WTF Is Tenacious DJ? Jack Black and Kyle Gass Explain — Sort of
Jack Black and Kyle Gass, the duo known as Tenacious D, have expanded their musical empire. Besides being the self-proclaimed "best band in the world," The D, as they're affectionately/reverently known to fans, are also the progenitors of Festival Supreme on Oct. 29. The eight-hour extravaganza of comedy and music, which is fast becoming a Los Angeles Halloween-season tradition (wear a costume!) this year features one of the strongest lineups yet. We talked to Black (aka Jables) and Gass (aka Rage Kage) to get the "deep scoop" on this year's fest.
LA Weekly: So how many years have you been doing Festival Supreme now?
Jack Black: This will be our fourth year.
Kyle Gass: It just gets better.
J.B.: It’s always felt pretty silky smooth right out of the gate. I’m just going to say the smoothness continues.
Tell me a little bit about what we’ll be treated to for this year's lineup.
J.B.: This year is an explosive combination of music and comedy, as every year is. Might be our finest year ever. We got Flight of the Conchords — that’s always been the brass ring. They were always the main people we wanted to get, and mission accomplished.
You’ve been trying to get them for a few years?
J.B.: From the beginning. We’ve been trying to get something together with Flight of the Conchords for more than 10 years.
K.G.: [laughs incredulously]
J.B.: Yeah, we’ve been trying to get something going with Flight of the Conchords since before they had a television series. But whatever. Look, it’s happening.
So what was Kyle laughing about back there?
J.B.: Oh, no. No follow-up questions. You’re not going to get the deep scoop. Just the cream on the top. But we’ve got Weird Al. I feel like that’s enough right there. That’s a one-two punch that is enough for your time and your money — that’s an insane ticket already. But then you add to it Mac DeMarco, Sarah Silverman, Patton Oswalt. These people are some of the finest comedians and musicians on the planet, at this particular time. It’s going to be right before the election, so you know that Patton and Sarah are going to have some searing commentary.
K.G.: Don’t we have the music of Wet Hot American Summer? And The Vandals?
J.B.: And don’t fall asleep on Tim Heidecker —
K.G.: I never do.
J.B.: He’s the surrealist of comedy. He’s the Salvador Dali of comedy. Also Fred Armisen in full effect. We got a lot of SNLers. We got Maya Rudolph and Will Forte. Oh, and also Jenny Slate.
Which act on your bill is better than everybody else?
J.B.: Why would we ever say that?
I thought you were gonna say The D.
J.B.: I can’t believe you're trying to get the deep scoop and do a smear campaign. It’s a gotcha. But I think this year it's also our strongest theme. We’re going to space. It’s the final frontier.
K.G.: We’re building a giant Death Star. With everything you need.
J.B.: Did you ever see Blade Runner? Remember how everybody left Earth and Earth just turned into ...
J.B.: ... a really dark alley filled with dim sum restaurants? Don’t you ever wish you could have seen, like, where did everyone go? Some kind of crazy, spacey Valhalla? You didn’t get to see that in Blade Runner, but you will get to see it at Festival Supreme.
K.G.: It's about finding another place to live. Time to leave the planet for a while. And we’re offering that option.
J.B.: It’s the inside of the hull of the Death Star, which is the Tenacious D spacecraft. Did you ever see Wall-E? Kind of like a gigantic ocean line cruisers where everything you need is in the Death Star. You’ve got waterslides, all of your entertainment needs are fulfilled. Your delicious foods and snacks. You’re going to enter and be deloused by gorgeous assistants ...
Are they going to shave my head like Ripley in the third Alien movie?
JB: No, not scary space. But it’s Halloween-adjacent, so there will be aliens and astronauts.
So Kyle, I saw you venture out of backstage last time, get mobbed by fans and head back.
K.G.: Who, me?
Yeah. Have you thought about putting on a mask and enjoying the festival yourself, incognito?
K.G.: It’s impossible to disguise myself, no matter what. It’s my body type.
J.B.: Do people recognize your shape?
K.G.: It’s very distinctive.
J.B.: I think it’s your gait. It’s the balls of your feet.
OK, I’m taking notes. Balls. Got it.
So you got some of your favorite artists, but who’s your big get when you look to the future of the event? Your brass ring?
K.G.: When we started, our dream lineup was Flight of the Conchords, Spinal Tap and Lonely Island.
J.B.: We wanted the "Monsters of Comedy Rock." To march in to Los Angeles on the hooves of the four horsemen of comedy rock. But who’s on our dream list? Spinal Tap. Devo.
J.B.: Oh, Ween would be amazing. These are the acts we try to get every year. They tease us, it seems like they’re coming, then at the last second there’s a switcheroo. But hope springs eternal and we don’t hold a grudge. Tease us all you want. We're gluttons for punishment.
I also noticed the lineup says "Tenacious DJ." What's that mean?
J.B.: Are we allowed to talk about it?
K.G.: Well, the writing was on the wall: Rock is dead. What are we to do? They say publish or perish, adapt or die. So I went on Amazon Prime and I found a DJ kit. All in one. And this is our new direction. They don't want the rock anymore. It’s sad, but we’ve got to change with the times.
So who are your DJ influences?
JB: Skrillex, of course. Deadmaus.
K.G.: What the hell? What? Who?
J.B.: Um, uh, Daft Punk, but not ... tell her some of the DJs that you know that are not as well known as those three.
K.G.: I like the Sugar Hill Gang. I don’t know if they’re still active. But I like, um, MC Hammer.
J.B.: Now wait a second. He wasn’t really a DJ, Kyle.
K.G.: He wasn’t?
J.B.: Now you’re just saying 1970s and '80s… Who’s the jazz dude that does that ... [begins singing the tune to Herbie Hancock's "Rockit"] ... bwowmp bwowmp, bwowmp bwowmp, bwowmp bwowmp wowmp wowmp, deert deernee nert, beem beem beep …
K.G: Jan Hammer? Is he gonna be there?
J.B.: Bwowmp Bwowmp ... Rockit! I’m gonna drop some beats!
Is that seriously what Tenacious DJ means?
J.B.: We’re gonna go deep and wide. You are witnessing the creative pulse.
So we’re not going to see the classic Tenacious D set where Kyle leaves the band?
J.B.: We don’t know, so how would you know, and why would we tell you anyway? How would that help?
K.G.: You just want a scoop.
I do. Tell me something tantalizing.
J.B.: If you like Skrillex, you’re going to love Tenacious DJ.
K.G.: We saw Skrillex, and he was in a spaceship.
J.B.: So we might have been inspired by Skrillex, for real.
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