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Buffy The Vampire SlayerNerf Herder : Outliving Buffy
By Keith Carman
Saturday 28 June 2003, by Webmaster
Thanks for not asking about the Buffy The Vampire Slayer theme song," says Nerf Herder frontman Parry Gripp before the interview is even underway. While this SoCal pop/punk power trio, vaguely modeled after the kitschy-ness of fellow goofy Californians The Vandals and Lagwagon, have been blessed in their decade-long existence, Gripp is quick to point out that sometimes the blessing really is in disguise.
"We’ve had these strange brushes with success, you see. There’s doing the Buffy theme which came about unexpectedly when a person on the show passed our music along to ’someone important.’ There’s also the flirt we had with radio and big labels thanks to the ’Van Halen’ from a few years ago. While these things were happening, we were like, ’Great! This rocks!’ After years of only being known for those two small things and people interrupt your other songs going, ’Hey! Play Buffy!’ at every gig, you start to wonder how great it really is."
While Gripp paints a moderately dismal picture of his band’s fortunes, he admits that the majority of it is tongue-in-cheek. A self-proclaimed group of "smart-assed geeks," the band thrives off of hilarious song lyrics, on-stage drunkenness and a dedication to virtually nothing serious.
"Live in an RV with four other guys for three months at a time and we’ll see how much you take to heart," quips drummer Steve Sherlock. "After seeing them in their various states of existence and traveling around the world during some pretty ludicrous events, there isn’t much to take to heart. Besides, we play punk rock... how can you not have fun playing punk rock?"
An aptly-named observation on their own culture, Nerf Herder’s latest album, American Cheese, is chock-full of these fun moments. It’s their second effort for the Honest Don’s label and Gripp and Sherlock couldn’t be happier to be back in their stable pop-punk environment. A brief ordeal with major label-types (dinners, limos, the obligatory schmoozing) post-"Van Halen" success quickly turned sour, almost bringing the boys off their goofy trip once again.
"That song was pushed to the radio before we’d even done the album yet," grunts Gripp matter-of-factly. "It was becoming an underground hit while we were driving out to see if the CD was back from manufacturing yet! All of a sudden, we were being courted by everyone and when we finally made our choice... nothing!"
"We were signed, but the label didn’t want to spend any money really," adds Sherlock. "They wanted to wait and hold us to see if we were worth their effort or not. We got sick of not being able to make any moves or put anything out, so we asked to be dropped."
"Big mistake," says Gripp. "That meant instead of them buying us out and us walking away with loads of cash, we had to repay our debts. I think we still are. Either way, it was a big lesson not to walk away from your roots. We’ve done better with Honest Don’s than we expected. They care about their bands, they keep you in the loop as to what’s going on with your album, where other labels push you out the door going, ’Don’t worry about it kid. It’ll be great.’"