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Tenacious D in The Pick Of Destiny - Jack Black/Kyle Gass Interview

Tenacious D in The Pick Of Destiny

Interview by Rob Carnevale

JACK Black and Kyle Gass about Tenacious D in The Pick Of Destiny, rock music and some of their inspirations…

Q. This movie has been mooted for a long time. Why did it take so long to put together?
Jack Black: It has been mooted. It just had to be perfect. All the planets had to align. We didn’t want to make a stinker. We didn’t have a time limit and this was our master work so we took our sweet-ass time about it.

Q. Did it go through many incarnations?
Kyle Gass: It did. We thought we could get away with not writing it. We tried.
Jack Black: We hired some top writers, some top thunder-squad-bringers. But they squared out something that was sub-par. No, actually it was pretty good…
Kyle Gass: Yeah, but for someone else…
Jack Black: It was along the lines of Tenacious D saves the City of Atlantis, and the devil was there, there was a hot ninja girl we were fighting over… Actually, that sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? But at the time we read it we thought it wasn’t really our sense of humour, so we had to nose-to-the-grindstone it and sat down for five years and didn’t do any writing. Then in the last three weeks we wrote it with our friend, Liam Lynch. He was the catalyst for it. He’s a talented composer and filmmaker.

Q. Was the writing process similar to the way you write music?
Jack Black: Well, me and Kyle, we’ll fight a lot about little details. We started with a sentence. This was the breakthrough, it just took us a long time to figure out that we just had to tell the true tale, the origin episode. We started before there was a D. So, you’ll see us form the band and go on the journey, the quest, to become the greatest band on earth.
Kyle Gass: We’ve probably never been in an interview where someone hasn’t asked how we got together, so we thought if we put it in the movie, it’ll answer the question altogether.

Q. Where did you get the inspiration for the music in the film? Who have you ripped off?
Kyle Gass: Woah! Incendiary question!
Jack Black: We’ve been called the heavy metal Simon & Garfunkel. I’ve ripped off a little Meat Loaf, with his theatricality.
Kyle Gass: Probably some Zeppelin. Most of the big dinosaurs of rock. You know, a lot of the chords I use have been used before. So you know, you’re just going to run into some songs.

Q. How do you define your music?
Jack Black: Well, it’s not parody. We don’t rip off other people’s songs and put new funny lyrics to them. We have our own stuff.
Kyle Gass: We try to write the best songs ever and they come out kind of funny. We do a lot of improv and record it.

Q. How do you cope with being so awesome?
Kyle Gass: That’s a fine question indeed. Usually, I feel kind of normal and lame, and then I’ll go to a coffee shop and someone will say: “You rock!” And I remember how awesome I am.
Jack Black: I mostly stay in my golden bubble cage. Actually, I just had a son and had to take him to the paediatrician and he measured his head and apparently he’s in a group in which only 14 per cent of the population have a bigger head than him. Then she said: “Do you mind if I measure your head?” I said: “Go ahead.” And she was shocked, because less than one per cent of the world’s population has a bigger head than mine. So I guess that means I’m pretty full of myself. Or that I have a huge brain.

Q. Who would be in your fantasy band, alive or dead?
Jack Black: I’d go Mozart on bass. Bach on the clavier.
Kyle Gass: On drums I’m going to go with the first cave man. Dude, you’re on it.
Jack Black: You’ve gotta go Hendrix on the electric.
Kyle Gass: The weird thing is that I wouldn’t be in my band. I’d just like to watch.
Jack Black: You’ve got to put yourself in the fantasy band otherwise it’s someone else’s fantasy.

Q. What can audiences expect from the forthcoming live UK tour?
Jack Black: Well, in the past when we’ve been on tour, it’s just me and Kyle with no production whatsoever, just to hoard as much of the money as possible. This time we’re really going all out. We’re actually losing money on this tour because we want to do something for the fans. It’s going to be better than The Wall. It starts in Kyle’s apartment and ends up in hell. We’ve recreated the entire landscape.

Q. Who’s idea was it to send up the Catherine Zeta-Jones heist sequence in Entrapment?
Jack Black: Ah, the laser deactivation scene, I know there’s been a lot of them. But I think this one takes it to the next level. We have a rule in the States that says erect penises are not allowed. Flaccid penises? You can show them all day, but once you go erect – it’s taboo. So, we solved it by covering it with tighty-whities. But you can still see the mushroom cap outline. And I’m hoping that pushes us into the XXX rating. It wasn’t sexual.

Q. Have you received any protests about the album’s lyrics?
Kyle Gass: When we were here at Brixton Academy recently, we actually hired a priest to protest.
Jack Black: We want the protestors. But they never came, so we hired one and he got attacked. So we had to pay him off. We don’t condone that kind of violence so we stopped hiring actors to play priests.

Q. Jack, you’re a dad now, are you going to pass on the gift of rock to your son?
Jack Black: Is it a gift? Wrap it up. The thing is, the kids always rebel against what the parents try to push on them so I’m going to pretend like I don’t want him to hear the rock. I’m going to listen to it only in my private chambers. He’ll hear echoes of it and say: “What was that you were listening to papa?” And I’ll say: “Nothing son, you’re not ready.”

Q. What does it feel like to be considered a part of Hollywood’s Frat Pack?
Jack Black: It originated when Ben Stiller called all the comedians over to his headquarters inside the Hollywood sign. He spent a billion dollars burrowing out a secret lair. Tim Robbins works the door. And we have special Frat Pack comedy helicopters that come out the O. We meet up and talk about what our plan is to dominate the world of comedy: “Will [Ferrell], you take the new Christmas movie. Jack [Black], you go rock. Ben [Stiller], go do romantic lead, a Jew with anxiety…”

Q. Was it difficult to try and make this film appeal to people who are not necessarily Tenacious D fans already?
Kyle Gass: Yeah, because if just the fans came, it would probably only make about $10,000. So we had had to broaden it out.
Jack Black: That’s not true dude! We would make over a millions dollars. But that’s still not enough.

Q. What do you think about the state of rock today?
Jack Black: There’s some good bands. It’s not like an exciting scene like it was in olden times, or even like it was in the early 90s. There’s no real movement now, is there? Or am I out of touch? But I like some bands. There’s still some good bands coming out of Detroit and Perth, Australia. I just wanted to say an Australian city that wasn’t Sydney.

Read our review of The Pick Of Destiny

View photos from the film