Five Questions for Kyle Gass
Photo by Kevin Scullion Photography
Diablo recently spoke with Walnut Creek native Kyle Gass, who teams up with actor and musician Jack Black in Tenacious D, a hilarious heavy metal act worthy of comparison to comedy gods including Monty Python and Spinal Tap.
Q: When you and Jack formed a band, was the original idea to be the world’s greatest acoustic-metal comedy act?
A: We wanted to be a really good musical duo, and to stand out from the pack you need an angle. It quickly emerged that Jack [was] the dynamic frontman, and I’d be the guitar dude, because Jack’s a good salesman. He’s able to sell the song and say, “Check it out—this really is the greatest song you’re ever going to hear.”
Q: One of the exciting things about a Tenacious D performance is your high-intensity stage persona. Is it difficult to get on that game face backstage?
A: No, it’s natural because it comes from fear. We’re pretty insecure back there. The intensity is a bit of armor. It helps with nerves and kind of becomes a part of the act. We’re lucky enough to play the big rock festivals once in a while. There’s nothing like Rock am Ring in Germany, which we just played [in June]. It’s pretty thrilling, but it’s definitely nerve-rattling.
Q: It’s interesting that you were nominated for a Grammy Award in 2013 in the comedy category, but when you won a Grammy in 2015, it was in a music category.
A: We won Best Metal Performance for our version of Dio’s “The Last in Line.” That was nice, but we felt backlash. The real metal people were not pleased. The Grammys don’t know what they’re doing. We were nominated in comedy for [the album] Rize of the Fenix. That should have won, but Jimmy Fallon won for doing impressions.
Q: You’ve derived so much success from just your creativity and an acoustic guitar. If you were to speak at Las Lomas High’s graduation, what advice would you give the senior class of your alma mater?
A: I’d tell them the opportunities really are there to circumnavigate the system. I think if you’re creative, you can do great things nowadays. You don’t have to wait around for someone to tell you what to do.
Q: If Tenacious D were to play a surprise rooftop concert, like the Beatles did in Let It Be, in Walnut Creek, which building would you use?
A: [Laughs] Macy’s [in Broadway Plaza]. You’ve got a good view over there. That’s such a good idea; I’ve got it in my brain now.
Tenacious D performs at the Masonic in San Francisco on October 25. tenaciousd.com.