Parry Gripp is most definitely living the dream of most any serious geek with a guitar. As the writer and creator of the theme song for the new “Ben 10: Omniverse” animated series on Cartoon Network, Gripp’s nerdy pedigree is being put to good use. The product of his musical imagination blares from countless televisions at 9 a.m. on Saturday mornings as kids soak up the cartoon action against a soundtrack of his creation.
Parry Gripp in Japan
Yet, it all makes sense. Gripp was lead vocalist and guitarist for Nerf Herder, a band whose name is a direct reference to a derogatory term used in the “Star Wars” universe. Nerf Herder’s pop culture-infused poppy punk anthems, including “Van Halen,” help put them on the map in the mid-’90s. The group even wrote and performed the to theme to the “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” TV series.
Gripp went on to carve out his own solo career and continues sinking his teeth into TV themes, including the bouncy, Devo-esque tune heard at the beginning of “Ben 10: Omniverse.” We recently had the opportunity to chat with Gripp about being a musical nerd done good.
MTV Geek: So how did you get the “Ben 10: Omniverse” gig?
Parry Gripp: Well, that’s very simple. They actually contacted me out of the blue. I got an email that said, “Hey, we want to talk to you.” And they said that they had heard the music that I had done for the Marvel “Super Hero Squad Show,” which is also on Cartoon Network, and they liked that. And also someone involved with “Ben 10” was an old-time fan of my old band, Nerf Herder. So they said they wanted me to do the theme. I assumed they’d get a whole bunch of people submitting stuff, but they just had me do it.
Geek: How did you approach the “Ben 10” theme differently than your other work?
Gripp: Well, it was really intimidating, because the first “Ben 10” theme was done by this guy named Andy Sturmer, who is really awesome. He had written this great theme, and he had also done the “Teen Titans” theme. I’m a huge fan of this guy. He was in that band Jellyfish. Anyway, I was like, “Oh, man. I can’t compete with this dude.” But they said they wanted a kind of fun, action-packed song. And it could only be 20 seconds, which sort of limits what you can do, because that’s kind of short. So I put together a bunch of ideas and sent it all to them. They picked the one they liked, and that’s what we went with.
Geek: You’re obviously a serious geek in your own right. What are some of your own geeky pleasures?
Gripp: Of course, I’m an old “Star Wars” fan going way back. And I was a super computer nerd in high school, which was a very long time ago. ...I love “Dr. Who,” and of course I love “Buffy The Vampire Slayer.” Nerf Herder did the theme song for “Buffy The Vampire Slayer.” But we got lucky, because we loved the show, too. It’s funny, because when Nerf Herder started, we just thought we were a band that was cool. Then people were like, “Oh wait, I get it. You guys are supposed to be nerds.” So we were sort of like, “Uh, yeah. We’re nerds. That’s what we’re trying to do.” [Laughs] So it’s just natural for me.
Geek: You say it’s natural. How does your background make you perfect for this kind of work?
Gripp: “Ben 10” has this awesome science fiction angle. It kind of has some similarities to something like “Dr. Who” where you have all of these crazy aliens and different scenarios like that. So I think when they were talking to me about it, one thing they mentioned was they wanted a sort of retro science fiction thing going on. So there’s a synthesizer line that has a little bit of that retro, old-time science fiction vibe to it. I love science fiction, so it was sort of easier because of that.
Gripp: I could go on forever about this. There’s this old theme song to a show called “The Rockford Files.” That theme song is awesome, and it’s one of the greatest songs ever. I was actually up to do the theme for “Parks and Recreation,” and someone else got it. But I really love what they came up with.
Geek: What would be your dream TV theme song gig?
Gripp: I would love to do a theme for “Dr. Who.” But “Ben 10” is a dream.