For all the seriousness of today's rock, a good joke is often in order — especially if it's a poop joke. Jack Black, one-half of seminal frat rock act Tenacious D, isn't too far removed from his goofy School Of Rock character in real life. He cautions that those who come to see them tonight at the Wiltern won't leave with clean pants. “When we come out onstage and the lights shine, it's like witnessing us come back from the dead,” he tells us. “People are just shitting themselves.”
Following a six-year hiatus after the release of the duo's 2006 album The Pick Of Destiny, they have returned with Rize of the Fenix, full of their trademark tongue-in-cheek vulgarity. (You can stream the full album, above.) It's been speculated that the hiatus was due to Black's ever-burgeoning acting career, but he insists, “It just takes that long to create a powerful work of staggering genius.”
Jokes aside, it's actually the lack of pretentiousness that's made Tenacious D succeed. Gass and Black revamped the rock operetta with their The Pick Of Destiny movie and soundtrack, and have since continued to poke fun at religion, music, and themselves.
“You can get away with a lot more when you're the 'court jesters' of rock,” Black explains. Though the pair have written odes to Satan and explained the joys of tender loving on previous records, Rize of The Fenix has been perceived as the maturation of Tenacious D while retaining their fraternal humor.
It doesn't seem that everyone has always been in on the joke. Though The Pick Of Destiny received a lukewarm response in both critical review and album sales, Black feels that the grandiose live tour in support of the record made up for it. They promise big things for this tour as well.
“We've got technicolor dreamcoats, and there's opening strummed chords, and the fuckin' Phoenix inflates behind us — it's a religious experience. All I have to say is that you're welcome.”
Black and Gass may be peaking, at least when it comes to “dramatic potency” as Black puts it. It raises the question: how do you move forward when everything's meant to be a joke?
Black already has a plan, and it's predictably whimsical. “We'd do that thing that the greats do, where we'd travel the world and find beats, and put them through the D filter,” muses Black. Gass chips in: “We don't have to go there though. We can just Skype them.”
Tenacious D plays tonight at The Wiltern. Doors open at 7 p.m.