By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
“So,” says Jack. “The search for inspirado.”
“Mm-hm,” says Kyle, nodding, miles away, in muffinland. “It’s a universal search.”
“Everybody searches,” says Jack. “But do they? Or do some people just check out? Like robots. And just punch the clock. And say, ‘I’m not searching for anything. I’m just gettin’ by.’ ”
“They say,” says Kyle, “that inspiration is 98 percent perspiration.”
“I don’t think you’re right,” says Jack. “It isn’t perspiration.”
“What is it? Preparation?”
“Yeah. 90 percent condensation.”
For their first public performance, at downtown L.A.’s venerable (and now defunct) Al’s Bar in 1994, Tenacious D had but one song to sing. Fortunately, it was their greatest-and-best-song-in-the-world tribute, “Tribute,” and fortuitously, one Al’s Bar regular, David Cross, was in the audience. One of the finer comedic minds of our time, Cross, and his ?Mr. Show partner, Bob Odenkirk, introduced the band to L.A.’s alternative-comedy scene — Largo, UnCabaret at LunaPark, HBO Workspace — and soon they were performing regularly, then headlining clubs, then opening for the likes of Beck, Pearl Jam, Tool and the Foo Fighters. A devoted local following of mostly young, jaded sophisticates who relished the band’s peculiar rock-comedy catharsis rose swiftly, and in 1998, following Black's appearances in multiple Mr. Shows, and the D's appearance on Saturday Night Live, Cross and Odenkirk’s Dakota Films persuaded HBO to back a television series, Tenacious D, which aired briefly but strongly in 1999.
With their new HBO audience, the D’s fan base quickly multiplied in size, strength and mania. The band’s self-titled 2001 debut CD, produced by the Dust Brothers and featuring Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters), Page McConnell (Phish), Warren Fitzgerald (the Vandals) and Steve McDonald (Redd Kross), went platinum in 2001, hitting No. 33 on the U.S. pop charts and No. 38 in the U.K. (Black’s fast-rising popularity as an actor probably didn’t hurt.)
“Dude,” says Kyle. “I’m excited about this article. ?I really am.”
Jack says, “Can I try to salvage something here?”
“Inspirado,” says Jack, as Kyle’s fucking phone rings again. Jack presses on. “When we were writing this movie — the songs, the script, the whole shaboodle — I took a page out of the David Lynch . . . this is going to sound really pretentious. I watched an interview with David Lynch on Bravo. Some dude named Elvis was interviewing him?”
“And Elvis was asking David Lynch where he got his inspirado. And he said [decent Lynch impersonation], ‘I have a chairrrr, that’s my favorite chairrrr. And I’ll sit in it. And I’ll just wait.’ And I just thought that was so kick-ass. I was, like, ‘Yeah. You’re gonna fuckin’ sit in your favorite chair, and you’re gonna wait for the voice in your head to tell you what the fuckin’ answer is.’ And I employed that. I would close my eyes and put my hands on my eyeballs, like this, and kind of wait, Lynchian-style.”
“Did it happen?” asks Kyle.
“It works!” says Jack. “But sometimes you’ve gotta wait. You’ve gotta be there for 15 or 20 minutes. You wait [Jack conjures a cat face and shoves it against Kyle’s] like a pussycat at the mouse hole.”
“Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah!” says Kyle.
“And the fuckin’ mouse of inspiration will fuckin’ pop its head out. And then you . . . Oh My God! It takes some ef-fort. It takes some in-tent. Like, I in-tend on fucking getting it. I don’t know what it is. That’s what I’m waiting for.”
Jack stands. “You two lovebirds talk a minute. I’m gonna take a piss.”
Kyle stares at me. I stare back.
The government totally sucks, ?you motherfucker
The government totally sucks
—Tenacious D, “The Government ?Totally Sucks” (POD soundtrack)
Jack returns. Kyle’s phone rings. Kyle checks out.
Jack says, “Do you know what I was trippin’ on when I was in New York recently? I was walking down the street thinking, ‘I’m so self-conscious.’ Constantly thinking about how there’re people who are looking at me and thinking something. About me. The way I’m . . . walking, they’re thinking that I’m lame, they’re thinking that I’m walking self-consciously. They’re thinking, ‘Why is he walking so weird? It seems like he’s walking like he knows we’re watching him.’ Just getting all up in my head. And then I realized, No, they don’t care. They’re not looking at me, and if they are, they’re not thinking what I think I’m thinking they’re thinking. But then I thought, Everybody that I see is also thinking that — totally in their own self-conscious bubbles. And we’re all fuckin’ walkin’ around in this weird mirror-bubble, worried that other people are looking at us. And if you can kind of separate yourself from that, get a little bit of objectivity on that . . .”
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