By Drew Ailes
By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
By Jena Ardell
By Mary Willson
By Bree Davies
By Tom Murphy
By Tom Murphy
No one was very surprised when Tenacious D -- the duo composed of vocalist/guitarist Jack Black and guitarist/backing vocalist Kyle Gass -- finally made it big. It was clear early on that the D had something special, even if the meager audiences who showed up for weekly open-mike appearances at a Los Angeles club at first failed to recognize that. Armed with nothing more than a pair of acoustic guitars and two microphones, the D experienced a kind of physical catharsis on stage, transporting audiences to that rarely traveled stylistic purgatory between Beethoven, Simon & Garfunkel, Whitesnake and the soundtrack to Jesus Christ Superstar. Demonstrating an almost telepathic connection on stage, Black and Gass braved topics ranging from the martial arts ("With karate I kick your ass/From here to right over there...You broke the rules/Now I'll pull out all your pubic hair" opens "Karate") to friendship ("Kyle Quit") to the pending retirement of Ronnie James Dio ("He has songs of wildebeests and angels/He has soared on the wings of a demon/You're too old to rock/No more rockin' for you"). Tenacious D's performances often left audiences so thoroughly shaken that they were too stunned to clap.
As Comedy Central began documenting the band's ascension to stardom, it not only chronicled the D's live performances, but it offered intimate glimpses into JB and KG's creative process, their friendship and their escapades. When an evil beast commanded the pair to produce the best song in the world, Comedy Central's cameras were rolling, catching every moment of the miraculous event on film. And though the resulting tune was not the greatest song in the world (it was just a tribute), the encounter suggested the boys might be capable of channeling something even mightier than their own hefty selves.
In September, the pair is slated to release its first album on Epic Records. Produced by the Dust Brothers, Tenacious D features cameos by Dave Grohl, Phish's Page McConnell, Warren Fitzgerald of the Vandals and Steve MacDonald from Red Kross. But this new fame hasn't changed Black or Gass: Though their Comedy Central days are over, Black has remained humbly at work at his day job as a character actor, earning a cultish following for his spastically charming performances in High Fidelity and the lesser-seen but no less worthwhile Jesus' Son. Gass, meanwhile, has focused most of his attention on Tenacious D, an outfit that continues to live up to its reputation as "the greatest band in the world."
Westword: You should be warmly embraced in Denver. One of the city's nicknames is "D-Town."
Kyle Gass: Excellent. Dallas's nickname is "the Big D," which was nice, 'cause I'm really into O-Town right now. But I think "D-Town" is better. It will be more appropriate for when we come in and proceed to rock the shit out of the place.
Jack Black: What is the name of the place we are playing? Is it Red Rocks or Red Rock?
WW: It's Red Rocks, plural.
JB: Shit! Goddamn it! I was hoping it was Red Rock, like a new form of music. Like when they first started using the phrase "heavy metal." People would be like, "Well, what kind of rock is it?" And we'd be like, "It's RedRock." Can we do some rock climbing there?
WW: It is severely discouraged.
JB: Shit. Kyle and I are expert rock climbers. We will rappel. Rappel and bounce off of the Red Rock. We will display feats of extreme jackassery. Will we be given some sort of chopper to get there?
WW: I don't know. I think Ween gets one.
JB: Those fucking pricks. Is there any risk that these rocks could tumble and fall in the middle of our show?
WW: I doubt it. I saw Mötley Crüe there last year, and they didn't even cause a tremor.
JB:Yeah, but we rock so much harder than the Crüe! I predict that when we are finished, they are going to have to find a new name for Red Rocks. It's going to be...Red Rubble.
JB: We will shake it to the earth. I've heard that Colorado has some of the most beautiful people in the world. That everyone's really into, like, extreme mountain biking and kayaking and shit. They're all going to be wearing tank tops and thongs, and they'll be pointing at us, like, "Who the hell let these fat guys in here?" I wonder if we will be allowed to cross the state line. We will be halted. We will have to say we are on our way back to Nebraska, where the fat people belong.
KG: Do you think that we would be booed if we played a song by John Denver? Didn't he turn his back on Colorado?
JB: I heard he built a toxic-waste dump out in the middle of the forest.
KG:And people got excited about that? After all he did for them with "Rocky Mountain High"?
WW: People are fickle.
JB: I heard that we are not actually the headliner. That is such bullshit! Are we the opener? It's fine if we are opening for Ween. We've always wanted to play with those guys. We heard they party really hard. But what the fuck is Galactic? Is that like one of these fucking hippie jam bands who are going to play for eight years?