If you spin things back twenty years, 1996 was a strange time for me. It was the year I moved back to Illinois from Iowa, a time of self-discovery and a year before I met the girl who I’m married to today. Thing is, despite being released formally in ’96, NERF HERDER‘s self-titled debut was very much a part of the 1997 soundtrack for me, and just as it was for many, it was fueled by a little single called “Van Halen.” Commentary on David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar aside, the band garnered my immediate respect for having a STAR WARS-inspired name at a time when the Original Trilogy was just coming back into theaters as the infamous “Special Editions,” and the boom of the Pop Culture “Con” was still just a few years off. Over the years, I amassed a sizable collection of NERF HERDER CDs, and after becoming a parent, frontman Parry Gripp has remained part of my daily soundtrack, not always due to his work with NERF HERDER, but as the man behind a host of televised kid’s music – from Disney Junior’s DJ Shuffle (which I premiered here on THE ROCK FATHER Magazine back in 2014) to The 7D, and even the MARVEL SUPER HERO SQUAD, for which he composed the theme. Now NERF HERDER is back with a new album, their first since 2008, and it’s damn good.
The self-released ROCKINGHAM hit the streets this month, the result of a successful PledgeMusic campaign, presenting an 11-song, 37-minute blast of vintage 90s-infused hyphenated pop-punk deliciousness. It’s self-aware, retrospective, and pop-culture heavy – just as it should be. The lineup has changed a tad, with one recent addition being Linus of Hollywood, the former frontman of SIZE 14, who also had a novelty hit back in ’97 with “Claire Danes Poster,” and whom I also took my future wife to see live. Somehow it all swings back to ’97, which is something that NERF HERDER acknowledges on “We Opened for Weezer,” noting that “It was Nerdcore Heaven in ’97.” And it was.
In 2016, NERF HERDER is still bringing the STAR WARS goodness, “I’m the Droid (You’re Looking For)” being recorded at Skywalker Ranch utilizing lyrics made from STAR WARS quotes. There’s “Ghostbusters III,” which laments the fact that a true sequel to the 1984 and 1989 GHOSTBUSTERS films will never happen, something made quite clear by the looming arrival of Paul Feig’s GHOSTBUSTERS reboot this summer.
I could continue detailing just how much good there is on this album, but in the end, who really reads music reviews in 2016 anyway? That’s one of the reasons why I write so few of them these days. The bottom line is that I think NERF HERDER’s ROCKINGHAM is one of 2016’s best albums, and thus far it’s my second favorite behind PRODUCT OF HATE‘s BURIED IN VIOLENCE… but I co-manage that band. If you dig rock and love pop culture (from superheroes to Doctor Who, Harry Potter to LARP-ing and everything in-between), this is for you.
NERF HERDER and THE ROCK FATHER: Selected Weird Career Parallel Chart
|NERF HERDER||THE ROCK FATHER|
|Releases self-titled album (1996)||Purchases self-titled album (1996)|
|Performed theme song for BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (1997-2003). Appeared in series’ final episode (2003).||Appeared in BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER Magazine due to almost directing a film starring actor Christian Kane from the BUFFY spin-off series, ANGEL (2005).|
|Frontman Parry Gripp performs DJ Shuffle for Disney Junior.||Hosts World Premiere of the DJ Shuffle music video for Disney Junior.|
|Gripp releases “The Girl at The Video Game Store” on the late G4’s ATTACK OF THE SHOW. Host Kevin Pereira appears on drums.||Completes TRANSFORMERS mash-up “Megatron’s New Motivation” for ATTACK OF THE SHOW. Host Kevin Pereira introduces it.|
|Gripp creates a jingle for then-Wendy’s sister company, Arby’s||Appears in Swissburger commercial for then-Arby’s sister company, Wendy’s.|
|Takes name from a term that Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is called by Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.||Let’s Harrison Ford play with his 1980 Kenner STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK Action Figure at the Global Press Event for THE FORCE AWAKENS.|
|NERF HERDER releases ROCKINGHAM (2016)||Purchases NERF HERDER’s ROCKINGHAM. (2016)|