After nearly 10 years, Santa Barbara, California geek-rock quartet Nerf Herder has managed to escape the fate of like-minded novelty bands. On its latest, the thumping American Cheese
, the group has transcended its trivia-rich name (it's an insult in a fight between Princess Leia and Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back
), potential one-hit-wonder status after 1996's "Van Halen," and the somewhat dubious distinction of having laid down the theme song for UPN's Buffy the Vampire Slayer
. Throw in numerous label and personnel changes, and it's amazing that Nerf Herder has gotten more than its predicted 15 minutes of fame. But with a pair of satisfying pop-rock albums, an EP, and now this fall's headlining tour, the band has more to show for itself than Van Halen has over the same period of time. Just for laughs, set 'em up with a bowl of M&M's with no browns.