Tenacious D is an American rock band that formed in Los Angeles, California in 1994. Comprising lead vocalist and guitarist Jack Black and lead guitarist and vocalist Kyle Gass, the band has released two albums– Tenacious D (2001) and The Pick of Destiny (2006). The band's studio releases, and more recently its live performances, feature a full band lineup, including such musicians as guitarist John Konesky, bassist John Spiker and drummer Brooks Wackerman.
Tenacious D formed in 1994 when the members performed as an acoustic duo. The band first gained popularity in 1999 when they starred in their eponymous television series and began to support large rock acts. In 2001, they released Tenacious D, their debut album featuring a full band. In 2006, they starred in, and recorded the soundtrack for, the film Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. In support of the film, the band went on a world tour, appearing for the first time with a full band.
Tenacious D's music showcases Black's theatrical vocal delivery and Gass's acoustic guitar playing abilities. Critics have described their fusion of vulgar comedy with rock music as "mock rock". Their songs discuss the duo's purported musical and sexual prowess, as well as their friendship and cannabis usage in a style that music critics have compared with the storyteller-style lyrics of rock opera.
Black and Gass met in Edinburgh, Scotland during the Edinburgh Fringe of 1989. Both were members of the Los Angeles-based theater troupe, The Actors' Gang which was performing Tim Robbins' and Adam Simon's play Carnage.Initially there was animosity between the two as Gass felt threatened by Black—who was the main musician for the Actor's Gang—though they eventually worked out their differences, and agreed to form a band. Gass taught Black to play guitar, in exchange for Black helping Gass with his acting. Initially when Black and Gass performed live they covered songs by Bobby McFerrin.Up until 1993 the duo did not have a name, so they gave the audience at their first concert, at the now defunct Al's Bar, the chance to vote for one. Black and Gass gave them the choice between "Pets or Meat", "Balboa's Biblical Theatre", and "The Axe Lords Featuring Gorgazon’s Mischief" (Gass' personal favorite). "Tenacious D"—the name used by sports commentator Marv Albert to describe robust defensive positioning in basketball—did not get the majority of votes, however, but according to Black "we forced it through". In attendance was David Cross who later cast Jack Black in his sketch comedy television series, Mr. Show.
Television series (1997–2000)
Cross, with Mr. Show writer Bob Odenkirk, continued his involvement with Tenacious D by producing three half-hour shows based on the band. The series, entitled Tenacious D, premiered on HBO in 1997, immediately following an episode of Mr. Show. While a total of three episodes consisting of two shorts, ten to twelve minutes in length, were produced, only the first was aired that year; the final two episodes did not air until the summer of 2000. According to Gass, the series was canceled after HBO requested ten episodes, but in doing so, he and Black would have to relinquish their role as executive producers, and only write songs.] Gass and Black decided to make a film instead. Many songs that eventually were included on the band's first album were first featured on the show, though the episodes also contain songs that remain unreleased.
After the series aired, the band continued to perform live. At a show at the Viper Room in Los Angeles, they met Dave Grohl, who remarked that he was impressed with their performance; this led to their cameo in the Foo Fighters' "Learn to Fly" music video.The popularity of Tenacious D further increased as they began to open for high profile acts, including Beck, Pearl Jam, and Foo Fighters.
First album Tenacious D (2001–2003)
In May 2000 Tenacious D signed to Epic Records. The band worked on recording their first album with producers the Dust Brothers. In 2001 they released their debut Tenacious D. It peaked at number thirty-three on the Billboard 200 on October 13, 2001.While Tenacious D usually appears as a duo, the album was backed by a full band, consisting of Dave Grohl on drums and guitar, keyboardist Page McConnell of Phish, guitarist Warren Fitzgerald of The Vandals, and bassist Steven Shane McDonald of Redd Kross.
The first single from the album was "Tribute" Tribute —a tribute to the "greatest song in the world" which, in the song, Tenacious D claimed they had performed in order to save their souls from a demon. A music video, directed by Liam Lynch, was shot for the song.The video achieved success and was voted the fifth best music video ever by Kerrang! readers. This was followed by the second single, "Wonderboy " Wonderboy , the music video of which was directed by Spike Jonze. A third video, an animation depicting Black and Gass as cherubs, was made for "Quack Her Gently" F@#k Her Gently , directed by Ren and Stimpy-creator John Kricfalusi.
The Complete Masterworks, a music DVD featuring the entire run of their TV series, music videos, and a live performance from London's Brixton Academy recorded in 2002, was released in November 9, 2003.
In October 2003 Black announced that the screenplay for The Pick of Destiny—a fictional portrayal of the band's formation—had been completed. The film was initially to be written and developed by Working Title Films, but Black and Gass decided to assume creative control when they were not satisfied with the writers' ideas. Filming had been expected to take place by the end of 2003; however, it was delayed by almost a year due to Black being cast in Peter Jackson's big budget remake of King Kong. The band started recording songs for the soundtrack of the film, their second studio album, The Pick of Destiny. The album had John Konesky and John Spiker from Trainwreck on electric guitar and bass respectively. Dave Grohl again played drums, and further lent vocals to "Beelzeboss (The Final Showdown)" Beelzeboss (The Final Showdown) as well as acting in the film, as Satan.
To coincide with the release of their new film and album, Tenacious D embarked on their 2006–07 tour of the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. This tour included the band's first appearance at New York City's Madison Square Garden. Unlike other tours, this one featured a full backing band. Konesky and Spiker resumed their roles from the album, and Brooks Wackerman was added as drummer. Each member used a pseudonym; Konesky as the Antichrist, Spiker as Charlie Chaplin, and Wackerman as Colonel Sanders.[Jason Reed also toured as Satan.
Tenacious D performing at the Leeds festival Black hinted at a third album by announcing that a new song has been written for it entitled Death Star. He said that the album would likely be released in 2010, but on other occasions he has mentioned the year 2012. In early 2008, Black announced that the band was working on a new album, and a DVD titled The Complete Masterworks Part 2. The DVD was released later that year, and included a documentary of their world tour entitled D Tour: A Tenacious Documentary. The film focuses on the tour Tenacious D made in support of the film and soundtrack and the consequences of their film's poor showing at the box office Kyle has commented that the new album only has "one to one and a half" songs written for it, and would like to write between twelve and fifteen.
The band played the main stage at the 2008 Reading and Leeds Festivals in the UK, playing Leeds on Friday, August 22 and Reading on Sunday, August 24. In addition to this, the band provided support for Metallica at Marlay Park, Dublin in Ireland on August 20. The D headlined the last night of the 2009 Outside Lands Festival in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, on Sunday August 30, 2009.Music magazine Billboard quoted Black as revealing that "We just laid down a hot [...] we're calling it the bomb track. It's a very powerful recording called "Deph Starr" [...] so it has nothing to do with the Star Wars (Death Star)," adding that "It's kind of sci-fi, doomsday rock." Jack Black also stated on David Letterman that he had an idea for a song called "Rise Of The Phoenix", which he described as a "rise from the ashes" workout song similar to Eye Of The Tiger. He performed a vocal sample of the song along to keyboards. "The Rise of The Phoenix" was played live at a charity show in Los Angeles at The Echoplex on December 8, 2009, followed by two other new songs entitled "The Roadie" and "Quantum Leap."