

  
  
  
 

Interview with "MONIQUE POWELL"

OF "SAVE FERRIS"

Q: What have been your best experiences on this tour? 

MONIQUE: Probably opening for David Bowie in Los Angeles. That was great. We have been able to open for some really amazing bands. I think one of the great experiences is going to come is headlining the Paladium back home and God willing, selling it out. There are so many great moments that I could go on and on. Our first headlining show, which it was in a very tiny venue, that was a great moment. It was our first headlining show that we sold out at the Barn in Riverside. Selling out the Palace as the headlining act, that was incredible. Playing for thousands and thousands of people in Europe. Those are always amazing. 

Q: It must be a rush playing in a big venue like that? 

MONIQUE: It is. When you play a radio show, you don't expect 25 or more people to know the words to a song, but they do. That is always a great surprise. 

Q: How did this "spam" thing come about? 

MONIQUE: I have to say that it was really funny in the beginning. I'm so glad it's over now. "Spam" was just a funny song that in the beginning, almost four years ago, same with as "Under 21", was just fun, young, fun songs. There were a couple of other songs that we have retired. It was time to retire "Spam" and "Under 2l". We haven't yet - even though none of us are under 2l anymore, because people love that song and they love the "Spam" song and irregardless of how much we don't like it, people they still like it and they are what matters. There's nothing to be ashamed of. It's a fun funny song. 

Q: Did someone pass you a can of spam to? 

MONIQUE: I would have people who would eat raw spam out of a can to get like a "Save Ferris" T-shirt on the stage in the days when we were really desperate. 

Q: How different is this C.D. from the last one? Is it basically with the same kind of beat? 

MONIQUE: Yeah. Our first album we put out independently and if I remember correctly, I think it was five of those seven songs that EP put out. Five of those seven songs were on there. I don't know which one I like better. 

Q: Do you get a lot of audience participation like this wherever you go? 

MONIQUE: Yeah. Usually by the end of the show, almost everybody is free of whatever they have built of there and are pretty much going with the groove. Of course, every once in while you have the shows that you don't feel so successful. It's a learning experience. 

Q: What has been your influence musically? 

MONIQUE: I started studying opera when I was 11 years-old. I did that for 8 years. So my influences when it came to pop music were much more mature for my age. I liked Aretha Franklin and Ella Fitzgerald and various opera singers. Then I was going through different stages of course like glam rock, and what not. I think women today who really influenced me would be like Torri Amos and Annie DeFranco, as well as Aretha. Very strong and empowered women. 

Q: Where do you think your band is headed in relation to the quality of your music in the future? 

MONIQUE: We are definitely becoming more mature in ourselves (laugh). We just like to have fun. 

ACE: Have you done some any work for MTV? 

MONIQUE: Yes. I've some things for them. I did this Ozzie Ozborne thing - hosting it. 

Q: They do improvise a lot when they are on stage. 

MONIQUE: I like that. I really appreciate that in a performer, as well as numerous male musicians and performers that I really look up to like Tom York, Richard Ashcroft, and David Bowie. I could go on and on. 

Q: Did you ever think about doing a Memorex commercial (like Ella)? 

MONIQUE: (Laugh). Not really no. I remember that Memorez commercial when someone hit a long note and broke a glass. Maybe if I was still singing opera, maybe, but I always wondered. I realize that it wasn't just the pitch, it was also the intensity of the tone. 

Q: You have been on tour for the 14 months now? 

MONIQUE: Save Ferris has been touring for l4 months straight. I'm talking about not unpacking my bags for l4 months. 14 months ago when we had a break it was for only 10 days. 

Q: Do you think there is a certain level you are trying to reach with your music? 

MONIQUE: We are always striving to be better, because it gets boring to play the same songs day after day. You have to have goals, and I'm a Leo so I get bored. I wasn't bored l4 months ago; but what has kept me going is that every reaction from every audience is different and every show is a challenge - getting everybody going and getting everybody to just let go. 

Q: What would you say was one of the least memorable things on tour? 

MONIQUE: I had to clean the toilet seats today on this bus - someone peed on it. I have to live on this bus with like 10 guys. I had to put a sign on the toilet seat that said "respect your mother, put your seat down. They crossed out ther, so it read "respect your mo". 

Q: Do you train your voice? 

MONIQUE: I am seeing a voice therapist right now. After 4 years in this band, I decided to go back and take lessons again, just because I was getting bored. I needed something else to work on so I am seeing like a therapist-pathologist-voice teacher. And yeah, it helps. 

Q:   Do you think of yourself as one of the leaders of the band? 

MONIQUE: When they asked me to be in this band, there were already songs written and I knew that the moment I got into this band that I did not want to be back-up singer. I wanted to be a front person. It was time because I had paid my dues. I did it. I studied. I sang back-up. I paid my dues. There was no way that I was going to sing just what was given to me anymore. I did that for 8 years. That's why I am in this band. Each person in the band has their own role. There's no offense there whatsoever, and not one role is more important than another. For instance, two nights ago, Evan's kick pedal broke, so it was my job to keep the audience until he could change it. 

----- Randy Cohen 

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