Parry Gripp’s YouTube hits include Shopping Penguin, Spaghetti Cat, and Hamster on a Piano. He’s been called a Weird Al Jankovic for the internet age. But it might be more accurate to say that Parry Gripp a leading light of the YouTube artist movement.
The Rumpus: Where did you grow up? What was it like?
Parry Gripp: I grew up in Santa Barbara, California. I am still growing here.
Rumpus: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Gripp: I wanted to be a computer programmer. Mainly, I was interested in computer graphics.
Rumpus: What was your first job?
Gripp: I worked at a computer store called Personal Electronics.
Rumpus: Who was your first crush?
Gripp: The Bionic Woman, Lindsay Wagner. She was incredibly hot for a part-android/part-woman.
Rumpus: How did you get into music? What was the first instrument that you attempted to play?
Gripp: I always liked music. I remember going bonkers for the theme song to the Pirates Of The Caribbean ride at Disneyland when I was a little kid. My first instrument was piano, because I had to take lessons, but the first real instrument of my choosing was the bass. When I was 16 I was really into the band Rush, and my mom bought me a nacho-cheese colored Fender Mustang so I could learn to play like Geddy Lee. Man, I could never play like that guy. I really wish I still had that bass.
Rumpus: This might seem like a softball question: Do you think that the value of humor increases in times of national peril?
Gripp: I sure hope so. I am banking on that.
Rumpus: What did you do following 9/11 professionally?
Gripp: Nerf Herder was pretty active then. We were touring a lot. I remember we went to Australia a couple of weeks after the attacks. That was weird. People over there treated us like our mom had just died.
Rumpus: Tell me about Nerf Herder. It sounds like you guys have a shit-ton of fun. Was that your first band?
Gripp: Nerf Herder was pretty fun. That was our schtick. Look at us, we’re having fun! I was in several bands before Nerf Herder, but just small time, back yard stuff.
Rumpus: Have you ever gotten in a fist fight?
Gripp: Oh, no. I am afraid of conflict. Although, in Nerf Herder, if someone was heckling us I would sometimes act like I was going to kick the person’s ass, knowing that security would throw the dude out before I ever got into an actual beating. That worked like a charm, every time!
Rumpus: Do you enjoy playing live and touring or do you like the creative process of songwriting better?
Gripp: Songwriting is much better. That is pure fun. Touring is okay for about a week, and then you want to go home.
Rumpus: How do you go about making the Songs Of The Week? Is it really demanding?
Gripp: Well, I am pretty lazy about it, as you might notice from looking at how many songs I still need to put up there. I don’t spend that much time at it. If I am lucky, an idea will just pop into my head. For example, I’ll be walking along, or driving, maybe taking out the garbage, or toasting a bagel, and I’ll think of a title, like, “That Banana Looks Funny.” Then I’ll get a little tune going a long with it. I like to have it mostly figured out in my head before I sit down and start recording.
Rumpus: What’s your day-to-day life like? Do you do anything other than make people laugh? What’s your day job?
Gripp: My family owns an orchid nursery here in Santa Barbara. I have worked here on and off my whole life. Currently, I live next door to the nursery, so I’ll walk over there, do some of the FedEx shipping, come back over to my house, work on some music, and then go back over, eat a donut, come back here, check my email, etc. From overhead I probably look like the ball in a very slow game of pong.
Rumpus: Have you ever made a video that you didn’t like?
Gripp: I am big on self-loathing, so I suppose of most of my videos I don’t really “like.” There are parts that I think, “Ha! That is kind of funny.” But mostly, I try to focus on the bad. That is how I roll.
Rumpus: Do you prefer waffles or pancakes?
Gripp: I like to switch it up. Both of them are great. And I really like French toast. I invented a recipe where you basically just dip toast in melted vanilla ice cream and cook it. Honestly, this is the best idea I ever had.
Rumpus: A lot of nerd lovers have crushes on you. Do you have a special someone in your life?
Gripp: Crushes on me? That is crazy talk. As unlikely as it seems, I am married.