Jack Black Remembers When Tenacious D Got Booed Opening for Stone Temple Pilots
Tenacious D, the audiobook? You better believe it.
As a musical artist, you have to hold a lot of influence to land your own Audible Original "Words + Music" installment. So it's good to know that Tenacious D have finally reached that level with Tenacious D: The Road to Redunktion. It's the full audio story of the longtime comedy rock duo comprised of actors Jack Black and Kyle Gass, in their own words and with some of their most memorable songs re-recorded for good measure.
The Audible project premiered on the audiobook and podcast platform Friday (Aug. 5). Click here to listen. But it wasn't always the big time for Tenacious D, what with their own audiobook and everything. If you can believe it, the pair actually got booed onstage during a gig opening for Stone Temple Pilots back in the day.
The year was 1999. The place was Las Vegas. The show? "The Miller Genuine Draft Blind Date, do you remember this?" Black muses to Loudwire in the giddy manner familiar to moviegoers. "All of these people would win their tickets and fly in," he explains, "and they would get drunk as fuck on Miller Genuine Draft."
The gimmick, however, was that attendees wouldn't know what band was playing until they hit the stage. And while Tenacious D's ensuing works — their 2001 debut album and 2006 musical film, Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, to name but two — have subsequently made them a favorite of metalhead stoners everywhere, the D were still pretty new in 1999. Only their first series of HBO shorts had hit the airwaves.
"They're all thinking, oh my God, it's gonna be fuckin' U2 or something," Black says. Gass adds the suggestion of a Led Zeppelin reunion. Mimicking the angry audience response, Black pantomimes, "The curtain opens, and it's Tenacious D, and everyone in unison just starts booing. Fuck you! You suck! Who are you? This is not a blind date that I like!"
The crowd was reportedly more receptive to headliners Stone Temple Pilots. While they were also a surprise, the grunge act then led by late rock singer Scott Weiland was more firmly established as they prepared for the release of their fourth album that year.
"Epic, what a great show," one concert reviewer said of the double bill. However, Tenacious D were "booed off stage," they claimed, and "no one really knew who or what was going on." But Black remembered things differently, describing why Tenacious D couldn't run away with their tails between their legs.
"We realize early on that if we stop, they're not gonna pay us," the entertainer recalls. "We have contractually agreed to play for 25 minutes. So we just fuckin' nose down and we just play. Shit is flying at us. Looking out in the audience, it's all hatred."
Black continues, "And we have this comedy bit that's supposed to happen halfway through the set where a friend of ours comes out dressed as Spider-Man [during the song 'Spiderman']. It's a hilarious thing where he climbs up a fuckin' rope and does some acrobatics, and it's dumb — it's called 'Cheap-Ass Spidey.' And I look into the wings and there's my friend, and he doesn't have the fuckin' costume on. He's like, [does throat slash gesture]. He's not coming out! … And we just continue, and we plow, and we finish. And, weirdly, by the end of it, I think we won some of them over."
That's just one tale from the annals of the D — one not included in The Road to Redunktion. What is included, however, are many more real-life stories from the outfit's career, several of which even longtime fans may not have already heard. One of the more consequential turns is when Gass experienced a THC-fueled panic attack while traveling with the duo. It ended with Black physically restraining the fellow rocker.
Gass tells Loudwire, "I was having kind of a reality break. But the [cannabis use] was becoming kind of a daily regimen. It was the Starbucks with the two shots, and then these things, the Blackout Brownie — it's 1,000 milligrams of THC. And I started eating those, but it was self-induced mania, really. I fancied myself like I was gonna be Van Gogh or something; I thought that was the creative breakthrough. But I was runnin' way hot, and I was kinda scaring my friends."
"Did you ever see the movie The Exorcist?" Black comically chimes in, unwilling to let the mood drop and drawing a hearty laugh from his musical foil. "I was kind of like Max von Sydow [as Father Lankester Merrin] and I was like, wrestling — I was holding Kyle. And inside of Kyle, there was a demon. I was holding onto him while he had a battle inside of his soul. There was a demon and an angel inside of him wrestling, and I was just holding him down. It was very emotional; it was an emotional ride."
It sure seems like we're getting to know the duo better than we ever have before. But what Tenacious D wouldn't share with Loudwire is exactly what the concept is behind their upcoming "concept album." That's what Black called it on SmartLess last month while spilling that a new studio album from the D is indeed on the way.
Meanwhile, Tenacious D are in good company with their Audible Original. Previous "Words + Music" installments include Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, Against Me!'s Laura Jane Grace, Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong and Alanis Morissette. After all, the series aims to plumb the stories of influential artists with original audio productions.
That's why The Road to Redunktion also features 30 years' worth of never-before-heard Tenacious D archival audio. An Audible summary says it "bring[s] to life every anecdote with a docu-quality that places listeners right then and there. What's unexpected is just how sweet it is to spend two hours with two true friends, both monstrously talented, delighting in their creativity and their unlikely journey from the living room to the stars." Learn more here.