PLAYBOY: There are many different versions of the origins of Tenacious D. Some claim that you were raised by a blind blues musician, while others insist that you made a pact with the devil to become mock-rock superstars. Would you care to set the record straight?
KYLE GASS: You’ll have to wait for our new movie, The Pick Of Destiny. We did it as a way of satisfying the public’s curiosity about us once and for all. We’re finally going to give it to you straight. But we’re not giving anything away for free.
JACK BLACK: We’re doing this for the fans. This is their chance to learn the truth about the band, to get answers to all of those epic questions that’ve been asked through the ages. “How did you guys meet?” “Why are you called Tenacious D?” “How are you able to rock so hard?” “When did you first meet Sasquatch?” At long last, you’re going to find out.
PLAYBOY: Just how much of this movie is autobiographical?
KYLE GASS: Everything is completely accurate. In a lot of ways, it’s almost a documentary. Maybe not the Pick of Destiny part, where we go searching for the guitar pick that was used at one time by every great musician in rock history, but the relationship between Jack and I is pretty truthful. When I met Jack, I was the wise mentor and he was my student in rock. He looked up to me for about a day and a half and then realized that I was full of shit and completely took over and dominated me after that. I think we captured that pretty well in the movie. In a lot of ways, it’s a typical Hollywood story. Boy-meets-boy, boy-teaches-boy-how-to-rock, boy-loses-boy, boy-gets-boy-back, boys-reach-rock-supremacy.
PLAYBOY: Is there anything that you don’t share in this movie? Anything that was too personal?
JACK BLACK: Not at all. We’re not holding anything back. Whenever we do something, we do it like we think the earth is going to explode tomorrow. We put it all out there. We’re not saving anything for the next movie. It’s all coming now, all the way, full guns a-blazing.
KYLE GASS: You mean full throttle?
JACK BLACK: That sounds dumb. I like full guns a-blazing better.
KYLE GASS: Let it be known that Jack is making a motorcycle throttle hand gesture. So I’m not misrepresenting him.
JACK BLACK: We’re gonna open up the, uh…
KYLE GASS: Flood gates?
JACK BLACK: We’re releasing the hounds.
KYLE GASS: We’re opening the gates and releasing the hounds. Simultaneously.
PLAYBOY: We found it curious that neither of you have a love interest in the movie. Are you trying to tell us something about your lifestyle choices?
KYLE GASS: Well, I don’t think people want or need to know that Jack and I are lovers. But I guess, in a way, you could say that there’s a subterranean gay undertone to the movie, though we never intended it. In Hollywood, it’s almost de rigueur to have some sort of love interest. Even when it detracts from the story, they always tack it on anyway. And it’s never funny. But this movie is just about us. We’re egotistical enough to think that’s all people want to see.
PLAYBOY: You’ve spoken openly about your rivalry with Satan, and you’ve even given him an executive producer credit on The Pick Of Destiny. Does Satan appear in the movie or did he just contribute behind-the-scenes?
JACK BLACK: We gave Satan a major speaking role, though we don’t actually do any hand-to-hand combat with him. There is a battle between the wizard and the devil. Some people are gonna say we stole it from the Lord of the Rings, but that’s BS. And if Simon Tolkien or whoever JRR’s grandson is wants to take us to court, I look forward to it. (In a Tolkien-like Old English dialect.) And then there will be a battle. A battle of wits from whence they sha’nt survive.
KYLE GASS: Why does Simon get all the glory anyway?
JACK BLACK: He has to protect the family’s honor. But with all respect, he’s no match for us. We will crush him.
PLAYBOY: They say that the camera adds ten pounds. As you’re both already on the hefty side, did you feel compelled to get into shape for the movie?
KYLE GASS: We knew it was coming for a long time, and as you know, we’ve had a lifetime battle with our weight. So I thought, “Okay, this is the time.” I got the trainer, I exercised every day, and I got the special diet food delivered to me. I was working as hard as I could. I probably dropped twenty pounds. And then we started the movie, and they had a full buffet on the set. Somebody must have said, “Jack and Kyle love to eat, let’s not spare any expense.” Seriously, I know that that conversation happened. We’d have a full breakfast, and then the Kraft Service would show up with doughnuts and nachos and any snack you could think of. And at 10:30 in the morning, there was this in-between meal. It wasn’t lunch, it wasn’t breakfast, I had no idea what it was. When I’m working and there’s any sort of pressure at all, I find solace in food. I literally gained it all back. During the course of the movie, I noticeably fatten up. Actually, just the reverse. We shot the last scene on the first day, when I was still looking very crisp and good. But when we finally got around to shooting the earlier scenes, I looked like Jabba the Hut. I created my own continuity problem.
PLAYBOY: You both quit smoking for this movie. How’s that working out?
JACK BLACK: I originally quit because I wanted to stay alive to see the movie released. But then we finished it and I went to New Zealand to do King Kong and started smoking again. So now I’m in a very foul mood because I’m trying to quit again.
KYLE GASS: Do you have any nicorette gum?
JACK BLACK: Yeah, but only #2. It’s the lightweight stuff. It doesn’t have the same wallop. But if you chew two #2s, it equals a #4.
KYLE GASS: I don’t know about that.
JACK BLACK: You think it only equals a #3? Dude, two 2-millgrams equals a 4-milligram.
KYLE GASS: I don’t know. I think it’s the same. Do you chew them at the same time?
JACK BLACK: If I drink a Tab 1-calorie soda, and I drink two of them, how many calories have I just had? Two calories. End of the subject. I rest my case. I win!
KYLE GASS: I’ve also been trying to quit smoking pot. My tolerance just got so low. I was like a chemo patient. I did so much of it, I just wasn’t getting high any more.
JACK BLACK: That’s terrible, Kyle. It’s like a betrayal of the fans.
KYLE GASS: It probably is. We did an informal poll, and roughly 63% of our fans are smoking weed. I’m saying, “Kids, there’s a better way.” I’m getting on my soapbox now. I’m only eight days in, but I’m saying there may be a better way. I actually think it’s important to try and quit at least once. I was getting to a point where I felt like I was in the Wu Tang Clan. That’s not good for anybody.
PLAYBOY: Porn star Ron Jeremy claims that he gives hope to old and out-of-shape guys. If he can get laid, anybody can. Does the same philosophy apply to Tenacious D? Are you living by example for bald and overweight guys who want to be rock stars?
KYLE GASS: Oh, absolutely. That’s what we’re all about. A lot of people think, “I’m not thin enough to be a rock star.” But look at us. We’re both eating too much and we’re doing just fine. You don’t need to have electric guitars. You don’t even need a rhythm section. It’s not about volume or chops. It’s about what’s in here. Please make a note that I’m pointing to my head and heart simultaneously.
JACK BLACK: A lot of people don’t know it, but Kyle is not actually bald.
KYLE GASS: That’s right. This is a fashion choice. I have a full head of hair, but I choose to shave my head.
JACK BLACK: He’s like that guy from Prodigy, the singer with the reverse mohawk. He’s making it cool to be bald. It’s an artistic choice.
PLAYBOY: You’re the self-proclaimed “Greatest Band in the World.” Can you confer that title on yourself? Doesn’t it have to be appointed by some higher rock authority?
JACK BLACK: You’re absolutely right. It’s stupid to call yourself the greatest band on earth. Somebody else has to call you that. But I don’t think we’ve ever uttered the phrase, “We are the greatest band in the world.” Not once. I mean, we have a song called “The Greatest Song in the World Tribute.” But we’re not talking about ourselves. As far as how we stack up in the rock hierarchy, that’s not for us to say. We leave that for others to decide.
KYLE GASS: Actually, I think we have said it.
JACK BLACK: What? When?
KYLE GASS: In the movie. Don’t you…? I’m pretty sure you say it at some point.
(Long pause. Jack glares at Kyle.)
JACK BLACK: Oh yeah, that’s right. It’s the last line of the movie. Good call, Kyle. Good call.
KYLE GASS: Oh wow. Can we erase that part?
JACK BLACK: You fucking idiot!
KYLE GASS: I feel horrible. If you have any pity on us, you’ll just forget I said anything.
PLAYBOY: You languished in relative obscurity for most of your career. But now you’ve signed to a major label (Sony) and you’re in a feature film for New Line. There’s no nice way to say this. Have you sold out to the Man?
JACK BLACK: I take issue with that question. What does it mean to “sell out”? Does that mean you’ve stopped doing good work because you’ve sacrificed your integrity? If the product you’re getting paid to make is just as good as the product you were making for free, I don’t understand what the sell-out is. We’re doing exactly what we want. Nobody fucking wrote this movie for us. Nobody writes our songs for us, or tells us what to do. How have we sold out? It makes no sense.
KYLE GASS: Well, it is possible to sell out. Look at Eric Clapton back in the 70s. He was doing the hard rockin’ stuff in Cream, but then he started pandering, trying to get the hits and fit into a marketable genre. Or look at what KISS did with their disco album. Or Soul Asylum with that “Runaway Train” song.
JACK BLACK: I don’t think that’s selling out. I think that’s a classic example of running out of rocket sauce. With Soul Asylum, (lead singer) Dave Pirner wrote some amazing songs for the first three albums, and then all the mushrooms he was taking caught up with him and he ran out of creative brain juice. I never felt like the D sold out. I feel like I kinda sold out a little bit when I did the movie Shallow Hal. I had an opportunity to work with some dudes who I thought were really funny, but it didn’t turn out like I hoped. I wasn’t proud of it and I got paid a lot of money, so in retrospective it felt like a sell-out. But the D never sold out. We never did a commercial, and we’ve been offered a few. We could’ve gotten paid more for this movie, but we wanted the creative control.
PLAYBOY: Many of your songs are proclamations of how hard you rock, or celebrations of your glorious talent. Are you just stating the obvious, or does this hint at a creative insecurity?
JACK BLACK: I just think it’s funny. I love how rappers rap about themselves and how kick-ass they are. And some of my favorite bands, like Urge Overkill and Jon Spencer’s Blues Explosion, do the same thing. Their songs are just musical declarations of their own awesomeness. That is so fucking funny to me. I guess we’re kinda making fun of ourselves when we do it. I mean, we don’t really think that we’re these rock gods. We’re just two guys with acoustic guitars. But in a way, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you say that you’re the greatest enough times and really believe it, then other people will believe it, too. That’s the whole point of the D. We play every gig like we’re the biggest rock stars to ever walk the earth. It’s ironic, but it’s also wishful thinking.
PLAYBOY: As you observed in your now classic ode to the touring life, “The road is fucking hard/ The road is fucking tough/ There’s no question that/ It is rough, rough stuff.” You wrote that song while you were performing mostly in LA comedy clubs. Now that you have some actual touring experience under your belts, do you still agree with your original observation?
KYLE GASS: Totally. I don’t know how we nailed it so accurately. To be honest, though, it wasn’t much of a stretch. Everybody knows that the road is tough. But I still think it’s hilarious when rock stars complain about touring. When you’re playing on the punk rock level, and you’re traveling the country in a van with a bunch of guys, sure, it’s probably hard. But we’re just two guys on a big tour bus, and we have plenty of room and all the comforts of home. Jack takes the back 40 seats, and I’m in the front watching satellite television.
JACK BLACK: I definitely like rolling into town in our tour bus with just the two of us and our tour manager and our guitars. There are no amps, nothing to carry around. The fact that we can put on a show with just the two of us is very unique. And people love it because we’re not like every other band out there. Do you wish that the White Stripes would stop touring with just two people and get a full backing band? (Long pause as Jack considers this.) Actually, now that I mention it, I kinda do. I wouldn’t mind if they got a bass player. Or somebody on the keys. That would be sweet.
PLAYBOY: The Pick Of Destiny has a lot of famous cameos, from Amy Poehler to Seymour Hoffman to Ben Stiller. How did you persuade them to appear in your movie?
KYLE GASS: Most of them owed us favors. Ben Stiller was originally just a producer on the movie, and we told him, “Dude, you’ve got to come down and actually earn your paycheck.” At some point, Will Ferrell was supposed to be in it. I said, “Y’know, I was in Elf. How about some reciprocity?” He promised to do it and then he was busy. Thanks, Will. We really appreciate it. So Ben stepped in and hit it out of the park. It’s really a super-group of comedy megastars. Our only rule was, before you could be in the movie, you had to have one Golden Globe. Or at least an Emmy. If not, well, you’re a nobody and we’re not interested. We’re very award oriented. We like prizes.
PLAYBOY: You’ve collaborated with a lot of mainstream musicians, like Dave Grohl, The Dust Brothers, and Page McConnell of Phish. Are they just fans, or do you suspect that they might be a little envious of the D?
JACK BLACK: Well, it goes back to that old cliché. All actors want to be musicians and all musicians want to be actors. You know, “the grass is always greener” and all that. Dave Grohl is a really funny guy, and I think there’s a frustrated comedian in him. He supported us early on, before we got the HBO series. He came and checked us out at the Viper Room and gave us a big boost in confidence. But I don’t think that Dave or any of the other musicians are jealous of us. It’s not like they’re trying to replace Kyle. Nobody wants to break up the D. They just want to inject themselves in there and become the third member. Whenever it’s just me, they’ll say, “Where’s KG? Is he around the corner?”
KYLE GASS: (Laughs) They’re usually pretty satisfied with just you.
PLAYBOY: Meat Loaf is playing Jack’s father in the movie. Was he picked for his musical ability or for his unusually large girth?
JACK BLACK: I always thought of him as the perfect choice to play my dad. We look alike, obviously. He looks like he could be in my family. But it was mostly his energy that inspired us to cast him. Just watching him sing is an education in rock. I love that “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” song he does. How does it go again? (Sings) “Can I sleep on it, baby baby, can I sleep on it?” That was so rad. His entire part in the movie is singing, so we basically said, “Will you sing in the movie, yes or no?” He said, “For you guys, yes, cause I like your stuff.”
KYLE GASS: This was the first movie he’s sang in since The Rocky Horror Picture Show, so we were pretty fortunate.
JACK BLACK: I’m sure that directors ask him all the time and it just bugs the shit outta him.
KYLE GASS: You think?
JACK BLACK: Dude, how could he not be asked a thousand times to sing in movies?
KYLE GASS: Well, then why wouldn’t he do it?
JACK BLACK: It’s like John Travolta. He didn’t want to dance in any movies after Saturday Night Fever until Tarantino got him to do it in Pulp Fiction. We are to Meat Loaf what Tarantino was to Travolta.
KYLE GASS: I guess you’re right. If you’re reading this, thank you, Meat.
PLAYBOY: Do you consider The Pick Of Destiny to be a rock musical or a comedy?
JACK BLACK: I don’t know. I don’t think of it as a musical. But it’s not a straight comedy either. What’s a movie that has the same amount of music? Eddie & The Cruisers, maybe? We have more music than that. It has about the same amount of music as This Is Spinal Tap, but that’s not really a musical or a comedy. It’s more of a mock rockumentary.
KYLE GASS: Our movie is similar to a musical, except that we never bust out into song apropos of nothing.
JACK BLACK: No, we never do. And that’s the difference.
KYLE GASS: Wait, that’s not true. There is that one scene.
JACK BLACK: What are you talking about?
(Kyle whispers something to Jack.)
JACK BLACK: Oh yeah, I guess we do. But just that one time. Maybe we should cut it.
KYLE GASS: So our answer is… it’s kinda a musical, but not really.
JACK BLACK: No, the answer is no. It’s not a musical. It’s an action-adventure comedy set to music. There, that’s it! We have successfully pigeonholed and categorized the movie! Done! Give me a high-five!
(Jack and Kyle high-five each other.)
PLAYBOY: You’ve always had a devoted following among female groupies. But now that you’ve become major stars, do you spend your evenings servicing an endless stream of backstage betties?
KYLE GASS: You would think, but no. I’ve heard stories but I’m still waiting for the deluge. Jack gets it more than me. We’re at different levels. Jack is a megastar, and I’m basically “the other guy.” I’m behind him eight steps. Jack will get besieged at an airport, and I’m just looking for anybody who recognizes me. I’ve been able to live off his scraps. But even so, it’s helped my dating life. I’ve had women pretend they like me. And that’s fine. Even if they’re pretending, it’s still pretty good.
JACK BLACK: I’m still mostly attracted to girls who don’t like me, so not much has really changed.
KYLE GASS: If they have most of their limbs, I’ll take all comers.
JACK BLACK: You’ll take all comers, and then you’ll cum on all takers. Oh yeah! High-five!
(Jack and Kyle high-five once again.)
PLAYBOY: Speaking of groupies, Cynthia Albritton, the infamous “Plaster Caster,” has made casts of the most famous penises in rock. Has she ever approached either of you to lend your sexual gifts for her art?
JACK BLACK: No, neither she nor anybody else has ever asked to make a plaster cast of my cockiles. Why, what have you heard?
KYLE GASS: I don’t know if I’d do it. I wouldn’t want to be judged against Tommy Lee or Jimi Hendrix.
JACK BLACK: Yeah, you don’t want your goodies to be on display next to Gigantor. I’d be cool if she just wanted to put my name on the Jimi Hendrix cast. She probably made two of him, so just put my name on one of the extras.
KYLE GASS: Wouldn’t people know? Both casts would look exactly the same. You’d have to be on the other end of the mantel.
JACK BLACK: Okay, fine. Would it be cool if I sent in a ringer?
KYLE GASS: I’d be afraid to do it, because when I get nervous, my bits get even smaller. She’d have to get the turtle out of its shell. That thing can get stuck in there pretty deep. I’ve thought about stuffing my pants just to make it look bigger, but it probably wouldn’t work because I wear sweats all the time.
JACK BLACK: “What’s up with Kyle’s package? It totally moved down to his knee. Look, it’s down at his ankle. It came out!” It would be so horrifying to be exposed as the guy who stuffs his trousers. That would be humiliating.
PLAYBOY: You’ve written several songs about sex, but nothing about love. Is the D afraid of intimacy?
KYLE GASS: I was thinking the same thing. We should have at least one classic love song.
JACK BLACK: You mean like that Chicago song? (Sings) “If you leave me now, you take away the biggest part of me.”
JACK BLACK & KYLE GASS: (Singing in unison): “Oooh oh, baby please don’t go!”
JACK BLACK: Yeah, we should do that. We wrote a new song for the movie called “Dude, I Totally Miss You,” and that’s kinda emotional. But you’re talking male-female love, aren’t you?
KYLE GASS: Maybe we need to grow up and write something about adult love.
JACK BLACK: Let’s try to write one. Right now. (Sings) “I fuckin’ love you, baby, I think about you, I’m gonna buy stuff and hang out of you, and put my penis next to y-y-you, I want to hold you tight, and give you kisses at night, cause I love your brains, your brains and pussy, too. Your brains and your pussy, tooooo.”
KYLE GASS: I think we have a title. “Your Brains and Your Pussy, Too.” Well, Playboy readers, you heard it here first.
PLAYBOY: If your musical canon is to be believed, Tenacious D has spent a lot of time mastering their sexual technique, from utilizing French ticklers and sucking toes to fucking your partners gently when appropriate. Have you ever considered making a sex instruction video?
JACK BLACK: That’s a fantastic idea. We’re already putting out the Tenacious D exercise video. It’s called D-zercise. We should go back to the studio and shoot an extra part about pleasing your partner. Then we’ll put it out as a two-disc DVD set. One disc is called D-zercise, and the other is Tenacious D Sex Tips. Together, it’ll be called Getting Hard With the D.
KYLE GASS: In one disc, we’ll be in our workout clothes. And in the other, we’ll be in our sexy, nighttime workout clothes.
PLAYBOY: So what kind of advice would you give?
JACK BLACK: Lots of tongue exercises. You gotta know how to use the tongue if you’re gonna please your lady.
(Jack demonstrates by flicking his tongue.)
KYLE GASS: It looks like a lizard.
JACK BLACK: The tongue is a muscle and you’ve got to work it out. I was watching Internet porn the other day, and I was checking out Nina Hartley’s tips on eating pussy. She gave some great advice.
KYLE GASS: What was she saying?
JACK BLACK: She said love the whole pussy. Don’t just love that little spot. Give the side flaps some attention. Stick a finger in slowly, don’t just jam it in there. Get it all wet. And remember, the ladies have a taint, too. Give it some attention. But don’t go too far. I don’t think the ladies really want a finger up their ass.
KYLE GASS: You think so?
JACK BLACK: You stick your finger in the anus, dude?
KYLE GASS: No.
JACK BLACK: Do you stick your cock in there?
KYLE GASS: No.
JACK BLACK: Don’t you kinda want to, though?
KYLE GASS: I do now. I think it depends on the lady. I would say that I’ve never done it on purpose.
JACK BLACK: I would say to a lady, “I’ve never done this before. Could we just try it this one time?” Then she’d be like, “I don’t know.” And then I’d put on a Chicago record. (Sings) “If you leave me now, who-hoo-hoo, baby please don’t go.”
KYLE GASS: See, I’d put on “Back Door Man.”
JACK BLACK: Dude, that’s not the song they want to hear. It sounds a little too aggressive.
PLAYBOY: One of your most famous songs, “Sex Supreme,” is about double-teaming. Is that based on a real experience?
KYLE GASS: Not really. It’s more, “Imagine what that would be like.”
JACK BLACK: I’m not into the double-teaming. Are you talking about me and Kyle double-teaming a girl? That I’m definitely not into. But I’m not really into two girls with one guy either. I like one girl at a time, because then you don’t have to worry about giving somebody too much attention. What if I’m way into one of them more than the other? It’d cause some jealousy.
KYLE GASS: Not if you’re paying them. Let’s face it, that’s the only way it’s going to happen with me.
JACK BLACK: Dude, I disagree. Even if you’re paying them, you’re going to feel bad if you focus on one more than the other.
KYLE GASS: We have a friend who goes to Costa Rica for the whores. It’s a great place to go whoring. I was with him once and he got two hookers and took them back to the hotel. I actually didn’t get any, because I wasn’t in the mood. One was kind of obnoxious and he booted her. The other one was young and sweet and new to whoring, and he ended up sleeping with her.
JACK BLACK: Wow. See, I’d be afraid that the other one would come back and shank me.
KYLE GASS: That’s why you need a couple of extra Benjies. Just to pay them off.
PLAYBOY: Gene Simmons (of KISS fame) has a scrapbook filled with naked photos of his sexual conquests. Do either of you have a similar collection?
JACK BLACK: There are times I wish I had pictures of the women I’ve been with. But it wouldn’t be enough for a scrapbook. I could fit them all in my wallet. And I wouldn’t want to show them to other people. It’d just be for me to look at and think back on the good old days and maybe masturbate to.
KYLE GASS: I think Gene Simmons might be the grossest rock star out there. He’s Republican, he’s arrogant, he’s unsavory, he’s a misogynist, and he wears a codpiece.
JACK BLACK: It’s scary just how unsexy he is.
KYLE GASS: He goes out of his way to do everything awful. I wouldn’t want to imitate him at all.
PLAYBOY: Before your live shows, you’ve occasionally warned fans, “If you don’t want your asses blown out, leave the room.” Are you suggesting that your music acts as a sort of musical laxative?
KYLE GASS: The live show is pretty entertaining. You could feasibly laugh the shit out of yourself. I don’t think that’s far-fetched.
JACK BLACK: They say that laughter is the best medicine, and if you’re constipated, the D could do the trick.
KYLE GASS: We should distribute videos to hospitals.
JACK BLACK: Just to ass hospitals, not to regular hospitals.
KYLE GASS: I think most hospitals have ass wings.
JACK BLACK: We should go on a tour, just of the ass-wings of hospitals. But the real question is, what else can we cure besides constipation?
KYLE GASS: I think we could heal just about anyone if we laid our hands on them. You can accomplish a lot with just the power of suggestion.
JACK BLACK: We could cure almost any vaginal… wait, no. I was going to say we could cure any vaginal disease if you let us put our penises in you. But we don’t want to put our penises in diseased vaginas. Never mind, I didn’t think that through.
KYLE GASS: I think we can cure a lot of depression… with a smile.
JACK BLACK: Oh god, that’s crap. That’s the kinda quote that’ll haunt us forever. Way to go, KG.
(This story originally appeared, in a slightly different form, in the November 2006 issue of Playboy magazine.)