An attempted Q&A with Tenacious D’s Jack Black and Kyle Gass
The Aspen Times
If You Go …
What: Tenacious D
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Sunday, Dec. 28 and Monday, Dec. 29, 9 p.m.
Tickets and more info: Belly Up box office, www.bellyupaspen.com
Jack Black and Kyle Gass, the comedy rock duo known as Tenacious D, will play a two-night pre-New Year’s Eve run at Belly Up Aspen on Dec. 28 and 29. Wrangling the funnymen and musicians in conversation is no easy task, as Aspen Times arts editor Andrew Travers found out in an interview this week in advance of the shows.
This is an edited version of their question and answer session, in which “the D” supplied few answers to Andrew’s questions but did supply some laughs.
Andrew Travers: You guys played the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival early on in the life of Tenacious D, back in 1997. Did you think you’d still be at it all these years later? Did you have a sense it would catch on?
Jack Black: Did the Beatles think they’d still be doing it for 15 years? Oh wait, they didn’t. So, we thought we were going to be like the Beatles, who only did it for four years and then went solo? No —
Kyle Gass: It kind of felt like a fiery hoop at the time.
JB: I don’t live my life with a 15-year plan. But did we think we were built to last? Did we think ‘We’re just a flash in the pan so let’s enjoy it?’ No! That was never in our minds. Is that the question? I’m trying to decide whether I’m insulted by the question or not? Kage, were you insulted by the question?
KG: I was concerned about the insult.
JB: Here’s what I’m gonna say: next question!
AT: What can we expect out of the show?
JB: Two warriors. Shit. I don’t know. Kage, what can they expect?
KG: I think its gonna be a party. I think people in Aspen, that’s their vacation time. They’re there for their big snow trip.
JB: You’re saying what to expect rom the audience. Who cares about them. What can they expect from us?
KG: Well –
JB: I think there’s going to be a lot of tourists but there are going to be some locals, too.
KG: We haven’t made up the set yet, so I really don’t know what to expect.
JB: Alright. are we gonna be good on that day?
KG: Its two days. So we’ve got two rolls of the dice.
JB: Are we gonna be good, though?
KG: I think its gonna be good.
JB: It’s gonna be tough for Huey Lewis and the News to follow us. We’re going to make it very difficult. I don’t know, what’s the best band that’s played in Aspen this year? You can expect the best show that Aspen has seen in all of 2014. That’s for damn sure. by a long shot.
KG: But we don’t know what the best show is!
AT: Lets see, there was –
JB: I don’t even need to know. You can expect to see some very confident dudes up on stage.
KG: That’s true. We’re at the top of our game really.
AT: I saw the European tour that’s coming up is being billed as “Old School Acoustic.” Is it the two of you acoustic or is it the full band in Aspen?
KG: That’s the duo.
JB: [laughs] Why isn’t that clear? Are we supposed to say something when we play acoustic now? We can’t just say Tenacious D? It’s a fair question, Kyle.
KG: There are two members. I think the question is, are you taking the band? And the answer is no, were not taking the band.
JB: I think in the billing it should be clear that we’re not bringing the band. I think if you just say Tenacious D, it means were bringing the band
KG: Well, we’re doing old school acoustic style.
JB: Yes, it’s old school acoustic style. But did you put ‘old school acoustic style’ in fine, fine print? Whatever. You can expect to see two aging ninjas of rock.
KG: Is ‘old skool’ spelled with a ‘k’? That’s my only question. Reverse the ‘k’ and I’m out.
AT: It’s been a couple years since ‘Rize of the Fenix.’ Are you guys working on some new stuff?
JB: Yeah, this is our year. We’ve really been in the headspace, the conceptual headspace. Kyle oftentimes tells me that he’s ready. I think he’s got some brass in pocket.
KG: I’m ready.
JB: I’m almost ready. I think the turn of the calendar to ‘15 is the time. I want us to see that movie ‘Whiplash.’ I think that’ll bring us to greater heights.
AT: How does the songwriting process work for you guys?
JB: We Skype it generally. We work all on Skype. What are we talking about here?
KG: How do we write songs?
JB: Oh. We like to write titles and build it out from there. But Kyle is a master chef of jams. He’ll work it out and then I’ll improvise lyrics. That’s generally how it goes. Improvise lyrics around the title.
KG: And I think we’ve got some strong titles.
AT: What have you got so far?
JB: None of your business! You think I’m gonna tell you the titles? Then you’ll start ripping us off.
KG: My God, Andrew!
JB: There is something I really wanted to tell the people of Aspen.
KG Is it not sold out yet? I can’t figure out why.
JB: I think it might be because it’s pretty expensive –
KG: What? Is it like $40 or something?
JB: [laughs] I think it’s a little higher than that. [Editor’s note: Tickets are $235 for general admission, $555 for reserved seats.]
KG: It’s not $50 is it? Because if its $50, I’m gone. I will not treat our fans that way.
JB: Listen. Here’s the thing I want to tell the people of Aspen. You people with kids that like Tenacious D, there is no better stocking stuffer, no better gift than the gift of the D. Your kids, have they been naughty? Probably. Have they been nice? Sometimes. They deserved the gift of the D. Stop denying them the gift of the D. What were you gonna get them? A new snowshoe? They’ve got those. Give them the gift of the D. A nice pair of wool socks? Fuck that. Give them the gift of the D. Am I right, Kage? That’s the message we should be pushing right now.
KG: Is it 21 and over?
AT: Its all ages. Under 18, you need a parent or guardian with you.
JB: It’s all ages Kages! I was living with my parents until I was 30. Give them the gift of the D. Were talking to the parents, but really it’s the parents that are coming. The kids aren’t coming, it’s the parents. So I guess I’m talking to the grandparents. Hey Grandma and Grandpa Aspen, given your 40-year-old kids the gift of the D.
KG: Yeah, for the people who have everything.
JB: Don’t get ‘em that fancy bottle of cognac. Give them the gift of the D. They’ll love you forever. Next question!
AT: How about your tour rider? Anything you need to put on a good show?
JB: We have gotten a little finicky. We want to have our own private shitter. That’s enough. But sometimes that’s just not the way things work. What is on the rider these days Kage?
KG: I think we’ve got two prosties and an 8 ball.
JB: Thats not on there. Don’t print that. Two prosties and an 8 ball? That’s Sean Penn’s rider. We have lamps on ours. We don’t like fluorescent lighting. We like to have one lamp that we can turn on to light the room, know what I mean? We should put some candles on our rider.
KG: Non-scented candles. A little Vaseline. I like to keep my lips moist.
JB: Would you like a bottle of vino? A little dark chocolate?
KG: We used to have Metamucil on the rider.
JB: Why is Metamucil no longer on the rider? It’s a wonder drug. Is it a drug?
KG: No. It s a natural bulk fiber.
JB: It’s a wonderful product and we have to find a way to be a spokesperson for Metamucil.
KG: Let’s get ‘em on board for Fest Supreme 2015.
JB: Yeah. I really think so.
KG: No brainer. Somebody make a call.
JB: We like to have peanut butter and jelly on the rider.It’s just the perfect sandwich. Perfect protein. Prefect sugar. We really like to have those super high caffeine Starbucks iced mocha drinks. We like to get a little zippety-doo-da before the gig.
KG: We used to see a lot of hummus around, but we don’t see that much anymore.
JB: Yeah. The hummus isn’t as delicious as it used to be. I don’t know what happened. And I do love chips and dip, but I just don’t feel like they should be there.
JB: Do you live in Aspen, young man?
AT: I do.
JB: What’s the best burger in town?
AT: The Hotel Jerome burger is pretty legendary. There’s a place called 520 Grill, thats a good one. I go there a lot.
JB: They can’t do 720. Its just 520?
AT: Yeah, it’s just the address.
JB: Is there a good Italian place? Kyle wants some Italian.
AT: Yeah, there’s L’Hostaria, and there’s Campo de Fiori –
JB: It sounds Hispanic to me. Campo de Spaghetti? Maybe its Hispanic Italian fusion.
KG: Tell fans if they want pictures to go there.
AT: Are you guys scouting anyone out for Fest Supreme. Any news on that?
JB: We do have amazing people. We have a lot of people we haven’t asked yet. I wish we could give you the scoop but it’s too early. We’re really just cock-blocking you on all your questions, because you want the scoops and were not giving ‘em. You want to know the titles on our new album, the people on our Festival Supreme, and we’re just giving you yahtzee.
KG: He’s a good investigative journalist.
JB: The truth is we got Fugazi. And we’re hoping to have a song on the new album called “Fugazi.” What else?
KG: Should I tell him were trying to get Ween?
JB: No. Don’t tell him real ones.
KG: But you just said Fugazi.
JB: We’re not gonna get Fugazi. It’s just funny to ay Fugazi. Fugat-zi! …. So we play Saturday and Sunday?
KG: No. It’s Sunday and Monday.
JB: Thats weird. Isn’t that weird? Aren’t people working on Monday?
KG: No, it doesn’t matter. It’s like every day is Saturday in Aspen between Christmas and New Year’s. It’s a holiday week.
JB: Not if you work at 520 Grill. Ain’t no holidays there!
KG: Well, yeah, they have to work.
JB: They better be grilling up my ostrich burger – Kage, we gonna see you on the slopes?
KG: You will not. It’s too advanced there. I need bunny slopes. It’s all double diamonds.
JB: Have we answered all of your queries? [laughs]
KG: Do we get the front page?
AT I know that’s what you’ve been working for all these years. Happy to make it happen.
JB: Cover of the Rolling Stone, cover of the Aspen Bugle. Bucket fucking list! Check! Done and doner.
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