Jack Black seems to think more people will actually see “Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny” when it’s released next week than the final box-office take might end up suggesting.
Truth is, he thinks “cute, softie” films, like the animated dancing-penguin tale “Happy Feet,” will benefit tremendously from his film’s being slapped with an “R” rating. He reasoned that his band’s underage fans will just “buy tickets to ‘Happy Feet’ and then sneak over to the ‘D’ movie.”
He’s also worried about his film facing off against “Borat,” which has crushed the competition for two straight weeks.
“I’m a huge fan of Sacha Baron Cohen’s, and I think he’s a comedic revolutionary,” Black said of the man who portrays the Kazakhstani reporter. “It’s akin to when the Beatles came in and took over rock. So we’re Elvis, and I can live with that. I’ll have to.”
But there’s much more to keep Tenacious D — Black and his heavy-metal soul mate Kyle Gass — anxious than their big-screen fate. Black said he’s not sure if there will be a sequel, but if there is, “I’m pretty sure we end up in space.”
The band just released its second full-length album, The Pick of Destiny. The follow-up to the D’s 2001 self-titled debut doubles as the film’s soundtrack, and Black and Gass wrote the material around the movie’s story line. And yes, Gass said the D were under a significant amount of pressure to replicate the awesomeness of Tenacious D.
“Well, we’ve only put out one record in 12 years, so we’re not working too hard,” he said. “But yeah, there was pressure. I thought the first one came out great, and we had to come out with all new songs for the movie. So it was tough.” There had to be a balance, he said, with both the record and the film, between pleasing old Tenacious D fans and drawing new ones in.
“We thought about it from the get-go,” he explained. “We know the people who like us really like us, but that would only be $100,000 at the box office. So we had to make it so people would sort of get it, and then we didn’t want to neglect the base. That’s what was tough.”
“I never thought about the fans,” said Black, interrupting his partner. “We never thought about the fans before we had fans, and that’s what got us fans. Why think about the fans now? You just try to make yourself laugh and make it funny for you, and hopefully, you’ll get a delicious response. We just needed to write more around the story of the movie, which we really did on the first album too. A lot of our songs came from comedy gigs where there’d be some alternative comedy shows that had themes for the night, and one night it would be a sasquatch theme, so we’d write for that with a deadline.”
More importantly, though, was securing metal deity Ronnie James Dio for both productions. Dio appears on the album and has a cameo role in the film. “We could’ve done it without him,” said Gass, “but we wrote the song [‘Kickapoo’] with him in mind. We would have to rewrite the song if he’d said no.”
But it was the track “Dio,” from Tenacious D, that helped turn Ronnie on to the D and the reason he agreed to work with the band.
“He enjoyed the song that we wrote for him on our first album, which kind of was a slam, saying he was too old to rock,” Black said. “But more importantly, it was also a tribute to his excellence. And he loved it and he asked us to come do a little part in a music video he was doing, and we said, ‘OK, but here’s the catch — you have to be in our movie and on our album.’ We knew we had him. And it was important. Who would we have gotten if it wasn’t him? We’d have to go to Ozzy [Osbourne], and if Ozzy said no, we’d have to go to [Eric] Clapton. But Clapton doesn’t have the devil in him, so we might have ended up with Glenn Danzig.”
Tenacious D will hit the road starting Friday in Los Angeles for a brief U.S. tour that will hit Denver, Detroit, New York and Washington, D.C., before wrapping December 5 in Atlanta. And they’ve got huge plans for the concert’s production.
“We’ve always wanted to get some priests out in front of our concerts, yelling, ‘Don’t go in there — your soul will be damned for eternity,’ because that means you’ve made it,” Black said. “Or at least that was the signal for success during the ’80s metal days. But at our shows, we start off with a re-creation of Kyle’s apartment from 15 years ago. He had a really crappy apartment. We called it ‘the Cockroach.’ We jam there for a while, for the first chunk of the concert, and then we die, and we go to hell, and the stage is transformed into the landscape of hell.
“Then we form a band with Charlie Chaplin, Colonel Sanders and the Antichrist,” he continued. “The rest of the show is in hell, and there are some pretty high production values. Some might complain that the tickets are too much. But we’re not making any money — we’re losing money on the tour. We’re like f—ing Pink Floyd now. Not since Styx’s ‘Mr. Roboto’ has there been such a high-concept tour.”
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