Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Nick Luca at New Monkey, Van Nuys, California
Imagine just for a second if there really was a Neverland - sort of like the one that Michael Jackson created for himself, just without all of the creepiness and post-conceived notions of what his play land came to have. Imagine that it's something more like a twisted combination of that Neverland - with monkeys, amusement park rides, a personal movie theater that's always stocked with every candy currently being made and a vault that contained all of the publishing rights not to the Beatles catalog but to Van Halen's - with Hugh Hefner's Playboy Mansion and a whole lot of some man cave that was set up by a Dorito/video game/science fiction-loving nerd who likes his clammy hands, sweatpants and the thought of not leaving the house even once over an entire weekend. It's a place of constant pizza delivery and Twilight Zone, Indiana Jones, Army of Darkness marathons.
It's that safest haven, which will always smell like socks, Cheetos, frosting, old books and horniness. It's a place that's not meant for kids, but for adult-aged men who have acquired a young lifetime's worth of trivial knowledge and who have very particular tastes in music and movies. This is a place where a joke can never be too goofy and the stupider it is, the better it might actually be, the harder it's going to hit and the longer it's going to last. It's this sort of a land that the Santa Barbara band Nerf Herder came from in the mid-to-late 1990s and it's the one that they still occupy in a limited capacity these days, as occasionally respectable married men. Sometimes you'll read about a band that was popular when its members were teenagers - when they were kids - and the music has transcended time so well that they're begged to reunite and play those songs again as middle-aged men. They'll hesitate and voice their apprehension about what those youthful songs are going to sound like, now that they've grown older. So many find that the feeling is still there to be had.
Nerf Herder songs - here performed by original members Parry Gripp and Steve "The Cougar" Sherlock along with bassist Ben Pringle and guitarist Linus of Hollywood -- always came from a place of witty observation, throbbing with a silliness and a proper understanding that, while the sentiments might have been heartfelt, they were still steeped with a winking sarcasm. There are the anthems of pseudo-masculinity, promising some hot babe that one day she'll get smarter and "long for the comfort" of the geek's golf shirt and not the jock's letterman jacket. There are songs about crack dealers, whores and plenty of mentions about whacking off, but every song still circles back to a need to just fit into a perfect world of happiness. It's happiness with girls, action figures, George Lucas movies and shredding on guitars. It's about only growing up enough so that no one will fuck with you or the cool shit that you happen to really like.