There were two earth-shattering events that took place in Los Angeles in 1994: the Northridge earthquake and the birth of Tenacious D, the self-proclaimed two headed love child of Molly Hatchet, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath.
Starting out as a mini-series on US channel HBO, Jack Black and Kyle Gass rocked the socks off all who heard them. Now seven years on, with a platinum album and dvd under their belts, they have finally made it onto the big screen.
Sitting in The Soho Hotel, I am told that the pair have just got off the plane and there was an altercation at the airport. Twenty minutes later they are sat in front of me as if nothing had happened. This is, after all, Tenacious D – the greatest band on earth.
So what happened at the airport?
Kyle Gass: Yeah…I ran a paparazzi guy over this morning. If he sues me…I’m a little frightened.
Jack Black: As soon as we came off the plane he was taking pictures and Kyle went into security mode.
KG: It often seems like that but I’m just trying to get in the picture.
JB: …and he steamrolled the guy, the guy didn’t see him coming. He immediately claimed he had whiplash. I think he hurt is lower lumbar, but, I have to say, he was being a bit wimpy.
The movie has been mooted for quite some time. Why has it taken so long until a film has been made?
KG: We will serve no ‘D 1’ before it is ‘D time’
JB: Why did it take so long to be mooted out? It just had to be perfect. All the planets had to align. We didn’t want to roll out a stinker. We didn’t have a time limit and this was our masterwork so we took our sweet-ass time about it.
Did it go through many incarnations before you arrived at this story?
KG: It did. We thought we could get away with not writing it. We tried…
JB: We hired some top writers, some top thundersquad bringers, but they squirted out something that was sub-par. It was “Tenacious D saves the city of Atlantis. The devil is there and there is a hot ninja girl we were fighting over”… It sounds pretty good actually. But at the time we read it, we thought it wasn’t really our sense of humour. So, we sat down for…five years, and didn’t do any writing and then, in the last three weeks, we wrote it.
Was writing your film similar to writing your music?
JB: Well me and Kyle will fight a lot about little details and sometimes I think he’s fighting me just because he wants to win something.
KG: Have you ever tried to have an orgasm without friction? It won’t work.
JB: Friction is what makes it. I mean, even Shakespeare probably had to fight with his silent partner…Larry. In terms of the process of writing, we started with a sentence. This was the breakthrough. We just had to tell the true tale of ‘the D’. It’s the origin episode. We’ll start before there was a ‘D’, you’ll see us form the band and then go on our first epic journey to become the greatest band on earth.
How would you describe your music to someone who is not familiar with Tenacious D?
JB: We have been called the heavy metal Simon and Garfunkel by…me, I said that.
KG: We have ripped off a lot of the rock gods. I mean it’s impossible not to. A lot of the chords I use have been used before.
I guess the same ‘rock gods’ approve of your work as they have given approval to the film and some are actually in it?
JB: Yeah, we’ve got three rock gods. We got Satan, Sasquatch and Meatloaf. We also have Dave Grohl.
In the film, Kyle, you teach Jack how to play guitar. Did Jack reciprocate by giving you any camera tips?
KG: Yeah, actually Jack is really good at acting stuff. A lot of the time I’m like “Jack, Jack…What do I…how do I…be funny right here?…”
JB: (interrupting) No. He doesn’t like to take tips. He bristles and the rooster tail goes up.
KG: No, Jack is pretty generous though with his help.
Were there any falling outs over who got the biggest trailer?
KG: Actually about ten minutes ago, we each investigated each other’s suite to make sure one of us didn’t get a larger one. But I’ve had to accept a secondary role.
JB: It’s always been straight down the middle, 50-50.
The film exists on a permanent level of excitement and awesomeness. How do you cope with being so awesome on a daily basis?
KG: That’s a fine question indeed. Well usually I feel kind of normal and kind of lame, and then I’ll go to the coffee shop and then someone will say “You Rock” and then I remember how awesome I am.
JB: I mostly stay in my golden bubblecage. But, I just had a son. I took him to the paediatrician a couple of days ago and she was measuring his head and apparently it’s in the 86th percentage of heads meaning that only 14% of the population has a bigger head than him…and that’s it. So he’s got a huge head. Then she measured my head and she was shocked because I was in the hundredth percent; less than 1% of the world’s population has a bigger head than mine…
KG: I think that leaves The Elephant Man and myself.
JB: I guess that means I’m pretty full of myself…or that I have one huge brain.
So Jack, now you’re a father are you keen to pass on the gift of rock to your son?
JB: Is it a gift?
It is a gift.
JB: Wrap it up. The kids seem like they always rebel against whatever the parents try to push on them so I’m going to pretend like I don’t want him to hear the rock. Then he will want it more than anything in the world.
Who would be in your fantasy band, living or dead?
JB: I’d have Mozart on bass and Bach on the Clavalier.
KG: I’d go Beethoven on keys. On drums, I’d go with the first caveman.
JB: Really though, you got to go Hendrix on the electrics and me baby. You got to put yourself in the fantasy band otherwise it’s someone else’s fantasy.
What can fans expect from your UK tour?
JB: Well in the past, we’ve gone on tour with no production whatsoever; just to hoard all of the money possible. So, we’d plug into a toaster over. But this time we are really going all out, we are actually losing money on the tour because we want to give back TO THE FANS.
KG: We are going to build our own instruments during the concert and we thought it would be like Pink Floyd: The Wall…
JB: It’s gonna be better than The Wall. We start off in Kyle’s apartment then we move into hell; we’ve created the whole landscape of hell. Then we pick up a band in hell because when you’re in hell, you have the choice of any musician. It’s kind of theatrical, they’ll be a movie.
KG: We were able to get Colonel Sanders on drums. He killed a billion chickens people. We should stop telling people stuff. That’s it. That’s a taste of the tour.
You are part of a group of actors known as ‘the frat pack’. How did this group originate and do you plan on appearing in each other’s movies in the foreseeable future?
KG: I’m not in the frat pack.
JB: No, but I am. Haha. I don’t know it’s up to Ben Stiller. It originated inside his secret lair in the Hollywood sign and we meet up and he decides what we do and sends us out in our golden fratpack helicopters. He says “Vince, Owen, go crash some weddings”, “Will, go be funny”, “Jack go ROCK OUT”. That’s what happens because that’s what I do. I rock.