Tenacious D, the actor/musician duo of Jack Black and Kyle Gass, has been rocking audiences around Hollywood since its debut back in 1994. People here still reminisce about the days when the two "used to play that shitty bar." Well, slots on Mr. Show and the pair's own HBO half-hour specials catapulted them to cult icons. But since the release of the platinum-selling debut Tenacious D: The Complete Works, Black and Gass have found mainstream recognition. Equal parts irony-laced humor and devastating folk-metal, the duo seemed to somehow get at what was purest about rock, despite fantastically absurd lyrics that seemingly castrated the entire genre. Their first feature film, Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny, hits theaters Wednesday. Like their music, it's equal parts comedy and rock fantasy and might just be the funniest film you'll see all year.
Outtakes: Do you remember your first gig?
Jack Black: We played our one song [opening for friends Abe Lincoln Story] and I'm sure I'm exaggerating this in my mind but I remember the audience kind of flipping out. They were cheering very hard. There were screams, laughter, and a very big, supportive ovation. Might've even been a couple of tears.
Do you have any thoughts as to why, considering how many actors have tried to front bands and been crucified for it, you two stand almost alone in the amount of respect given to you?
Kyle Gass: I think the problem is most musicians take themselves so seriously. I think the humor has almost allowed us to show off a little more. Like, "Oh, we're just funny," but then we're rocking very hard.
JB: I remember early on, a couple of people saying, "You guys are so great. Why don't you sing for real and really mean what you're singing about? Why are you always making fun of what you're singing about? Why don't you have the balls to be real like Pearl Jam." I remember feeling like, maybe I am avoiding something. But that was just always our strength. We were court jesters. And I think that made us critic-proof.
Which do you enjoy more, the music or the film?
KG: There's something pretty pure about music, just the process of coming up with a song and reworking it.
JB: I definitely feel like I'm half and half, like, what do you call it? Half-horse, half-man? I'm a centaur! I'm only half of a musician, and I'm only half of an actor. You can't separate me, because then I'd die. 'Cause I wouldn't have my horse body. Cole Haddon
Though the concept of a one-man jam band may seem like a contradiction, that's precisely what guitarist/self-accompanyist Keller Williams is considered by his fans. Not shy about playing the acoustic like a percussion instrument or making beats with his mouth, Williams sets off loops of various parts to flesh out a song, often with animated physical movements and tongue firmly in cheek. (His song titles include gems like "Cracker Ass Cracker," and he's tackled the Sugar Hill Gang's "Rapper's Delight" in concert.) Outtakes spoke with Williams about the technical difficulties that continue to factor prominently into his live presentation, as well as his yearning to play in a band again.
Outtakes: You like to go with the moment when malfunctions happen.
Keller Williams: The most recent one was in Eindhoven, Holland, a couple of weeks ago. When you have electronics made in America and you go over to Europe and plug them in with different adaptors and things, there are certain places where they'll malfunction more than others especially Holland, for some reason. In Amsterdam, we've had things just blow up when they're plugged in. Most recently, I would hit the mute button and it was on like a five-second delay.
That's an eternity in terms of missing a cue in a song.
What's even worse is if it mutes, and you go to hit the mute again to bring the part back and it doesn't come back.
How much do you think, when stuff like that happens, it seems intentional or enhances the song?
I hope a hundred percent of the time. It's exciting in a horrible sort of way. I either have to start the song over or go into something completely different. The amount of improvisation is just huge at that point. The folks that have seen me several times might be into it because they know that's not supposed to happen.
How much do European audiences label music less than Americans do, as "hippie" or whatever?
Europeans are a little less privvy to the jam scene. As opposed to Japan, where they know all the words to all the songs by all the jam bands that go there. It's really quite surreal. Saby Reyes-Kulkarni
Keller Williams performs Thursday, November 16, at Revolution, 200 W. Broward Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. The show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $21.50. Call 954-727-0950, or visit www.jointherevolution.net.
An Open Letter to Nick Lachey
We here at Outtakes want to offer you our support and assistance during this, your time of post-divorce adjustment. You've been putting up a brave front, dating busty tarts and launching a national tour to coincide with your latest CD, but we know that's all just a mask to hide your true, heartbroken feelings of abandonment and despair.
To help raise your spirits, we've come up with a list of the top ten reasons you're better off without your ex-wife, What's Her Name. Don't take this the wrong way: We like your ex-wife (when was her last hit single? 2004?); it's just that we like you better.
So, next time you're sitting all alone in your dressing room, Nick-Nick, just whip this out (the list, that is), and you'll be sure to cheer up. Enjoy!
Reason 10. You'll never again have to explain why your sister-in-law tried to lip-sync on Saturday Night Live.
Reason 9. Kissing will no longer require coordinating a film crew, two publicity reps, and hair and makeup personnel.
Reason 8. The burp factor in your house will go down by 350 percent. (Dude, what were you feeding that girl?)
Reason 7. You don't have to worry if trying to get your wife to clean out her closet will make for good television.
Reason 6. You are no longer, in any way, related to any Simpsons (not Jessica or Ashley, Bart or Homer).
Reason 5. You won't have to comment on your sister-in-law's "I didn't get a nose job, I didn't, I didn't!" nose job.
Reason 4. You'll never have to cringe when your father-in-law publicly, repeatedly, and often without provocation refers to your wife's bouncy double D's.
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Reason 3. Paramedics won't need the jaws of life to pry you out of your wife's cleavage the next time her bouncy double D's slam shut on your head when you're trying to get a snuggle (not that that ever happened, of course, but it could have oh, the horror!).
Reason 2. You don't have to disguise asking your wife for a blowjob with a coy "You know what I like" just because the television cameras are on you 24/7.
Reason 1. You'll never have to celebrate your wedding anniversary on a charity trip to Africa.
Nick, go out and find yourself a nice girl, somebody with no intrusive, lip-synching, nose-jobbing, double D's-fixated family to hinder your happiness. Heck, at least try to find somebody who can spell your last name without a cheat sheet ("Mrs. Leaky, no, no... Mrs. Leechy, no, that's not it! Daddeeee, what the hell is my last name?") Olivia Flores Alvarez