Tenacious D

by Michelle Harper
April 2002

Tenacious D on the cover of Maximum Ink in April 2002

Tenacious D on the cover of Maximum Ink in April 2002

Yes! Finally, an original and innovative musical group pierces the rerun neo-metal trend of the new millennium. Of course, musical geniuses such as Brittany Spears and the Backstreet Boys (pre-rehab visits) have made it almost impossible for anyone to look good, or even competent, in comparison. But, the hilarious sarcasm of Jack Black and Kyle Gass are making a run for glory despite the uphill trek, riding their mighty steeds with a guitar in one hand and a scepter in the other. Their mission? Tenacious D wants to kick some ass, rock your face off, and allow you the privilege of witnessing the “greatest band that ever was”.

It all began in 1996 when Gass and Black met in the L.A-based theater group, The Actor’s Gang. Gass instructed Black on some guitar techniques, and the two became fast friends. The duo has made cameo appearances in such flicks as Bio-Dome, Cradle Will Rock, and more recently, an HBO short documenting the hilariously intense rise to ass-kicking stardom - Tenacious D-style.  Black has made a name for himself as an actor as well, appearing as a clerk in John Cusak’s record store in High Fidelity, and the Farley Brothers’ flick Shallow Hal with Gwynneth Paltrow.  Finally, after six years, with the help of Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and production team The Dust Brothers , Tenacious D is on their way to selling 11 million records, just as Black so grandiosely predicted.

What makes this musical montage so interesting is their image. Black and Gass look more like plumbers from the Brady Bunch than rock icons.  Their heavy metal/folk blend comes across as completely serious, while Black belts out songs like “Fuck Her Gently” and “Kielbasa” (a love story for the whole family). My personal favorite off of their recent self-titled CD is “Dio,” a tribute to the great fantasy metalhead Ronnie James Dio. In this plea to the great master, Black gently relates to Mr. Dio that he is in fact too old to rock anymore (“No more rockin’ for you!”) However, Black assures him that he and Gass will take very good care of him in his retirement. He simply must turn over his cape and scepter to Black, the new reigning king of the fantastic (and to please give a small cape to K.G.).

Not only are these two innovative comedians, but unlike Kip Winger, they actually have musical talent. Both sing and play acoustic guitars, and they write all their own music and lyrics. Thank you Tenacious D for breathing a breath of fresh Tolkien esque air into the cesspool of Limp Bizkit commercialism. Long live the “D.”

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