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A failed ska group turned alternative popsters, Save Ferris was originally formed as a ska-punk band named Los Pantelones. After the group broke up in 1995, guitarist Brian Mashburn and saxophone player Eric Zamora began writing songs, together with former bandmates Bill Uechi (bass) and José Castellaños (trumpeter). The quartet later recruited drummer Mark Harismendy, vocalist Monique Powell, and trombone player T-Bone Willy.
The band gigged around the Orange County area for just one month, and recorded the EP Introducing Save Ferris. Invited to compete in a Grammy Showcase of unsigned bands, Save Ferris won local and regional competitions, then flew to New York for the final round; after just one show, a senior executive at Epic Records began talking to the band and signed them, even before they found out the results of the competition. Working with producer Peter Collins, Save Ferris recorded their debut full-length It Means Everything. Thanks to an energetic cover of "Come on Eileen" (by Dexy's Midnight Runners), the album did well on alternative radio. Modified followed in 1999.