Interview: Tenacious D
It’s hard to believe it’s been more than a decade since spoof-rock outfit Tenacious D first exploded onto the music scene with their self-titled debut album: a joyous mash-up of hilariously juvenile humour and surprisingly accomplished heavy rock anthems.
Back then, movie star Jack Black and partner-in-crime Kyle Gass seemed to have it all. They had meaty riffs and copious nob gags. They had Dave Grohl on drums. And they also had songs like Fuck Her Gently.
But after growing from cult sensation to mainstream phenomenon in the early-to-mid noughties, it’s fair to say that Tenacious D ultimately dropped off the radar somewhat. Now they’re back with their first album in six years – the long-awaited follow-up to their poorly-received 2006 movie, The Pick Of Destiny – and against all the odds the duo are enjoying unprecedented commercial success with it.
That most un-rock ‘n’ roll of bands, Keane, may have narrowly held on to the UK top spot this weekend. But Rize Of The Fenix has gone straight in at Number Two, and Black wants everyone to know that he and Gass are really firing on all cylinders.
“Our real inspiration was the haters; the non-believers,” he growls. “They inspired us to fight much harder. I mean, it’s definitely our comeback album. We’ve been gone for years.”
Indeed. So, what on earth have ‘the D’ been doing with themselves since the last time we saw them?
“Well we’ve been working on our meditation,” says Black. “A lot of meditation. There’s been a lot of time spent in the Himalayas. There’s been a lot of exercise and diet. There’s been a lot of nose to the grindstone. That’s right, I’ve been nose to the ground stoned!”
“I’ve made babies since last time,” adds Gass.
Clearly delighted by the fan reception to their new record, the live-wire pair nonetheless admit they hope Rize Of The Fenix becomes a critical smash too.
“I hope they rave about it,” says Gass. “I’m gonna read every single review.”
Black nods, before drawing breath for a characteristically full-blown rant : “I hope that they speak the truth. My only fear is that they’ll speak what they think they’re supposed to think. They’re gonna say what they’re supposed to say: ‘Oh these guys are just clowns right? We don’t take these guys seriously, right?’. That kind of bullshit. It’s lazy.
“I’m open up to critics who will really listen to it and say what they really think, as I honestly think it’s the greatest album in the last seven years. And you say ‘why seven Jack, why not just one year?’ Well seven’s just the number that came into my brain.
“Everyone who’s heard it so far has creamed, they’ve creamed upon it. The songs are better than orgasms, it’s been proven scientifically. They’ve wired people brains and when they listen to the album their pleasure cylinders fire on all cylinders. K, can I get your back up on this?”
Gass shrugs: “I’ve read every review so far and they’ve varied about 90% positive. But there was a bad one.”
“Who fucking dared?!” roars Black. “What a dick! You know what I wanna do? I want to go back into the archives and see who he likes. Maybe: ‘Well Linkin Park’s new album, that’s an album I can really get behind! That’s an album I can really sing and dance to!’. That fucking asshole can just chew on it all day long. And when I say ‘it’ I mean my shit.”
Talk moves on to the band’s forthcoming live shows throughout Europe, and it soon becomes clear that Black is most definitely looking forward to touring the UK.
“Oh, I like to go out for some curry in Manchester,” he says, “and I like to just wander the streets, on a little bicycle built for two. I like to do a lot of tandem biking through parks, and just meet some people.
“I like to go to a book store and curl up in the corner, read some Sherlock Holmes and talk to some different British people, and the Mancunians. I like to have a spot of tea and a crumpet. Or just stay in the hotel room. I remember that Manchester rocked extra hard though. It’s the Philadelphia of England. That’s a compliment, they’re a very rocking audience.
“The UK has always been some of the best shows we’ve ever had,” he adds. “They just have a deeper appreciated for rock than the rest of the world. And it makes sense, I would say most of the best rock has come from the UK, and it makes sense that they would appreciate it more. Wouldn’t you agree K?”
“I do,” nods Gass. “I think the people in the UK are just a little smarter, a little more sophisticated.”
Having said that, Black acknowledges that such British sophistication only stretches so far when it comes to Download Festival, which the band play in June.
“Well, I’ve heard that if they don’t like you they throw urine at you. Hopefully we’ll be well liked. But you should expect an umbrella – I’ll bring an umbrella just in case. As much as I appreciate the golden showers, I don’t think it would be safe – there’s always the possibility of electrocution.”
Rize Of The Fenix is out now, and Tenacious D tour from June. For more information, visit the band’s official website.