Do you like waffles? Do you know where Awesometown is? May Rock Band Network Artist of the Month Parry Gripp does. As the writer and artist behind such classic RBN tracks as ""Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom" and "Spaghetti Cat (I Weep for You)", Parry is an RBN favorite. We talked to him about his music, the girl at the video game store, and nachos.
Harmonix: You've become famous for your musical celebrations (and mockeries) of various Internet phenomena, such as videos of people's pets doing painfully cute things. (I think our Community team played the video for "Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom" every single day one summer.) What started you on the path to YouTube stardom?
Parry Gripp: I decided that I wanted to make music that was timeless. Through careful observation, I concluded that a cat flushing [a] toilet will always be funny, that hamsters eating popcorn will always be cute, and that watching someone get hit in the face with a soccer ball will never lose its thrill. Then it all just fell into place.
HMX: You spend a lot of time singing about small, cute animals. Do you have any pets of your own? If so, have they featured in any of your videos yet?
PG: My wife has a rabbit named Bruno BunBun. He can be seen in “Easter Bunny In Space”. Currently, we are between cats. I’ve tried to convince my wife that we could make a lot of YouTube money with a living room full of hamsters, but she’s not going for it.
HMX: You're very attuned to the Internet and to current cultural trends and memes. What websites do you routinely visit?
PG: I’m always reading Wikipedia, discovering new and interesting facts that serve no purpose at all. And, I look at tech websites a lot. Engadget and Gizmodo. I’m not sure why. They mostly make me disgusted with humanity due to their fan boy riddled comment sections. Also, I like local news sites. Like, “Newsflash! There is a car on fire in front of Wendy’s”. I can’t get enough of that.
HMX: Your songs make people laugh - but obviously you're bringing a lot of musical talent to the stage as well as a great sense of humor. Who are some of your influences?
PG: Well, when I was a kid I used to tape the Dr. Demento show off of the radio and listen to it over and over. I grew up to that. He’d play all kinds of funny music. I listened to Weird Al get his start on Dr. Demento. Also, it was the first place I heard the Ramones, who are one of my all time favorites. In high school I switched gears and for a whole year listened only to the band Rush. That was a lonely, lonely year.
HMX: Your SXSW performance last year was your first live show as Parry Gripp, correct? What was that like?
PG: At the time, it was terrifying. But in retrospect it was a lot fun! I was really surprised that people actually showed up and sang along. That was the only Parry Gripp performance I’ve ever done like that. I’d like to do more. I just need to get my schtick together, rent a hamster suit, and get on the road.
HMX: Tell us a bit about your current gear?
PG: I love gear. Get ready for an earful!
I record with ProTools 9. I currently have a Mac Pro, but all of 2010 I did using a Mac Mini. I’m a big fan of the SSD boot drive. I tune the vocals with Melodyne Studio, and mainly use Waves, T-Racks, and Pro Tools stock plug-ins. Lately I really like the Abbey Road Kontakt drum modules, but a much of my older drum stuff was done with the free ProTools Xpand! instrument, or just dropping individual drum samples onto a grid. Whack.
My main microphone is a Neumann U87, which I have been using for about 10 years. Occasionally I use a Sennheiser MD-441, which the is the microphone that most looks like a phaser from the original Star Trek. For a preamps, I switch between an API 7600 Channel Strip and a Focusrite Green 5 channel strip. In the past I’ve used an Avalon 737, and I occasionally use a Universal Audio 6176. These go into an oldish Lucid 9624 Analog to Digital converter, and into my Digi 002 Rack, which goes into the computer. Blip-blorp.
I own bunch of Les Pauls, but my main guitar for the past few years has been a Greco MM-650 Joan Jett Melody Maker - a Japanese guitar made in the ‘80s as a replica of Joan Jett’s guitar. I love this guitar, and I’ve never seen another one. My second most used guitar would be an Indonesian Squier Telecaster, which is another awesome playing guitar. My acoustic is a Martin HD-28. I mostly record through PodFarm 2, but lately I also use a Marshall Class 5, which is a real amp and not just a drawing of one. In the past, I’ve used a 1966 Fender Champ a lot, which rules. “The Girl At The Video Game Store” was recorded with a Les Paul studio through a very early Crank Rev Junior. Schwang.
My current bass is the Fender Geddy Lee Jazz bass. For years before that I used a Squier 2 bass. I don’t like anything too fancy. I usually record bass through the Universal Audio 6176. Bomp.
Sometimes I use either a Moog Source of Minimoog for synths sounds, but they are a pain to use, so it’s not too often. Fizzle.
HMX: How did you get involved with the Rock Band Network?
PG: Well, G4’s Attack Of The Show did a segment on converting music to Rock Band, and they used “The Girl At The Video Game Store” as their demo song. The guy who did the converting was Matt at Gamerbeats, who was awesome. He suggested doing some more songs, and the rest is plastic guitar history.
HMX: Do you play Rock Band yourself? If so, what's your favorite instrument?
PG: I have played it, but I am so terrible at it that it is discouraging. My coordination skills aren’t very good, and my singing pitch is terrible. If ever there was a game designed to make me feel inept, it is Rock Band.
HMX: What do you think of video games as a way for people to discover new music?
PG: Yeah, it seems like a great way for people to discover music. When I was a kid, you’d watch MTV to learn about bands, or go to a record store where some guy would talk your ear off about Hüsker Dü. But that stuff is over.
HMX: Is there an actual girl at the video game store that inspired "The Girl At the Video Game Store"?
PG: Yes, and the store was actually in the mall down from Sears. When I was working on the Hallmark Hoops & Yoyo CD, my routine was to get up in the morning and drive to the Starbucks at the mall, listening to the work I had done the previous day in the car. At the time, the Wii had just come out and I was determined to get one. So, I’d get my coffee, and then walk over to the Game Stop which would just be opening. For about three weeks I’d check in at the store every morning and ask if the Wii’s had come in. There was a girl who worked there who I am certain thought that I was stalking her. She’d say, “You know, you can just call on the phone.” Eventually, I got the Wii from her, so it worked out in the end.
HMX: What are your favorite five kinds of nachoes?
PG: I prefer five plates of one nacho type. Cheese, beans and chips. Keepin’ it simple.
HMX: You mentioned your work for greeting card stars Hoops & Yoyo. Can you tell us a little about how you got involved in that and what it’s like to hear your music in greeting cards?
PG: Working with the Hoops & Yoyo people at Hallmark was awesome. They were very friendly and easy going. And, If I was working on another project with them, they’d probably make me sign a Non Disclosure Agreement, so I wouldn’t be able to talk about it.
Hearing your own music come out of greeting card is weird. It is not a great medium for listening to music. I sound whiney enough without coming out of a tinny little speaker.
HMX: Can you tell us a bit about your involvement with Buffy the Vampire Slayer?
PG: May old band Nerf Herder’s debut CD came out as they were filming the first season of the series, and some of the cast members would listen to it on the set. I guess Joss Whedon became sort of familiar with us. He called me out of the blue one day, explained who he was, and that the music that they had commissioned for his new series wasn’t quite what they wanted. He was asking all kinds of bands to come up with ideas, and in the end he really liked ours. He was awesome to work for. A super nice guy. I love the show, so it has been great to be a part of it. We were asked to be last band on the show when the series was ending. You can see my elbow for about half a second in the third to last episode!
HMX: How many nerfs would Nerf Herder herd if Nerf Herder could herd nerfs?
PG: Only George Lucas knows for sure.
HMX: Any advice for aspiring musicians?
PG: First, always have a hamster in your video. Also, find a guy who owns a van and make him your bass player. Seriously though, just play what you like and don’t be afraid to make a mistakes in front of people.
HMX: Any last words for the Rock Band community?
PG: Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom.