Double D

13 June 2012 | 1:33 pm | Bryget Chrisfield

“A simple peeled orange is awfully sexy if you finger it properly,” Tenacious D frontman Jack Black assures Bryget Chrisfield. His bandmate Kyle Gass laughs along, later admitting he’s paid for dental work in exchange for a blowjob.

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Two funny guys, both on different phone lines. In Hollyweird, where we lay our scene. From ancient grudge… If you caught Tenacious D supporting Foo Fighters last December, you would have experienced their special brand of comedic rock'n'roll with generous lashings of berating banter in between. During the show this scribe attended, Tenacious D frontman Jack Black called his bandmate/sidekick/lead guitarist Kyle Gass “clammy fingers Magoo”. “Oh my god,” Gass feigns outrage. “That's so mean!”

“You know, sometimes I get nervous and I lash out,” Black defends. The diss was delivered after only one song. “Oh my god, that's right,” Gass recalls, “and then I think I had to quit.” Black continues, “That was – wait, that was the night that you quit the band. I remember. That was a legendary night.” Gass must have developed a thick skin to protect against such verbal abuse over the years. “I really have. I'm numb to it,” he admits.

When asked whether there were any crazy happenings on this tour, Black offers, “Well we caused an earthquake in New Zealand and there was quite a good rap party at the end of that show. We all went over to someone's hotel room and I remember somehow we ended up trying to carry a piano down the stairs.” Gass chuckles, “Was there some drinking going on before that?”

“There was some drinking, yeah. It was one of those crazy nights.” Hopefully no pianos were harmed during this post-show revelry. “[The piano's] fine,” Black stresses. “It's functional. Thankfully there were no broken bones and no broken piano keys.”

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Roadies are “the REAL rock'n'rollers” according to Black, so what of groupies? “Groupies!?” he baulks. “No. You see it's 99% sausage fest out there.” Gass agrees, “Yeah, there's a lotta dudes. A lotta dudes.” Black clarifies: “It's possible to wrangle some groupies, but there has to be a person who's special job it is to just go out there and find them and bring them back. But, you know, those days are gone for me – I'm married with children now, I don't fuck around.”

It has to be said that Tenacious D's visual presence is instrumental to their appeal and accompanying video clips have been filmed for a whopping five out of the 14 tracks on their latest Rize Of The Fenix set. “I could've gone at least one more,” Black opines. “I would've liked to've done one for Señorita.” Gass agrees, “Mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm.” The band's manager, Michael Michaels, was so excited about the guest stars Tenacious D lured into the fold for these upcoming videos that he placed a call ahead of this interview to provide an extremely animated heads-up. Black and Gass are particularly pumped about the star of their Roadie clip. “We got Danny McBride,” Black extols. “It was quite a coup. We were a little surprised that we got 'im. We just asked him and he said 'yeah'. And it was a double coup: not as many people would know or care, but the director of most of the episodes of Eastbound & Down, Jody Hill, was the director of the video and that was equally thrilling for us 'cause he's so fucking funny.” Gass boasts: “Well I think that's a good reflection on us.”

Some fittingly freaky shit goes down in the duo's clip for Low Hangin' Fruit. “Well, you know, it's very provocative and there's lots of fruitplay,” Black reveals. “There's a lot of fingering various fruits and licking fruits.”

“You might not have thought that fruit was so sexy, really,” Gass contributes. Black concurs: “It's amazing how provocative a piece of fruit can be.” What's the sexiest citrus? “Well a simple peeled orange is awfully sexy if you finger it properly. It was a fun shoot. It was strictly me and Kage. There was a tremendous amount of provocative dance. Kyle's got the moves.”

“Let's just say you were moving pretty good yourself,” Gass praises. “We had some pretty good wardrobe for that too – we were pimping it out.”

Now that Rize Of The Fenix has dropped, how far would Tenacious D say they've come in their quest to become the best band in the world? Gass responds quickly: “It's one of the best albums ever.” But Black has a lot more to say on the subject: “Quite honestly, it's less about being the best band right now and more about saving rock'n'roll. Because let's face it, rock'n'roll is laying down on the gurney right now, it's flatlined.” This is true. “I'm not done with my analogy. The surgeons are looking at each other and saying, 'Is it even worth it? Should we just put off – what's that electric thing? The defibrillators?”

“Mmm-hmm,” Gass confirms. And Black's off again: “And that's when we – surgeons Kage and Jables – come in the room and say, 'Step aside, we've got this,' and bring it back to life. It's nothing less than a heroic rescue mission. We're like field team six going in to rescue sweet, innocent rock.”

There's a bit of adlibbing on album track Deth Starr and after claiming, “We're basically having sex. I think there's some love making,” Black divulges his source of inspiration. “You know how in the heyday of Van Halen when Diamond Dave would, you know, just be talking in the middle of a song? [Busts out the slow, sexy Panama riff] 'Reach down, beneath my legs and ease the seat back.' [Then, from Hot For Teacher] 'I brought my pencil! Give me something to write on, man'.”

Of the skits littered throughout the album, Classical Teacher is a standout. “It was terrifying I have to say,” Gass reflects on the 'experience'. Black elaborates, “Well the lesson with the classical teacher was less about learning guitar technique and more about tapping into some hidden passions that Kyle wasn't even aware of. You'll notice when next we play in your town that Kyle plays with a kind of abandon only seen in the wild. He plays like a jaguar.”

If you're searching for LOLs, give 39 a few spins. Here's a lyrical sample: “She needs a dentist appointment quick/I pay for it and she sucka my dick.” Is this song based on a real 'lady'? “It was loosely based on someone Kyle was dating for a time,” Black handballs. Kyle? “Ugh, well, you know, it was kind of a tough break up. It was more based on my ongoing midlife crisis, I think.” Black adds, “The names have been changed to protect the innocent.” Was a dentist appointment paid for though? “Excuse me, we have to wrap it up,” announces the phone conference operator. Much laughter. Black jokes, “We told her to interrupt if a dentist was asked about.” So did Gass in fact sort out a dental bill? “That part was true,” he chuckles. “But there was no agreement like [puts on a weird accent], 'In exchange for the dentist you must x, y and z'.”

When asked whether there are any topics too unsavoury to explore through song, Black shares, “There's an invisible line in the sand and everybody knows [when] there's too powerful a taboo. There's a lot of things where the unsavouriness is just a matter of time, it's like, 'Oh, too soon!' And there's other things that are just too harsh to be funny. Our next album is the stuff that was too hot, too dirty and too unsavoury on all of our albums. We've compiled them all and it's called…” Gass interjects, “D-licious.”

“It could just be called 'Licious,” Black muses and then one-ups himself, “I think it would be called 'Spicable: Tenacious D – 'Spicable.” Gass approves, “Mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm.”