Let It D: Tenacious D, The Greatest Band in the World (or Maybe the Second Greatest, They’re Still Working That Out)
As the world awaits the return of Tenacious D, with their third album, Rize of The Fenix set for a spring release, we look back to our November 2006 cover story on Jack Black, Kyle Gass and the majesty that is the D…
What if everything you knew or thought you knew about Tenacious D was WRONG? (Deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. Tenderly stroke that Burrito Supreme as the magnitude of this seeps in.)
Then gorge yourself and move on.
Frankly, you probably know just about everything you need to know about the D. If you’re a neophyte, what you need to know is that despite the acoustic guitars and oft-angelic vocal harmonies, Tenacious D is all about the bombast. And the Backstage Bettys. And Beelzebub (or is all that too B for the D?).
It seems to be working. What pair can inspire Foo Fighters guitarist Dave Grohl to return to the drum-kit and achieve Nirvana once again? Who else has been selected to open shows by such a wide array of groups as Tool, Weezer and the String Cheese Incident? What two artists are so self-actualized, so free, as to extol the splendor of Sasquatch and Metamucil?
The answer (lest you think all that was rhetorical) is Jack Black and Kyle Gass. In 1991 the two were members of the Actor’s Gang theatre troupe in Los Angeles (Tim Robbins serves as the artistic director), when the moment came to contribute to the Gang’s weekly coffeehouse variety show.
Recalls Black, “We had an assignment because the Actor’s Gang was doing it once a week at this place called Highland Grounds and we were like, ‘What are we going to contribute?’ Kyle lived in an apartment on Cochrane Avenue, called the Cockroach, where we would smoke a lot of pot and jam. So we decided we should play live and write the greatest song in the world.”
This was an endeavor he had taken on once before: “There was a shitty song before I met Kyle and it goes like this… ‘To understand this song you’re going to have to take a cosmic leap, and you better bring a rope because the lyrics are so deep…’ It was going to be the greatest song in the world but I bailed on it.”
As would Black and Gass, who foundered for a few days before composing “Tribute,” a paean to the greatest song which they then brought to Highland Grounds. When they took the stage, in addition to all matters metal, another “seminal influence” (a phrase no doubt favored by the D) was Sting.
Gass explains, “Our sketch was based on Dream of the Blue Turtles. Sting could be kind of pretentious and he had a news conference where he said, ‘So many documentaries are about the end of a band but this is about the beginning of a band.’ And I thought that was funny, so I started talking about how we’re starting a band, and there was another member and then halfway through we lost him and played ‘Tribute.’ But after that performance we took three years off. We didn’t know how it worked, really, how to get gigs because we were just actors and we really weren’t versed in the club scene or anything.”
The pair resurfaced in the mid-‘90s, performing five- to ten-minute sets in alternative comedy shows, which often featured fellow performers such as Ben Stiller and Janeane Garafalo. In 1999, an association with Mr. Show’s David Cross and Bob Odenkirk yielded six HBO comedic shorts, Tenacious D: The Greatest Band on Earth and the world domination began in earnest.
After something of a fallow period, the D looms once again as a triple threat. Black and Gass star in the feature film, Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny (directed by Liam Lynch, who co-wrote the script and previously worked with the group on its “Tribute” video, as well as a series of short films that appear on The Complete Master Works DVD). An accompanying soundtrack will showcase the group’s new compositions and feature a number of familiar faces from the D’s titled release, including Grohl and producer John King (who is going it solo this time, without fellow Dust Brother, Mike Simpson). In addition, Tenacious D will return to “The Road” it celebrates in song, with stops in Europe as well as the U.S.
Relix sat down with the D in late September, at New York’s Grammercy Park Hotel. At times, when speaking with Black and Gass, the pair break off to converse with themselves in a manner akin to twins who have developed their own lexicon while living in the wilds of Hades raised by Satan’s minions (if not the Big Guy himself). Plus, of course, there is also that duality whereby Tenacious D features Kyle Gass and Jack Black taking on the characters of Kyle Gass and Jack Black. Feel free to pick that lockbox, while they bring the Thunder and Let It D…
Golden Bloom stopped by Relix to perform a tune from their latest EP No Day Like Today.
The Chapin Sisters share an tune from their new album A Date With the Everly Brothers.
Minneapolis-based Night Moves share a song from their record, Colored Emotions, live at Relix.
Cloud Cult share a song from their latest album live at Relix.
The Giving Tree Band enjoy a spring day on the Relix rooftop, while performing a classic Grateful Dead tune.
Canadian singer-songwriter Hayden performs a duet with his sister-in-law Lou Canon. The song appears on Us Alone his first record on Broken Social Scene’s Arts & Crafts Productions.
The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
Ron Sexsmith visits the Relix office to perform a tune from his latest record Forever Endeavor.
Crystal Bowersox stops by Relix to perform a song from her new album, All That For This.
- The National "Don’t Swallow the Cap" on Letterman
- A Great Night in Harlem (A Gallery)
- "Friend of The Devil": Elvis Costello, Lyle Lovett, Grace Potter, Keller Williams, Ministry…
- American Idol’s Randy Jackson To Produce Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds
- Covering Relix: The Doors (April 1991)
- Spin Doctors: If the River Was Whiskey
- Ray Manzarek, Founding Member of The Doors, Passes Away at 74
- Golden Bloom "Flying Mountain"
- Interlocken Festival to Feature Neil Young, Furthur, String Cheese Incident, Black Crowes, Zac Brown and More
- The Salvation of Page McConnell (Relix Revisited)
- Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis Tried to Form Supergroup with Paul McCartney
- Weir’s Here: On TRI, RatDog and Solo Gigs
- Warren Haynes and Joe Bonamassa "If Heartaches Were Nickels"
- The Final Ingredient in Dogfish Head’s Grateful Dead Tribute Ale Is…
- Stone Gossard Readies His Moonlander
- Trey Anastasio Band at The Hangout (Video Stream)
- Doctor’s Orders: So what should we call the Super Ball IX Newspaper?
- John Kadlecik Posts Statement on Bob Weir’s Collapse
- "I Wanne Be In moe.": The Latest Volunteers
- Bob Weir Escorted Off Stage During Furthur Show
- Furthur Cancels BottleRock Show as Bob Weir Is Out Of Commision
- Vote for Your Favorite "I Wanne Be In moe." Contestant
- Doctor’s Orders: What’s Your Favorite Furthur Song? (Win Copy of Relix Signed by Phil and Bobby)
- On The Verge Poll