Ben, Steve, Parry
17 July 2003
Interview by Jess at The Roadhouse, Manchester on July 17th, 2003
L-R : Ben, Jess, Parry, Steve
Nerf Herder are well known in the UK (as they are in many countries) for being the band who did the ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ theme tune. Now they have just finished their 32 date European tour and have gained fans due to their happy rock songs and on stage charisma, that and keeping Trekkies happy with their t-shirts bearing the slogan “Rock Long and Prosper”. I got the chance to talk to lead singer and guitarist Parry, bassist Ben and drummer Steve before their show at the Roadhouse in Manchester, and we got chatting about triangular sandwiches, turkey gizzards and tribbles.
How has this European tour been so far?
Parry: (silence) Stinky? (laughing).
Steve: It’s been good, we’ve been having a good time. We can safely say that the shows in England have been much better than anywhere else. Tonight should be good, we’ve heard there’s been a good pre-sale and it’s a hot club and everyone’s going to sweat and lose lots of weight and we need to do that! That’s very important.
What’s the best thing about touring in so many different countries?
Parry: The best thing about touring is that we get to play a lot of video games.
Steve: I like not making a bed everyday or doing the dishes.
Parry: If you stay in a hotel you can get your food, get in bed and then just throw the garbage on the floor. What do you think, Ben?
Ben: The different beers in all the different countries.
Have you got a favourite?
Ben: Well this is one of them, (holds up beer bottle) ‘Hoegaarden’, it’s a Belgian beer, it’s pretty good. I like the English beers, too, they’re all good.
Steve: We like the triangular sandwiches over here. What do you call them, deep-filled or something?
Ben: Deep-filled triangular sandwiches are so good.
Steve: Chicken tikka everywhere you turn! You even have chicken tikka in Subway, it’s awesome.
You’re well known in the UK for doing the ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ theme tune. How did your music come to be used on the show?
Ben: Did we do that?
Parry: Well they created the show and they were filming the first season and the people there at the Buffy show hired some high power, fancy pants Hollywood guy to write a song for the theme song and they didn’t like it; they wanted something more rocking, I guess. So they asked a bunch of local, small time bands who they could pay very little money to come up with some ideas and they liked our idea and they used it. And the rest is history!
Steve: Now we’re world famous!
Were you fans of the show?
Steve: Yeah, we were even on the show, the last episode we were playing in the Bronze.
Was it good being on it?
Steve: It was awesome, all one second of it.
Parry: Yeah, all two seconds of it, and you see Steve’s elbow!
Did you get to meet the cast?
Steve: Not everybody, in the past we’ve met a lot of people, like the original cast. But this time around we met Eliza Dushku and the girl that plays Dawn,
Ben: Is that how you say her name? Dushku?
Parry: Yeah, we hung out with the Dawn character and the guy who plays one of the cops in the last episode!
Steve: That was exciting.
Parry: He plays guitar too.
Steve: Oh, so he was a struggling musician?
How did you get your band name?
Steve: It came from the film ‘Empire Strikes Back’, you know the story, right? You just wanna,
No, I don’t know the story.
Steve: Oh, really? Ok, well I’ll do the whole deal. One evening I was sitting on my couch pondering, ‘What should we name our band?’
Ben: He was pondering, alright.
Steve: We wanted to call it, like, ‘Flip Flop’ or ‘Broken G-String’,
Parry: ‘Liquid Ice Cube.’
Steve: Yeah, that was another one.
Parry: As opposed to ‘Metallic Ice Cube.’
Steve: And I was watching the Star Wars Trilogy and I came to ‘Empire Strikes Back’ and there was one scene where Princess Leia got angry at Hans Solo and called him a “Scruffy looking, half-witted Nerf Herder”, a ‘Nerf Herder’ being like a futuristic insult. Like the equivalent of calling him a trash collector or a sheep herder or something. So that’s how I came up with the name.
How do you start writing lyrics?
Parry: Originally we started writing lyrics when there were just three of us goofing around and playing in a garage and I would try to make those guys laugh. Well, I would try to make one of them laugh and one of them angry and so that’s how the lyrics came about. Most of the lyrics are about Steve’s personal life, like with the ladies and stuff like that.
Steve: Those are all the instrumentals!
Parry: (laughing) No, he had a hot streak when our band first started and that inspired all the songs.
Steve: Yeah, I did have a hot streak!
Parry: You were just on fire!
Steve: Yeah, but then all my hair fell out.
Parry: He’s still on a hot streak, though.
Out of all the bands you’ve toured with, who have you got on with the most?
Parry: The Bloodhound Gang.
Steve: We’ve made good friends with them over the years. In fact, we even ate Thanksgiving dinner at Evil Jared’s house.
Ben: Last Thanksgiving, that was great.
Steve: He doesn’t know how to cook a turkey for shit but he’s a great guy, he’s a good host.
Ben: I don’t know if this is the way it is over here, but when you buy a whole turkey, they put the gizzards and the things inside the turkey which you’re supposed to take out, they’re like in a plastic bag. Well, we were digging into the turkey, having a good time and I think Dave went back for seconds, got some more turkey, and he was like, “Wait, what’s this?!” and he pulled out the bag of gizzards, because Evil Jared forgot to take them out.
Steve: Yeah, then we were all like, “that’s why it tastes like plastic!” (lots of laughing)
Ben: But it was great, it was really awesome.
Parry: Yeah, he actually made Scrapple, have you ever heard of Scrapple? It’s a thing from Pennsylvania, it’s sort of like all the extra parts of the cow or the pig or whatever animal it is that you’ve cooked, pressed into these little grey blocks.
Steve: It’s really good, if you’re ever in the East Coast, like Pennsylvania, you definitely want to order some Scrapple.
Have you got any funny tour stories?
Ben: That we can tell you?
Parry: Funny ha-ha or funny weird?
Steve: Most of the time if we’ve got mirrors in our dressing room we get a good chuckle when we look in them, that’s about it.
Parry: Ben got locked in the back of the van once!
Ben: That was funny. Well, it was for you guys! It wasn’t so funny for me.
How long were you locked in for?
Ben: Well we had the door of the van open, and I didn’t realise it would close so I got in, and we were sort of leaning forwards and the door closed and I was like, “Hey!”
Steve: There are no windows in there, we need complete enclosure for the equipment. After about 12 hours we were pretty sure he was unconscious so we decided to let him out after that!
Ben: There’s got to be a funnier story than that.
Steve: See, we’re not that crazy.
Parry: We play this game ‘Mario Carts’ a lot, so our experience on the road is like a mushroom shooting a turtle at, like, a frog. That’s mostly what we talk about!
Steve: Yeah, that’s true.
What kind of music are you listening to at the moment?
Steve: I don’t know, what’s this playing at the moment?
Ben: We’ve been listening to the new ‘Me First and the Gimme Gimmes’ record, that’s really good.
Steve: That’s a great record, you’ve got to go out and buy that at your local Virgin Megastore!
Parry: What’s that band? Biffy
Parry: Yes! I like them.
Ben: I’ve heard of them, they’re good.
Parry: There’s a band called ‘Rad’ from Santa Barbara, they’re really awesome, we listen to them a lot.
Ben: You can get their stuff off mp3.com.
Steve: Are they on there? I think they are. That’s featuring a member of a band called ‘Sick Shift’, that’s his band (pointing at the Merch guy, Ricky.)
Parry: We’ve also been listening to ‘Captain Everything’, a really great band. They have a new record out that we really like a lot. Also, the ‘No Comply’ EP is really good.
Steve: Which is on sale here at our merch booth!
Your video for ‘Mr. Spock’ has just started playing on the ‘P-rock’ music channel over here. Was it fun dressing up and making the video?
Steve: They’re playing the video over here? Yeah, it was really fun. That was like a fantasy come true for us ‘Star Trek’ nerds because we felt like we were on the set of Star Trek and the kind of thing where they go, “Ok, you’re crashing into a Space ship. Haul to the left!” and we’d haul to the left and the camera would go with us and then, “Go to the right!”.
Parry: Yeah, it was really fun. And I got to keep my Captain Kirk shirt, I wear that a lot.
Steve: And we had the funny aliens with the rubber faces.
Parry: There was a lot of tin foil used in the production, it was very high budget. Or aluminium foil.
Parry: Aluminium! Aluminium foil.
So you’re all big Star Trek fans?
Steve: Oh yeah, I’m a huge Star Trek fan. I really liked the episode where there are the Space Hippies and the guy with the crazy ears and they play the music and stuff. And the tribble one is really good, too.
JWR Suzi: Tribbles are cute.
Steve: Yeah, they are cute.
JWR Suzi: I have a tribble.
Parry: Do you? Really?
Steve: A real live one? How do they get around, I mean, do they roll?
JWR Suzi: They sellotape them to remote-control cars and just let them run around.
Ben: That sounds like fun.
Steve: We should do that on tour, that would be a good tour story!
Parry: Yeah, that would be good.
Steve: Although I would stick the tribbles in my pants or something.
Ben: He likes that stuff!
Steve: Not with actual tape though, I wouldn’t stick them to myself! (Standing up and demonstrating.) That’d be an answer, “What’s wrong, Steve? Having trouble with tribbles?!” “Yep!” Tribble Trouble. (lots of laughing)
So you’re big Sci-fi fans, then? When it comes to movies?
Parry: Yeah, I would say so.
Steve: Star Trek, is, of course, great. Star Wars, we’ve been watching all the Star Wars movies, when we’re not playing video games.
Do you think the old Star Wars films are better than the new ones?
Steve: Oh, yes.
Ben: By far.
Steve: Except for Episode II has that really hot actress. What’s her name, Ricky?
Ricky the merch guy: Natalie Portman.
Steve: Natalie Portman! In that white space suit, she’s really nice.
Ricky: Yeah and her shirt gets ripped and you see her bare midriff.
Steve: Yeah, I think the second episode is good.
Parry: I never saw Episode II. We have to see it.
Ben: No we don’t!
Parry: I wanna see what happens!
If you weren’t in a band, what do you think you’d be doing right now?
Parry: I’d be playing video games and watching Star Wars movies!
Steve: I’d probably be a roadie. No, that’s not true. I don’t know, a trash collector. No wait, a rubbish collector.
Ben: Me? I’d ride my bike around the world, that would be my job. I wouldn’t get paid much, but it would be a goal.
How do you deal with being on the road for so long?
Steve: We hate each other!
Parry: We’re about to kill each other.
Ben: We-oh, I’m sorry you go ahead.
Steve: No, you go ahead!
Ben: (shouting) No, you go ahead!
Steve: (standing up) No, you go ahead!
Parry: Hey, stop it!
Steve: Fuck you! (attacks Parry, leading to a lot of laughing.)
Parry: We play video games and we don’t talk to each other to avoid things like that happening!
Steve: Yeah, there’s like a 2 week point on every tour where you want to strangle everyone.
Ben: Somehow that happened on the first day of this tour!
Parry: The first night of our tour we had this huge argument about where to stay.
Steve: You know what we do on tour to release our energy? We tie our merch guy to the bed posts and we whip him! (lots of laughing as Ricky the merch guy shakes his head.)
What have you got planned after this tour?
Ben: Watching TV.
Steve: Yeah, eating lots of ice cream, eating lots of Sushi, I like Sushi a lot.
Ben: ‘In and Out Burger’.
Steve: Yeah. You don’t get In and Out Burger here, do you? Your burgers kind of suck here, they’re not that good. You need to get an In and Out Burger, that’s what it’s all about.
Ben: Actually we do have an EP coming out. Well, the EP “My EP” is being re-released on Honest Don’s which is kind of Fat Wreck Chords, at the end of July so that’s going to be the next thing that goes out to the world. It has some extra songs on it, some B-sides from ‘American Cheese’ (their new album) and a video, which was very fun, it was very quick. We spent about 3 hours on it or something?
Steve: I think the budget literally was $11 for this video.
Parry: And that was for a roll of gaffa tape, and that was it.
Steve: It was good, though.
Parry: I haven’t seen it yet but I hear it’s good!
Thanks a lot to the guys for taking the time to do the interview, they were very nice and really funny, and JWR Suzi would like to say thanks to Steve for saying she was “cooler than Madonna” because of all her bangles. They put on a great show which did in fact cause everyone to sweat so much they probably lost a few pounds, playing such popular tracks as ‘Courtney’, ‘Love Sandwich’, ‘Van Halen’, ‘Mr. Spock’, ‘5000 Ways to Die’ and the Buffy theme tune, but only after stating “We’ll only play this if you guys promise not to leave straight after!” To find out more information on Nerf Herder, head over to www.nerfherder.net and look out for their album ‘American Cheese’ which is out now.
Originally conducted for www.justwannarock.com