The Kyle Gass Band are getting ready to jump the pond so to speak, as they embark upon their forthcoming European tour.
Kyle Gass is best known as one-half of Tenacious D (alongside Jack Black). Last year The Kyle Gass band released their critically acclaimed sophomore album The Thundering Herd. The band’s latest single “Cakey” has been playlisted at Planet Rock radio for several weeks now.
The Kyle Gass Band will be making their first appearance in the UK at the end of March, with dates booked throughout the start of April. In addition, heavily armed with a bunch of songs from their current album Thundering Herd the band will continue their European tour this time visiting in addition to the UK – Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Czech Republic, Poland and the Netherlands.
National Rock Review recently caught up with Kyle Gass to talk about his latest offering and the band’s touring plans along with his thoughts on the holographic Ronnie James Dio and collaborating with Michael Bublé.
NRR: Where abouts do we find you today?
Kyle: I’m at home in North Hollywood, California – just kicking it, chillaxing.
NRR: So you’ve been out on tour across the US recently, I know you did some shows at the end of last year and I noticed you were performing in LA at the weekend. I was just wondering how have the shows been going so far?
Kyle: Really, really good. Through geographical oddity, we have a venue about 100 yards from my house and it’s a real nice size. We’ve played there a couple of times now and it’s really been going off. Sometimes you know Europe has been better for us, so it’s nice to do well. Yeah, the shows have been going good.
NRR: Last year you realised your new album, Thundering Herd, I was just wondering if you could tell us a little bit about the album and the inspiration behind it?
Kyle: Well, you know the sophomore effort is always a challenge. Actually, I had a feeling that if we went across the pond as it were, it would do well and we did. We hooked up with some German managers ‘Eat Music’ and they sort of pushed us to come up with another batch, because our first album was getting a little long in the tooth, so we rereleased that one.
We also got a new drummer too – Tim, we call him Bone, he’s got his own song on the record. We were having drummer problems, as many bands do, but he kind of came and saved the day. He’s just a great drummer, a great personality and he became a really great pal, and I think he re-energised the bunch. So yeah, it was also the first album with him and he sang a lot; a real talented guy. Then once we got going, it’s just great, it’s fun to make an album.
It’s a challenge, though, it took us over a year really. It’s really challenging to make one from scratch (laughing), we were proud of the result and its rocking. We called in some favours, and John Spiker produced it who produces Tenacious D now, engineer’s and plays bass with us. So yeah I’ve got some talented friends helping out, so it was really fun.
NRR: How much different is it writing and recording songs for your own band vs that of Tenacious D?
Kyle: Well you know, it’s very different, but you know it’s really you are doing the same thing, just trying to make kick ass rock songs (laughing). Also, obviously the songwriting is different, but it’s just mainly Mike, Bone, John Konesky and myself writing together a part.
It’s a chance for me to sing lead, so I sing 3 or 4,5 songs; I just love it. I love singing lead and I don’t do that in Tenacious D, so that’s fun. I play less guitar, but more flute. Actually, the humour is similar, maybe just because me and my pals kind of share that, so that kind of comes out.
Really I think the musicianship is kind of more in the forefront, everyone is a virtuoso (laughing), except for me. It’s fun, we have a lot of fun with that.
NRR: No inward singing though?
Kyle: Unfortunately, I can’t, that’s you know Jack’s thing. He refused to teach me, I don’t know why, jealousy – who knows why?
NRR: You guys are really good at fusing comedy and music together. I was just wondering what makes you laugh, and who are your favourite stand-up comedians?
Kyle: I like Louis C.K., and I like …yeah …Wow, that’s all I can think of right now, but I like Louis, he’s really good (laughing).
Stand up is a tough one, though, I mean it’s gone in and out of favour over the years, now it seems a little bit kind of tired, but you know when it’s good it’s good … I think we should maybe start over and maybe you have to get a stand-up card, you have to be sort of vetted properly. You can’t just let anybody up there, it’s too many, there are too many venues.
NRR: I know that you guys have got a lot of shows coming up in Europe, you are also doing some summer festivals, and I know you are playing Ramblin’ Man Fair. I was just wondering, for those who have yet to see you perform live, what can your fans expect from one of your shows?
Kyle: Well they can expect the best rock show live possibly they’ve ever seen. I know that that sounds like hyperbole, and I know that sounds like maybe I just planted a big word, but more than a few people have said it. I think the reason is, the combination of stellar rocking musicianship coupled with the fun, because that’s the thing that a lot of bands miss, they forget why everyone is there to party down and have a really great time.
So I think they can expect the best show they’ve ever seen. Now if it doesn’t happen, but it’s not in one of the top shows they’ve ever seen, we will refund their money, if they can find me, but they have to find me. Well, I guarantee it’s good fun, it’s great, it’s a band and a great show.
NRR: Obviously, you guys you’ve been to the UK many times before.
Kyle: No we haven’t. Who has the Kyle Gass Band or Tenacious D?
NRR: Well you as a person, you’ve been here quite a few times.
Kyle: Oh yes, sorry yes of course.
NRR: I was just wondering what do you like the most about our little island?
Kyle: Ah, the people (laughing). It sounds cliché, but I don’t know, it’s true. I think the accents are delightful; I think they are fake, but they are delightful none the less and everyone’s signed up for it. I’m going like alright you guys did it, it all makes you sound smarter but here’s the thing, you guys are smarter, which I love because you know it’s like you are like us only you are like the smart cool friend, those are the guys that read books and stuff and it’s just great. So it really is the people. But I love the countryside and London, you know London is awesome.
NRR: Being out on the road you must have met a lot of your fans along the way, I was just wondering what’s been your strangest or memorable fan encounter in recent times?
Kyle: Well, I don’t know I try to block them out, it becomes kind of a wash. You know there’s been some mother/daughter teams, there are people you know they follow you back, which is sometimes a little scary; yeah you’ve got to be careful out there (laughing).You’ve got to be a little more careful.
I think I played it a little fast in the old days. Sometimes you would end up at a party or someplace, it’s like whoa I’m not quite sure where I am, my life might be in jeopardy? I’m not sure about that pipe over there, what’s happening? You guys are getting a little aggressive, I think you are not letting me leave, you know. It’s fun to throw yourself into the adventures, but then as you get older, it’s like hmm, I think I want to be back at the hotel with some room service and watching CNN and keeping up on the collapse of democracy.
NRR: I was just wondering what’s your favourite track to perform live and why?
Kyle: Oh, you know there’s two songs actually that I didn’t have much to do with, (laughing). I think it was Mike and John, but it’s “Regretta” and “Bring Her Back Better” and they are just kind of straight ahead rock numbers. Some pretty chords in the truth, but I don’t know what it is they are just really fun, sometimes those are the funner, the real high energy rock and roll, and those are good.
I love to sing, I have a real weakness for covers and I know it’s wrong but I sneak some covers. So yeah, I do the one from Big Lebowski a lot, I like to sing that one – “Condition” (sings a line from the song). We end the show usually with “Vehicle”, that old Ides of March song and that’s the other one.
I know solos are kind of out of fashion, but unfortunately, it’s one of my favourite parts of rock, so you know the show is full of ridiculous solos, and that’s really just for my pleasure and enjoyment.
NRR: I was just wondering who was the first band that you ever saw play live and how did that first live experience affect you?
Kyle: I think it was Heart, and Robert Palmer opened back when he had his hit (sings a bit of “Bad Case of Loving You”). Then Heart blew my mind because you know it was like hot girls and one of them played hot acoustic guitar, I was like this is all good. They are playing rock and roll, and they were sexy and hot. Yeah, it was good, it was all good.
NRR: I was just wondering what’s the one album in your record collection that you couldn’t live without?
Kyle: Well, you know I don’t think there is, I can live without …This is sad to say, you want the honest answer don’t you? I don’t have a record collection, so apparently, I can live without it. But, I think the record though, I think it’s a cliché but, “The White Album” hit me at a time in my life that it really affected me and kind of just I don’t know, it just sort of changed my world view (laughing). I know it’s a lot of people’s favourite but, it’s a great album. It’s so weird too.
NRR: I just wanted to talk to you briefly about Dio, because I know obviously you worked with him on the Pick of Destiny, and you even wrote the song about him, which I love that song. Every time I think of Dio that song comes into my head. There is talk of Dio’s Disciples going out on the road with a holographic version of Ronnie James Dio fronting the band.
Kyle: (laughing) I haven’t heard that one.
NRR: I just wondered what are your thoughts on that, do you think that’s a cool idea or do you think it’s a bit weird?
Kyle: I think it’s a terrible idea that I’d love to see, do you know what I mean? That’s kind of great rock and roll right there, you know it’s sort of like it’s the worst idea ever – I’ve got to see this (laughing). A holograph of Dio, you know I guess if he had great track and a live band, you know Dio’s obviously a great, great vocalist (laughing) and then if he had a great hologram that might just be interesting to see. I’m gonna say you know what, I’m gonna say I would love to see it. Let’s put it out there. Maybe, we do charity work too, maybe it could go to charity.
NRR: I know you’ve worked with some musical greats like we just mentioned there Dio, Dave Grohl, Meat Loaf to name but a few. I was just wondering if you could collaborate with any artist in particular who would be your dream collaboration.
Kyle: Oh wow, good question – whoa, I don’t know, I haven’t thought about it. Let’s see who would be fun to collaborate with. Well, I just met Michael Bublé, and he said he wanted to collaborate, and I’m just a big geeky fan. I said you be careful Buubs, I am a big geeky fan and I’m ready to collaborate with you anytime. So I would love, I would love to collaborate with Bublé.
That reminds me I’ve got to write a song for him, I’ve got to write a hit. But it’s that thing, do you write Bublé like a crooner type of hit that he usually does or do you write him a Tenacious D song, because he probably doesn’t want to do a normal song, he wants to rock out. I think that’s the move. Super nice guy though, great guy, I’ve got to give it up.
NRR: What else do you have in store for the rest of this year?
Kyle: Well we are coming over two more times to play some festival with the Kyle Gass Band. Then I think we are going to try to get out to the east coast, which is really far for us, but we are trying to get something going for September because we really need to bring it out there, we always tour the western part of the country. The US is so big, so there’s a lot of touring going on.
Then I think that should probably end that cycle and then for Jack and I to start working on our stuff. Then me relaxing and watching some Warriors basketball, and raising my children that I don’t have.
NRR: Well that sounds great, thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us today I really, really appreciate it. Good luck with everything you’ve got going on, and hopefully we will see you over here in the UK shortly.
Kyle: Yeah man, thanks so much.
The Kyle Gass Band will be touring the UK throughout the end of March/start of April.
Kyle Gass Band UK Tour Dates:
31.03.GB-Glasgow – Cathouse
01.04.GB-Manchester – Satans Hollow
03.04.GB-Birmingham – Asylum 2
04.04.GB-London – Boston Music Room
Kyle Gass Band
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Photo: © Matt Grayson