Parry Gripp of Nerf Herder: The Nerd World Interview

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I have not in the past been shy about the love I feel for original nerd-rockers Nerf Herder. And this is no time to start, because I am in possession of an interview with Nerf Herder frontman Parry Gripp, which we conducted via e-mail. It was originally supposed to come out to coincide with the release of their latest album, Nerf Herder IV (or is it just called IV? not sure) in April. But Parry had rock star things to do or something because it took him a while to get around to my e-mail. Then I forgot about it too. Then the other day I was in a restaurant and they played “Mr. Spock” on the sound system, and I remembered to bug him about it.

And here it is. You can tell how excited I am about this because I actually went through and italicized it every time somebody mentions a TV show or something else that should be italicized. Or at any rate I think I got most of them.

It’s been, what, like six years or something since the last Nerf
Herder album. What have you guys been up to? And what made you stop
doing whatever you’ve been doing and come back and make another album?

We all have jobs and other stuff that we do. Nerd rock for us is a
hobby, like playing on a softball team. And just like playing
softball, it is excellent aerobic exercise. I’d like to say that it
took six years because we were perfecting every note, but that wasn’t
the case at all.

Tell me about what’s different on this one. If anything. Have you
been evolving?

Nope. We don’t believe in evolution. Our records are created through
intelligent design. Err, maybe just regular design. I don’t think much
is different at all. Same chords. Same twelve-tone musical scale. Same
whiny singing. Less swearing, for sure. Quite honestly, after waiting
six years to make the CD, it was a struggle just to sound the same.

There’s a couple songs here that refer back to your earlier stuff
— ‘Golfshirt (part 2)” and ‘Dianalee.” Were you guys feeling
nostalgic, or what made you go back to that place?

There is something weird about singing songs you wrote ten years ago.
Sort of like looking at an old tattoo and thinking, “Man, I used to
really be into Knight Rider”. They’re your songs, so you’re stuck with
them, but at the same time they belong to a you that doesn’t exist
anymore. Hmmm… I know there is a science fiction story in there
somewhere. As for nostalgia, it is a favorite Nerf Herder topic. Our
only semi-hit, “Van Halen”, was all about it. Everything is always
better in the past.

In ‘Crocodile’ there’s a chorus of ‘woolly woolly.’ Been a while
since I heard anybody say ‘woolly woolly’ in a song. Not a question,
but people should say that more.

Actually, it is a reference to the great rock and roll classic ,”Wooly
Bully” . Our marketing people concluded that kids these days love Sam
The Sham and the Pharaohs. No, it doesn’t make any sense.

My ears may be deceiving me, but “Dance” almost sounds like a
happy love song. We don’t hear a lot of those out of you. What
happened, man? You used to be cool.

I am still cool! Bass player Charlie Dennis wrote that song, words and
all. Catchiest song on the CD, if you ask me.

Nerf Herder are of course the premier practitioners of the pop
song-that-is-about-other-pop songs. “Led Zeppelin Rules” being the
latest example there. What’s your interest in songs like that? And
what was the impetus for this one? And how can I get that new Donut
Boys single on my cell phone?

The inspiration for the “Led Zeppelin Rules” song came from iTunes. I
had searched for the Zepp and hardly anything came up, so I theorized
that if there was a song called “Led Zeppelin Rules”, iTunes shopping
Led Zeppelin fans (possibly drunk) might buy it. Really, it was sort
of a scientific experiment. Unfortunately, the Led Zeppelin catalog
was released to iTunes shortly after we recorded the song. In
retrospect, we should have called it “Garth Brooks Rules”. He is still
holding out.

And there’s a shot in there at Men at Work. How can you hate on
Men at Work? My God man, haven’t they suffered enough?

I love Men At Work! Of course, the slight towards Men at Work is
coming from the “character” singing the song, who unlike the actual
me, doesn’t love the song “Overkill”. This “character” says all sorts
of crazy stuff, none of which I take any responsibility for.

At the risk of offending you, I gotta know: Parry. That’s, like, a
family name? Or?

I was named after Parry O’Brien, the man who revolutionized the
shot-put. I just learned that a year ago, when he died. Thank you for
not asking about “Gripp”.

What did happen to Lulu? Who is/was Lulu? I feel like I should
know this, and my Nerf Herder fan cred is going to take a big hit
here.

Ha Ha! Lulu was Drummer Steve Sherlock’s girlfriend during the initial
Nerf Herder years. Nobody knows about her! Her cousin, Betsy, had a
nose ring, which was not so common back then. She also wore a
dalmatian jacket. Our song “Nosering girl” was written about the
cousin. Steve’s romantic life figured big into the first Nerf Herder
record. Now that we are all married we just have to make that stuff
up.

Are you down with any of the nerdcore scene that has come up since
you guys started playing? Frontalot and mc chris etc.? Do they give
you credit?

I had coffee with MC Lars once. Does that count? I don’t think we
deserve much, if any credit, for the rap oriented nerdcore stuff,
although I do feel that comes from the same desire to do something
that you really aren’t cool enough to do. I remember seeing Weezer
very early on playing at a friend’s birthday party, and hearing the
the lyrics to “In The Garage” where they sing about the twelve sided
die. It was liberating. I thought, “Wow! I don’t have to sing about
being cool. I can sing about being uncool!” Similarly, I’d guess that
mc chris was thinking, “well, I don’t make a very convincing gangster,
but I do come across as a very legit code monkey.”

Tell me about the whole Buffy thing. Was it cool going on the
show? Do you get money every time they rerun it on the CW or whatever?

The Buffy thing was great. Best of all was working with Joss Whedon.
He is a real genius, and super nice guy to work with. Buffy was one of
the first things we did outside of our little garage. We got the gig
because they were running out of money and needed something cheap.
They asked all of the small time bands they knew to come up with
ideas. It was a great time for us. The show hadn’t happened yet, and
Joss and some of the actors would come to our concerts in Los Angeles
and Santa Barbara. The funny thing is, we were signed to a major
label during the period we were working on the Buffy song, and when
the show was finally going to come out our label didn’t want us to
have anything to do with it. They actually negotiated our name smaller
in the credits! Later on, when the show was a hit, they suggested,
“Say, why don’t you guys add some lyrics to that Buffy song? We could
do an EP”. Typical.

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