Parry Gripp Talks Star Wars, Crowdfunding for Nerf Herder, and The 7D

SLEEPY, DOC, HAPPY, GRUMPY, BASHFUL, DOPEY, SNEEZY
Disney’s The 7D is a contemporary, comedic take on the world of the Seven Dwarfs. It premieres this Monday, July 7, on Disney XD. Photo: Disney Channel.

Forget Snow White and her many big-budget Hollywood films (like this one and this one). The Seven Dwarfs are the ones making a big comeback.

Disney World recently opened the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, a rocking roller coaster that’s so popular, it typically has a 70-minute wait. However, for those not traveling to “The Most Magical Place On Earth” anytime soon, there’s The 7D.

The upcoming Disney show will re-introduce the Seven Dwarfs to an entirely new audience. Along with a new look and new storylines, there will be new music. That will be provided by Parry Gripp, vocalist/guitarist for the geek-rock gods of Nerf Herder and well-known YouTube sensation. (For instance, check out “Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom” and “Baby Monkey (Going Backwards On A Pig)” for a whole lot of cuteness and a little bit of earworm.)

Recently, I got the chance to talk to Gripp about his music, his membership in the Star Wars Fan Club, and his role in the upcoming Disney show, The 7D.

GeekMom: So how did you get the Disney gig?

Parry Gripp: What happened is that someone at Disney became familiar with my YouTube videos—I have these goofy videos like “Hamster On a Piano” and “Baby Monkey (Going Backwards On A Pig)”—and they said, “Hey, we should bring this guy in and have him pitch show ideas.” So they called me out of the blue, I went down there, and I was talking to someone about pitching ideas, but the head of the music department at Disney Television Animation, Jay Stutler, grabbed me and said, “Hey, why don’t you pitch some song ideas for these different shows?” And Jay is the guy who is responsible for all of the great Sophia music and Jake and the Never Land Pirates, and all of the music for Disney Television Animation is so great. Anyway, it was a real honor that he asked me to do that. He had me pitch ideas for a bunch of different shows and The 7D was the show that clicked with my style.

GM: The theme song is quite perky and fun! How important is music to the show? Can we expect stuff like that in every episode?

PG: Music is very important to the show. I wrote a lot of songs for this first season. I think I wrote 120 songs! It’s a lot of songs, but some of them are really short. I’d say that it’s really important, but the style actually varies quite a bit. I would say that most of the music is not quite like the theme song, which is really rocking. A lot of it is kind of whimsical, depending on what the circumstance is. One of my favorite songs is about the Jollywood Spa, where the Queen goes. This is just a total disco song. It sounds like it’s from 1978 or something. That was really fun to do. There’s really a variety of music. In general, I’d say that the music is very upbeat and fun.

GM: It’s a very musical program, though?

PG: That’s true. And I don’t do the orchestration, but there’s a lot of really beautiful orchestration that kind of carries the story. I’m not responsible for that. That’s a guy named Keith Horn, who is marvelous at it. He’s taken themes from the different songs and worked them into the underscore.

GM: Most of our readers haven’t seen the show yet, since it debuts on Monday. So how would you describe The 7D?

PG: It is really funny. I would say that’s the main thing. It’s very funny with fast-paced humor, the voice actors are all hysterical, and the writing… I think that little kids will like the show because it’s cute. But the comedy works on two levels, so I think that adults are going to like the show, too. Tom Ruegger, who’s the creator of the show, is a genius at this. He created a show called Animaniacs years ago, which is a famous and wonderful series. I think that if you like Animaniacs, you’re really going to like this show. It has a similar slapsticky, fast-paced humor to it. I’m really excited. I think it’s going to be great.

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KEITH HORN (COMPOSER), PARRY GRIPP (COMPOSER)
Composers Keith Horn (left) and Parry Gripp (right) at a screening for The 7D. Photo: Rick Rowell/Disney XD.

GM: I want to talk a little bit about Nerf Herder. There’s an album coming soon, correct?

PG: That’s right; we’re working on an album. It’s sort of a hobby for us, so us old-timers can hang out together and goof around.

GM: Why did you opt to go the crowdfunding route for the upcoming album?

PG: We kind of thought, well… a lot people are doing it, what an interesting way to go about making a record. I don’t know that we would have made a record if we didn’t do it this way. How do I explain this? Like, we could have gone to a label and said, “Hey, can you give us some money?” Or we could have paid for it out of our pockets to do it. But this idea of kind of getting inspired… and crowdfunding kind of makes it exciting for the band. It just seemed like kind of a fun thing to try.

GM: Obviously, Nerf Herder has geeky roots… and I know that you were a member of the Star Wars Fan Club a long, long time ago.

PG: Yes, that’s true! I’ll have to send you a picture of my card—my “May the Force Be With You” original membership card. And the thing that I have, that my sister and I have been sitting on for years, is… for some reason, we got an extra membership pack from the Star Wars Fan Club. This is probably from 1978 or something like that. We’ve got this cardboard tube and it says “Star Wars Fan Club” on it. It almost looks like it’s hand-typed or something and it hasn’t been opened yet. So we’ve kind of been keeping it like a time capsule. I don’t know when we’ll open that.

But when Star Wars first came out, it was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. Every weekend during the summer when it came out, we would go to the movie theater and see it multiple times. And it’s cool to be working for Disney now that they own Star Wars. It’s really exciting.

GM: So are you excited about Episode VII?

PG: Oh yeah; I’m excited about it. The original three episodes are the ones that I personally love, because that’s sort of what I grew up with it. But I’m excited for anything to do with it. I’m sure it will be great.

GM: Back to animation: I know you got to be animated on Phineas and Ferb? Will you make it into The 7D at some point?

PG: I don’t know. I don’t really like looking at myself on-screen, so it’s fine with me if that didn’t happen. If they animated a hamster or something and called it Parry, that would be cool. My voice is in it a lot; I get to sing a lot in the show, which is great for me and that is plenty good.

GM: What Disney character is your favorite or do you most identify with?

PG: I’d say that with The 7D, I relate mostly to the character Happy. I’m a pretty good-natured guy and I like signing and I like happy stuff. That’s the interesting thing about The 7D, I kind of relate to all of the characters at different times. Like when I’m behind on my deadline, I get pretty “Grumpy.” There’s a character on the show called Lord Starchbottom, who is sort of the cool assistant. He’s always freaking out about stuff, and sometimes I feel like that one. Mostly, I’d say Happy.

Check out Parry Gripp’s YouTube channel for all sorts of quirky, perky songs. Otherwise, look for The 7D on Monday, July 7, 2014, on Disney XD and later this fall on the Disney Channel and Disney Junior.