Jack Black and Kyle Gass - AKA Tenacious D - star in the rock musical/comedy, Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. The film finds the members of "the greatest rock band in the world" hitting the road in search of an unusual guitar pick used by all their rock heroes. However there's one huge catch - the pick is locked up nice and tight at the Rock and Roll History Museum.
How hard was it to write this script knowing a lot of people who see the film might not know Tenacious D, as well as writing it for the fans?
Kyle Gass: “It’s definitely a challenge to try to serve both camps.”
Jack Black: “That’s why we did the origin [story]. The movie is like the origin episode of a comic book where you start before there was a Tenacious D. If we would have started in the middle of our existence, then people would have had to do a lot of catching up.”
Kyle Gass: “I think we tilted it more for fans, I think, hoping people got it.”
How much of this story is true?
Jack Black: “Glad you asked. It’s all true except…”
Kyle Gass: “His father is one of the most supportive men.”
Jack Black: “My parents were always very supportive of my rocking.”
Kyle Gass: “He was not a fundamentalist Christian.”
Jack Black: “ No, I was actually raised a Jew. I went to Hebrew school and got Bar Mitzvahed, so that was a lie. But the rest...true.”
How did you meet?
Kyle Gass: “We met in ’89 through a friend.” [an argument breaks out over the year
Jack Black: “I had been a fan since ’86 or ’87 when I had gone to see him. The first time I saw you perform was Carnage at the Mocha. When was that? Late ‘80s?”
Kyle Gass: “But Jack got in a production that we were doing in the Actor’s Gang called The Big Show. I would do all the music usually for the Gang stuff and Jack came in there and started contributing - and threatening my very existence.”
Jack Black: “That’s right.”
Kyle Gass: “But it was a case of if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. I couldn’t beat him.”
Was the operatic format there from the beginning?
Kyle Gass: “I’m not commenting on that.”
Jack Black: “I got mad at Kyle in the last interview because he said we should have done the whole thing as an opera without any talking. And I went, ‘What are you taking about? Stop saying bad things about the movie. We’re trying to promote the movie.’ Yes, we blew it. We should have done an opera.”
Kyle Gass: “The opening scene is mind-blowing and I just sometimes get a little sad when it stops. That’s when I come on.”
Jack Black: “That song is not easy to write, to write a full opera you’ve got to take your hats off to The Who. But on the other hand that movie kind of sucked, and it’s probably because it was an opera from beginning to end, Kyle.”
Kyle Gass: “I’m going to put Evita in that category, too.”
Jack Black: “You’ve got to stop and start talking at some point. You have to talk and communicate without singing. It’s annoying.”
Was it hard to get a studio to say yes to the movie?
Jack Black: “It was easy when we were talking with New Line and we were saying, ‘Let’s make a five million dollar movie. It’ll be incredible. It’ll be funny.’ We’ve got f**kin’ enough fans already that’s it’s gonna make money. Then it expanded and we said, ‘Wait a second, it’s actually more like 18 or 19 million or 20.’”
Kyle Gass: “Is that okay?”
Jack Black: “And then there was only one studio interested. We went all around the horn and then New Line was the only one that said, ‘Yeah, we’ll put our money on that one.’ Nobody else was interested. It was too expensive. None of them thought we could do it.”
Was there a scene that was hard to get through because you were cracking up?
Kyle Gass: “We’re pretty good at not cracking up because you don’t want to blow the take. There were a couple of times… You take movies apart so much…some weird close-up.”
Jack Black: “I was laughing all the time. I haven’t had this much fun on a movie ever.”
Kyle Gass: “I think the very last scene we had a good time when we’re smoking out of the Devil’s bong. We put some real pot in there.”
Jack Black: “Yeah. I got too high and I was paranoid that there were some SAG secret officials there that were gonna bust us for smoking real pot. It’s too powerful. Someone put the cronic in there. Two bong hits. I’m a lightweight, too, so it’s like, ‘Aaaaaaaah.’ Driving home was a real challenge.”
Jack, since the show and the album you’ve became a movie star. Has that changed Tenacious D at all?
Jack Black: “I like to think that we would never have gotten the movie made if I hadn’t built some sweet…”
Kyle Gass: “There you go. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. As big as Jack was getting, it could only help get a name, I think. That’s all they really think about is bankability.”
But has it changed you, Jack?
Jack Black: “Has it changed me? Oh, yeah. We’ve gone on tour after School of Rock.”
Kyle Gass: “We’ve played shows. We’ve had great tours. I think people seem to separate it pretty much.”
Jack Black: “It was a bummer after Shallow Hal when people were carrying around the Shallow Hal billboards at the concerts [he indicates people holding them up over their heads]. That’s not really heavy metal, to look out in the audience when you’re tryin’ to rock and there’s a Shallow Hal cardboard cutout.”
Does your music have to be good before it can be funny? What comes first?
Kyle Gass: “I think it’s important for us that it’s as good as we can do it, just musically-wise.”
Jack Black: “Yeah.”
Kyle Gass: “I think it’s what makes us a little different from some guitar comics. We love music and just try to make really great songs.”
Do you start with the tune before the words?
Kyle Gass: “We usually have an idea. We do a lot of improv and Jack will riff a lot of the lyrics.”
Jack Black: “Kyle is always a bubbling cauldron of tunes. He’s always playing and working on little melodies and riffs. Then I would need to have something that I think is funny, a concept that I want to riff on, or, I need a type of song that I want to make that we’ve never made before. Then we can just start jammin’ and always recording.”