Nerdiness – San Bernardino Sun

As a kid, Hal Sparks was encouraged to refine his skills as a musician, and now the actor is channeling that into his inner David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar.

Sparks is the frontman of Nerd Halen, a Van Halen cover band whose members wear collared shirts, sweater vests and taped-up glasses.

“Instead of trying draw off the coolness of Van Halen, which is impossible to do, except for in my private life, we’re able to build this fun silly act,” Sparks said.

The band will perform at Rock & Brews inside Yaamava’ Resort & Casino on Friday, April 1.

Sparks is known for hosting VH1’s “I Love the…” and starring in TV show “Queer as Folk.”  But his role of Zoltan in the late 2000 comedy “Dude, Where’s My Car?” has had staying power. The character’s signature hand motion that puts the left hand on top of the right one with the thumbs extended and touching to form a “Z,” has become the official winning hand sign for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

While Sparks is known for his acting, hosting and stand-up comedy, his musical career began in his youth.

Sparks took vocals lessons and learned to play the guitar, bass and mandolin. His father was a bluegrass musician, and in his household, learning to play an instrument well was valued for its role in brain development but also as a service to the craft.

“In my family, if you’re going to pick up an instrument, you’re going to learn how to play it well out of respect for the instrument and everyone who plays it,” Sparks said. “Same thing with singing. If you’re going to open your mouth, you owe it to the audience not to annoy them.”

Sparks was in multiple bands in his high school years, but would later start projects such as his metal band Zero 1 and Nerd Halen.

Nerd Halen’s inception occurred one night when guitarist Caleb Rapoport, who Sparks described as a Van Halen shipper since day one, approached him about becoming the frontman to his vision which fused the iconic music with a nerdy comedic presentation. Sparks was immediately on board.

“It was such a good idea and an instantly fun thing to do,” Sparks said. “Everywhere we go and every show we do, people get smiles on their faces. If you can get smiles on faces these days, that’s a win.”

Sparks said it’s challenging to do the vocals for both the Van Halen and Van Hagar eras of the band because of the different octaves each singer is known for and their unique styles.

He said everyone in the band brings a different approach to covering Van Halen by providing different favorite songs leading to a diverse setlist. Sparks said they thrive on sounding and performing as closely to Van Halen as possible out of respect for the band and the fans.

“If you’re a Van Halen fan, it’ll drive you nuts, and if you’re a casual listener, you’ll enjoy the music and the show in the same way you would if you found yourself at a Van Halen show,” Sparks said.

If you go

When: 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Friday, April 1.

Where: Rock & Brews at Yaamava’ Resort & Casino, 777 San Manuel Blvd, Highland

Admission: Free, 21 and over only. Reservations are encouraged.


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