After some licks from critics and fans for their 2006 album and film, The Pick of Destiny, Tenacious D return undaunted and ready to kick some ass. The Hollywood-based comedic rock duo of Jack Black and Kyle Gass purportedly almost called it a day after Destiny was deemed a box office bomb, a crisis they acknowledge on songs from their new album Rize of the Fenix. Featuring drumming by old pal Dave Grohl, Tenacious D are certain that, at bare minimum, this record will blow fans' minds. "It's kind of like a combination of a great explosive orgasm and the most satisfying donkey crap that you could ever take," Black says over the phone. "If you can imagine those two things happening at the same time."
"So, it's really an extension of your best qualities," Gass counters.
"And worst," Black replies. "My best and worst."
What are your current fixations?
Black: I really like Dexter and... what's the one with the crystal meth? Breaking Bad. I'm also into this Girls show. Also, my friend Mike White has a good show that I love called Enlightened; definitely worth checking out.
Gass: I'm fixated on American Idol and the Lakers' road to the championship right now.
JB: Cage, that's not very indie of you.
KG: (laughs) I know. I love those kids though.
JB: That's the new indie-cred; admitting that you're a commercial cheese.
Why do you live where you do?
KG: Well, we're both in show business, so that's where the biz is.
JB: Oh, why do we live in Los Angeles? Yeah, I was born and raised here so I don't know anything else. I've always been proud to have been born and raised here because it's the entertainment capitol of the universe. Although sometimes I do long for a small town, with small town values and small town community. Like maybe Seattle or Chicago.
Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art.
JB: Oh, I'll go with Salvador Dali. He always makes me feel like I'm on acid. Or Hieronymus Bosch, when he paints the hell paintings? Those are the shizz. Cage, you tell him; what mind-altering art do you like?
KG: Hmmm. Probably Metalocalypse.
JB: Yeah! Those guys are badass. Those guys are huge too. When they go on tour, they pack huge buildings. People love Metalocalypse.
What has been your most memorable or inspirational gig and why?
JB: My first one was pretty amazing. I saw Devo in Santa Monica when I was only like ten years old. My brother had been an engineer on Freedom of Choice, the album that had "Whip It" on it. I remember they played an incredible movie right before the concert started. It was a little short film that they had directed that was dark and twisted. A little comedic, absurd gem ― it was like David Lynch had come in and done a Devo movie. It just got the crowd so into it. And it was like going to see some performance art but then they rocked really hard on top of the performance art. That was a fucking show right there.
KG: Probably Kenny Loggins, 1980 at the Universal Amphitheatre. Just an amazing show. When he busted out "House at Pooh Corner?" Over.
JB: Did he play "Danger Zone"?
KG: No, it was pre-"Danger Zone."
JB: Oh man, you were there before "Danger Zone"! Back when he was really good.
KG: Early Loggins, early Loggins.
What have been your career highs and lows?
JB: My career low? God, there's been a few lately. What's the lowest of the low? I guess my career nadir was probably that bird watching movie [The Big Year] that came out a couple months ago.
KG: (laughs) Oh no, it was good though.
JB: I know it was good but, career-wise, when no one goes to see a movie that you're in with Steve Martin and Owen Wilson, that's when you gotta feel pretty bad. Although I could blame it on Steve Martin.
JB: And I could blame it on Owen Wilson.
KG: Yeah, get them out there.
JB: Yeah, career low. Yeah. Fuck it. Career high? The release of the first Tenacious D album.
JB: That was a high. I'm feeling pretty high. Although, how many stars did we get in Rolling Stone? They didn't give us like a five-star review.
JB: Fuck those fuckers, man. No one respects a clown. Fuck the world. We should go to a different world that respects clowns. Clown World.
KG: Well, besides the D, for a career low, I played a gig with my side band, Trainwreck, in... I forget what town it was, but only three or four people showed up. That was quite painful. It was tough, it was tough.
JB: Was that in Walnut Creek?
KG: It was down south somewhere, I dunno.
JB: Was it your hometown? Where was it?
KG: No it wasn't my hometown. I forget. It was Birmingham or somewhere. It was rough. Rough walters.
What's the meanest thing ever said to you before, during or after a gig?
KG: I remember reading a review of The Pick of Destiny ― it's not really a gig ― but it said "the charisma-free Kyle Gass" [laughs].
JB: Oh god.
KG: That was hard to read.
JB: Yeah, but they're making it sound like charisma is a bad thing. Cuz like, the only time you hear "something-free," it's like, "fat-free" or "carcinogenic-free." So maybe they're saying charisma is bad.
JB: You're free of all that shit.
KG: Yeah, the chains of charisma.
JB: That poisonous charisma. One time, me and Kyle were playing a concert and we were the surprise for this Miller Genuine Draft...
KG: It's called "Blind Date."
JB: I remember that the curtains opened and y'know, people were probably expecting Led Zeppelin or something huge. Whatever ― plug in whoever your favourite band in 2003 was. And people started booing as soon as the curtains opened. We just ploughed ahead because we wanted to get paid. It didn't matter how much they hated us; we had to play what we were contractually obligated to do, which was like 20 minutes. And we're in the middle of the set and I looked into the wings and the guy who was supposed to come out and be Spiderman was like, "Nah, I'm not going out there." We just kept on playing and, I looked in the back of the theatre and I saw a dude holding up two fingers, and I thought he was saying like, "Peace brother," or somehow saying we were good. And I was like, 'Thanks man,' and then he put his two fingers together, intertwined, and then I could see that he was saying something very mean. He was using a derogatory word to say that Kyle and I were lovers. "You guys are…you-know-what." We survived that though. What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger, or so says what's-her-name from American Idol.
What should everyone shut up about?
KG: Oh, the price of gas I guess. Who cares?
JB: Christmas. It's really dumb when people yell about Christmas and the war on Christmas.
What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself?
KG: Hmm… what traits do I most like about myself?
JB: Kyle is texting while we're doing this interview. I definitely don't feel like he's got my back here. He's got some other bigger fish to fry.
KG: Well, he wouldn't have known if you hadn't told him.
JB: I don't care what he knows. All I care is that you're not here to help me out, when I need help.
KG: I like my friendly disposition. I like my intelligence. What I like least is my addictive personality and my tendency towards lethargy.
JB: I really like my penis. I like how it feels when it's inside of a vagina or a mouth. It's one of my greatest attributes, the way it feels when it's inside of things. My least favourite thing is when I have to take a shit and I feel like I'm gonna shit my pants if I don't get to the toilet fast. But there are some great shits too so I don't wanna say it's all bad down there in brown town. I think that pretty much covers it.
What do you think of when you think of Canada?
JB: Progress. Peace. French. Sasquatch.
What song would you like to have played at your funeral?
KG: "Hocus Pocus" by Focus.
JB: [laughs] You're going "Hocus Pocus" Cage? Oh my God, it's hard to top that one. I'm gonna go with 'Start spreading the news…"
KG: "New York, New York"?
JB: Yeah, "New York, New York." The Liza Minnelli version.