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Nerf Herder

Nerf Herder having a ball - Venturacountystar.com Interview (buffy & gellar mention)

By Bill Locey

Thursday 10 March 2005, by Webmaster

JPEG - 15 kb
The original members of pop-punk band Nerf Herder — bass player Charlie Dennis, drummer Steve Sherlock and singer-guitarist Parry Gripp, from left — have reformed the group. "We decided to get together and just jam, have some fun and bury the hatchet," says Gripp of the group, which plays in Goleta Saturday.

Tired of touring, the band broke up, but the pop-punk trio has since reunited for ’fun’ weekend performances

There is no shortage of goofball pop punk rockers out there such as Bowling for Soup, NOFX, Green Day and all the rest. More than holding their own with any other such bands, and funny enough to have their own gig on the Comedy Channel, is the newly resurrected Nerf Herder out of Santa Barbara.

The trio will play Saturday night at the Mercury Lounge in Goleta, no doubt packing the joint.

Named for a line in "The Empire Strikes Back," Nerf Herder is frantic frontman Parry Gripp, drummer Steve Sherlock and back on board again is original bass player Charlie Dennis.

The band started around 1996 and had a textbook career right of Rock ’n’ Roll 101.

It released a debut album on local label My Records, then got signed to Arista Records and even sang "Happy Birthday" to label honcho Clive Davis.

It went on to release three albums and an EP, wrote the theme song for "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," toured the world, then quit.

Along the way, the band wrote some hilarious songs, some even mild or shoulda-been hits.

"Van Halen" details the mind-bending torture endured by some zit-faced teenage twerp when David Lee Roth was replaced by Sammy Hagar.

"Sorry" is a song where the singer apologizes for a million transgressions, each more outrageous than the last. The band got to film a video for the song in Burbank on the old "Cagney & Lacey" set. The budget was $100,000 and Hollywood stars like Mark Hamill, Miguel Ferrer and Joseph Campanella were recruited to guest-star.

There’s also a song about a notorious street in Santa Barbara called "Down On Haley," none of which is mentioned in the tourism brochures.

Nerf Herder only recently reformed and has played just a few gigs, keeping things slow and mellow - well, slow anyway.

Gripp’s day job is mellow; he grows orchids, thousands of them, at his family’s Santa Barbara Orchid Estate, a nursery in Goleta.

Busy with last weekend’s big orchid show at Earl Warren Showgrounds, Gripp found time to discuss his favorite band.

So Nerf Herder, they’re back?

Nerf Herder’s back - Nerf Herder circa 1996.

Where did you go?

Well, about a year ago, basically, we had been touring a lot, and I personally got really sick riding around in a van that smelled like bologna. I didn’t want to do it anymore, so we just kind of retired.

Bologna? Hate when that happens. Why didn’t you get one of those little pine tree air fresheners?

We tried that stuff - it wasn’t that good. We ended up with a bologna air freshener. But basically, Steve and I - he was one of the founding members - just got tired of doing it. So we weren’t doing anything. Then we ran into our old original bass player, Charlie - it was Charlie, Steve and I that started the band, got signed to Arista and did all that big stuff. So we kind of ended with Charlie when we were on a major label.

We had been playing in our garage, then six months later, we were on MTV and traveling around touring, then you sort of go crazy and can’t deal with each other very well.

We felt bad about how things ended with Charlie, and we just started talking to him again after, like, seven years.

So he was in Santa Barbara as well?

Yeah. He had moved around, but he was back in Santa Barbara. He wasn’t doing anything musically, so we decided to get together and just jam, have some fun and bury the hatchet as to any bad feelings that had been left over from before.

So it was fun, and it reminded me how much fun it was when we initially started playing in the first place.

Because of that, we decided to play a couple of shows and so far we’ve played two. We played a show at Elsie’s in Santa Barbara in December, which was our first show; then we opened for the Vandals at House of Blues for their Christmas show.

So we decided to play every three months or so.

It’s about that time.

It’s about that time. So we’re playing at the Mercury Lounge on March 12 and at the Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco on March 19.

We played the Mercury Lounge once a long time ago before we got signed. We opened for Jane Wiedlin’s band, Frosted. I borrowed her amp and knocked it over while we were playing and broke the jack and her roadie fixed it but I felt really bad.

The next day - my family grows orchids - I was able to find her address and sent her some orchids.

A few days later, I came to work and there was a message to call Jane Wiedlin, but I was too nervous.

Then you guys got signed to Arista. How cool was that?

Yeah, we got to hang out with Clive Davis.

And when you sang "Happy Birthday" to him, that was the beginning of the end?

Yeah, I guess he was thinking, "Why did I sign these guys?"

And no tour with Whitney Houston or Kenny G?

No. That whole thing was all very strange.

OK, so you guys were rock stars, and you gave it all up?

Well, I don’t know - it sort of became a grind. It was fun; we went to Europe a bunch of times, we went to Japan, but when you’re in Vienna for the fifth time, and you’re thinking, "This sucks; I can’t wait to get home," then, hey, this isn’t very fun.

And we drank beer everywhere; maybe it was too much beer.

So little kids watch MTV, if they still have music anymore, and end up wanting to be rock stars, yet Nerf Herder ended up in a van smelling like bologna and/or bored in Vienna. What happened?

Well, we never made it to the level where we were flying around in a jet.

We were making enough money to sort of do it, but it was sort of like, "Well, this thing that used to be really fun is getting to be a grind, and the more we ride around in the van, the more money we’ll make, and that’s not very fun."

It just naturally seemed like a good time to quit. Now that it’s limited, it’s sort of fun this way.

But you had all these great songs like "Van Halen," "Sorry" and "Courtney Love," so is talent incidental? Does it matter whether or not you have good songs?

I guess that it makes you feel good, but I’m not sure what it has to do with record sales and stuff. I’m really proud of our stuff, especially our first record. I think that’s the best one.

There are three albums and an EP, but since this is the original group, we’re just playing songs off the first record. We also do the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" theme because we wrote that a long time ago.

So the check’s in the mail for that one? That show is on about 90 times a day.

Well, a little bit, but we don’t get the cut that Sarah Michelle Gellar gets.

She is cuter than you guys.

Yeah, she deserves it more than we do.

Unlike other musicians, you had the orchid thing to fall back on.

My family can’t fire me, but I do need to be here a lot.

Does the band still sound the same?

I always describe it as a Weezer ripoff or a Ramones ripoff, I dunno.

So original guys falling out of a multiyear time warp, now back to square one?

Back to square one. We all have lives now and jobs, so it’s unlikely that we would tour at all.

If some rich fool wanted to fly us somewhere, we might do that, but for now, these weekend things are what we’re going to be doing.

This show will probably be 5 or 10 bucks. If it’s more than 10 bucks, people will want to see Jimi Hendrix resurrected. I don’t think we’re gonna get back in the van.

Corsican Brothers

In case you may have forgotten, Ventura does rock on Wednesday night. The Corsican Brothers have been rocking the Sans Souci for many moons now, and if you haven’t checked them out for a while, you should.

About as close as it gets to the good ol’ days at dearly departed Charlie’s, the three boys in the band have been around and have stories to tell.

Frontman Frank Barajas, maybe Ritchie Valens reborn, along with his drummer cousin Chuck Herrera have been in a bunch of bands from the Strangers and Durango 95 to JuJu Eyeball.

The bass player, Russ Davis, is a good singer and used to be in Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Together, they play a bunch of classic rock songs, but not classic rock.

Deftly choosing songs of the pop rock persuasion, they do everything from Buddy Holly to Elvis, the Beatles, the Byrds, the Plimsouls, Marshall Crenshaw, the Who and lots more.

Even better, the band does a bunch of Barajas originals from all of his past lives in bands.

It’s worth showing up just to hear "Bound For You," "You Let Me Down" and "What Strong Things Does." Cool, danceable pop songs - clearly a cultural landslide.

Sans Souci is at 21 S. Chestnut St., Ventura. The Corsican Brothers go on at 9 p.m. Wednesdays, and there’s no cover. Call the club at 643-4539 for additional information.

Hot tickets

If I had a faster car, a richer girlfriend or even one with a job, here’s where else I’d be lurking this week: The Legalizers at Wine Lovers in Ventura (tonight); Christopher Willams at SOhO in Santa Barbara (tonight); Dave Mason at The Canyon in Agoura Hills (Friday); Preston Smith at Wine Lovers (Friday); Jonathan McEuen at Zoey’s in Ventura (Friday); Inna Rude Mood at Wine Lovers (Saturday); Left of Memphis and Brett Dennen at Zoey’s (Saturday); Roby Duron Band at Sans Souci in Ventura (Sunday); Suzanne Paris at Cafe de Artistes in Ventura (Tuesday); Dave Alvin at Firestone Walker in Buellton (Wednesday).