TENACIOUS D’S KYLE GASS FOCUSES ON HIS REDNECK ROCK BAND, TRAINWRECK
:: Trainwreck ::
By Brian F. Johnson
Kyle Gass doesn’t need to have a side project. He’s the co-founder of “the greatest band in the world,” Tenacious D. He’s starred in blockbuster films like Kung Fu Panda, Extreme Movie and, of course, the almost-true to life film The Pick of Destiny, which profiles Gass and bandmate Jack Black as they hunt for the magic to make the D, the world’s greatest band.
The problem, however, is that Gass’ prima donna cohort, Black, is so busy with his movie career, that the D (and subsequently Gass) often get put on the back burner. “Well, you know, Jack is always doing movies, and I just thought that I like to play live a lot and I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to play with the D as often as I’d like — which is kind of a big deal to me,” Gass said in a recent interview with The Marquee. “Plus, I like playing in a band, and also, Jack just steamrolls me on stage. He would just assume me not say anything.”
So, in 2001, when Gass was asked to open for Phish keyboardist Page McConnell’s Vida Blue, he put together a band that he describes as a cornucopia of rock and a five-headed hydra of pleasure — Trainwreck. Over the years, the Wreck has dirt-farmed a sound that lies somewhere in the realm of Southern rock, but with plenty of forays into prog-rock, boogie and straight-up classic rock and roll, as well as absurdist comedy banter and lyrics derived from the characters they’ve developed with the band. When Gass and his bandmates take the stage, they don’t do so with their given names. Instead, they assume alter egos that are as ridiculous as the wigs that they don for each performance. (Yes, Gass has hair when he plays with Trainwreck, as Klip Calhoun.)
Gass said that there was an honest naiveness in his decision to start Trainwreck. “The D was my first band experience, so I was really spoiled and I said to myself, ‘This is easy, I can do it again,’” he said. Little did he know that it would mean starting over again, slumming it in small clubs, riding in broken R.V.s instead of plush busses and having to accept interviews with magazines like The Marquee, instead of Rolling Stone.
“It’s kind of entry level, but it’s really fun to play the small shows, honestly. You don’t make the rent, per se, but it’s fun to go and experience smaller places. As for the R.V., it vibrated a lot and my skeletal structure is probably a little impaired now,” Gass said.
The R.V. died recently, and Gass and his Trainwreck buddies are braving the new tour in a pickup with a trailer. “We’re gonna be packed in there,” Gass said. “This could be it. We might kill each other.”
Usually, in rock and roll, when an album is heralded as “much-anticipated” it means that there were lots of delays and problems getting it finished. Gass said that was most certainly the case for their late-2009 release The Wreckoning, which was seven years in the making.
“We were having John King of the Dust Brothers produce us, and helping us out, but we were kind of a low priority for him. And then we were interrupted by the D movie and it was just kind of fits and farts. So I said, ‘Let’s start over. We can do this ourselves.’ Our bass player John Spiker is a pretty good producer and he plays with Filter and likes to spin the dials. We started from scratch and put all of our best songs on there. We had 16 songs and we were saying to ourselves, ‘Yeah, we have enough for two albums. We can do the White album, here. It’s gonna be great.’ But then we just decided to take the best songs, and the result is The Wreckoning,” Gass said. “We did decide kind of early to split the millions that we’re going to make in publishing.”
For Gass, being proud of this album is a welcome change in his Trainwreck career. “We put out a live album really early, and then we realized, ‘Wait a minute. This sucks. Nobody buy this,’ and low and behold, no one did buy it. So we were saved there,” he said.
Gass said that in addition to touring with Trainwreck behind The Wreckoning this year, that Tenacious D is working on a new album and that it is hoped he and Black will return to the studio some time later this year to “record some classics. But, you know, Jack has some big movie coming out, so we’re just going to leap frog for now,” Gass said. “He’s full of rage and actually hates me, you know?”
:: Trainwreck ::
:: Larimer Lounge :: March 18 ::
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