In the desolate, acid-washed year of 1988, two struggling souls crossed paths in the City of Angels. Sharing a passion for avant-garde theatrical arts and Queen-size rock & roll histrionics, Jack Black and Kyle Gass forged a friendship, dedicated themselves to the arcane craft of acoustic heavy metal, and formed a band/comedy act the likes of which had never been seen. Jack sang lead. Kyle led the guitar charge. They called themselves Tenacious D, and they crafted anthems about shiny demons, killing yaks with mind bullets, and their lone fan, Lee. Tenacious D chronicled their journey to the crested peak of rock goddery (at least in their own weed-muddled noggins) in a series of beloved HBO shorts in 1999. Soon after, they were rewarded with sold-out concert halls and later a gold album. Yet the two-headed cult sensation realized that there was still one thing left to conquer: Movie Mountain. So they toiled on ideas for the next half decade?with liberal breaks for naps and burrito runs. Under the stewardship of writer-director Liam Lynch (Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic), they begat Nov. 22’s Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny, which documents the duo’s epic quest for a satanically-powered guitar plectrum that would help them become, as self-prophesied, the greatest band of all time. (The film also features an appearance by Sasquatch.) Herewith, a colloquy with Black, 37, and Gass, 46, who sometimes are in character, sometimes not, but are always game to hold court.
Entertainment Weekly How does it feel to finally give birth to a D movie?
Jack Black We didn’t put in half as much work as Star Wars — yet it’s better than Star Wars.
Kyle Gass We’re entertaining the notion of winning the Nobel Prize for comedy.
JB There’s such a dropkick and power punch that you’re going to wake up after the movie’s over — not because you fell asleep out of boredom, but because you are physically knocked out, drooling, eye blood, nose booger. But in a good way.
KG You’ll probably have minor diarrhea.
EW What were your influences for this movie?
KG There’s a little Karate Kid in there.
JB There’s a lot of Spïnal Tap, because that is the benchmark. What’s a really funny rock movie since then? I’m gonna say zero. There’s some Cheech & Chong, Beavis and Butt-head. A big influence was Indiana Jones — part 2, the bad one, with the devil guy with the pumping heart. There’s a bit of Jaws.
EW Why Jaws?
JB I just like Jaws, so I wanted to say anything I like.
KG I like The Graduate. That’s one of my favorites.
JB [To Kyle] Don’t say, ”I like it.” Say, ”There’s some Graduate in there.”
KG Rosemary’s Baby is one of my faves.
JB Stop saying it’s your favorite!
EW The movie has lots of cameos, including a memorable one by Tim Robbins [an old pal from L.A.’s experimental theater group the Actors’ Gang]. How did you come up with his role as a creepy, one-legged foreigner who helps the D break into the Rock and Roll History Museum to steal the Pick of Destiny?
KG He came in and was like, ”I was thinking he should have a Russian accent,” and I was like, ”Oh, Tim, please don’t pick our movie to stretch in.” He read it every other way kinda lame because he wanted to do the Russian accent. But now I can’t imagine it any other way…. And we needed some Oscar cred.
JB We’ve got one Oscar winner and one nominee.
KG But we have, like, four Golden Globe nominees.
EW You filmed a new ending for the movie — a musical showdown with the Devil, played by Dave Grohl. One wouldn’t think that the D did reshoots.
JB Maybe we shouldn’t call it a reshoot. Let’s call it a D-shoot. It’s a flavor-enhancing ass-blowloader…. We need a heart-stopping finale to explode people’s brains, and it took us making a whole movie to realize what we needed.
KG You don’t want it half-baked. The fans deserve it. We’ve made them wait a long time for this. I hope they haven’t forgotten. I pray they haven’t forgotten. [To Jack] You know what’d be good for our movie? If the Vatican condemned it.
EW You worry that fans may have forgotten you?
JB I don’t think they’ve forgotten, but the field’s gotten more competitive. You’ve got this Sacha Cohen upstart and he threatens to knock us off our powerful comedy-rock pedestal — not that he rocks, but just that he comedies. We’ve got to bring all the spicy mustard to compete with the hounds nipping at our heels, the jackals trying to bite our privates — and we will strike back with a mighty blow.
EW Given your movie career, Jack, you could’ve left the D behind. What’s kept you loyal?
JB This is my baby. I didn’t write King Kong. Plus, I would’ve been haunted for the rest of my days by people going, [in brokenhearted-boy voice] ”How come you left the D behind? How could you?” So now I’m covered. Whether it’s a success or not, we f—ing made a D movie — that we like.
EW What’s your prediction, in millions, for the opening weekend box office?
KG I’ll say 61.
JB I’d be really stoked if we got 10. But then the next weekend? Niiine! Then the next weekend? Eeeleven! It’s all about the legs.
KG My theory is: If RV can be the No. 1 comedy, then maybe a bowl of s— can be No. 1.
EW You’re now embarking on a world tour to support your new album, Pick of Destiny. What are the demands in your contract rider?
JB Diaper genie, crib, old-man rocking chair, electronic foot massager. Maybe a Jacuzzi.
KG I want whores. Three whores… And hummus.
JB [To Kyle] Letting people know you want whores cuts down on your Backstage Betty potential.
KG You’re right. Scratch that. We’re going to call them ”contest winners.”
EW Where does the D go from here?
KG I see one sequel, probably bad, maybe an album.
JB There’s gonna be a lot more women in the sequel. This one was pretty much a sausage fest.
JB and KG [Overlapping] It’s a brodeo.
KG Jack and I will fight over some female love interest. And Tenacious D will taste ridiculous success.
JB Yeah, we’ve got to trip the light fantastic.
KG So there will be a love interest, a taste of success…and some sort of space journey.
JB [Fondly] I think so too. There will be a shark — and we will be jumping it.
The ABCs of D
A look at the dynamic duo’s fearsome rise
Black and Gass began peforming as folk-metal duo Tenacious D in 1994 at an L.A. dive bar, where they were spotted by David Cross, eventual star of Mr. Show.
Tenacious D aired in 1999 as a series of mini-episodes on HBO (exec-produced by Cross and his Mr. Show cohort Bob Odenkirk). Sample adventures: jamming with Sasquatch and fighting over a chick with a pierced spine and clogging fetish.
The D’s 2001 self-titled album features songs from the HBO shorts (like “Explosivo”) and new ones (like the romantic-advice ballad “F— Her Gently”), while the 2003 DVD Masterworks includes the HBO oeuvre, a London concert, short films, and videos. The Pick of Destiny soundtrack hit stores on Nov. 14.