Published on November 6th, 1997 | by Gerry Galipault0
Save Ferris comes to the rescue
Brian “T-Bone Willy” Williams, trombonist for the rock ‘n’ ska band Save Ferris, knows precisely when he first fell in love with ska.
“It was in 1984 and I was watching Madness on ‘Solid Gold,’ ” Williams said recently. “I remember watching it and thinking, ‘Man, that was cool.’ “
So cool he has played in a variety of punk-influenced ska bands the past 10 years, finally settling on Save Ferris in 1995 with Monique Powell (vocals), Brian Mashburn (guitar, vocals), Bill Uechi (bass), Marc Harismendy (drums), Jose Castellanos (trumpet) and Eric Zamora (alto sax).
Their self-produced independent EP, “Introducing … Save Ferris,” broke the ice last year, selling more than 10,000 copies. A win in the national Grammy Showcase for unsigned bands quickly led to a deal with Epic. Their full-length debut album, “It Means Everything,” powered by a perky cover version of Dexy Midnight Runners’ “Come On Eileen,” was released in September and peaked at No. 75 on Billboard’s pop chart but continues to sell well.
“Everyone’s talking to us about charts and sales and radio response, and it’s so funny for us,” Williams said. “The album’s been out for more than a month, and we’ve been touring since before it came out that we’re so far removed from it. We’re just driving in our van 12 hours a day, doing sound checks and playing shows. We don’t have time to stop and look at it and go, ‘Wow, look what’s happened.’ “
Spawned from the same streets of Orange County, Calif., as No Doubt, Save Ferris members have a long history in ska and aren’t bandwagon riders, Williams said.
“Personally, I’ve been doing this about 10 years now, and everybody else in the band has been in the Orange County ska-punk scene in other bands before this,” he said. “In Orange County, ska-punk has been around for so long, it’s so embedded in the music scene, that it was just a natural progression for us. It wasn’t like ‘Look what everyone else is doing across the country.’ “
No doubt, fans will be drawn to the energetic “Come On Eileen,” but that’s not even the album’s strongest track. That’s a good sign for Save Ferris.
“Just before we recorded the album, we kind of threw together a version because we really wanted to do it and put our own little spin on the song,” Williams said. “We call it Ferrisizing songs. Whenever we can, we try to do covers. We did it live at a show and the crowd response was just so good that our producer (Peter Collins) said ‘Why don’t you guys try it?’ And now it’s taken off. It’s a great song to help introduce people to our stuff.”
BWF (before we forget): Help Save Ferris on the Web @ www.sonymusic.com.