Its easy for national media and celebrities to pick on Myrtle Beach, and its kind of fun to be the recipient of the razzing, if you dont take yourself too seriously. Comedy Centrals Stephen Colbert, a Charlestonian, has poked fun at us. Danny McBride of Eastbound & Down trashed our little town in the shows 2012 season on HBO, and Honey Boo Boos network, TLC, and its mock-reality television program Welcome to Myrtle Manor may lead the uninitiated into thinking were one giant redneck trailer park with an equally gigantic sand box.
When actor/musician Jack Black of Tenacious D started ranting to Foo Fighter and part-time Tenacious D drummer Dave Grohl on the Chelsea Lately television program in late February, it got really personal. Black cited the (at the time) supposed lack of ticket sales for Saturdays Tenacious D show at the House of Blues calling Myrtle Beach icy cold. In his faux frustration he declared Fuck Myrtle Beach! which got a big laugh, and no doubt ruffled the feathers of a few humorless locals. But it was, of course, all good sardonic fun, and rather self-deprecating on part of the D. Black and 20-year comic partner Kyle Gass were pretending to be upset about not being able to sell-out Myrtle Beach, with no real malice toward its citizenry. Right?
An interview with Black and Gass by radio team Mase and Kinard on Myrtle Beachs WKZQ-FM on Feb. 18, we think, proves that the Tenacious D partnership is all about comedy, and they assured Myrtle Beach of their respect. As soon as I saw them on Chelsea Lately I was calling their management, said radio personality Mason Mase Brazelle. They [Tenacious D] handled it really well and seemed to have fun. Black joked about the appearance and his remarks. I love Myrtle Beach, he said. I want to rock Myrtle Beach I just wish wed sold more than 13 tickets. As of press time the House of Blues reports that sales have indeed exceeded 13.
Tickets have sold really well, said Dawn Temples, Brand Marketing Manager for House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach. Were hoping for a sell-out, but we know we will at least have a very good night. We sold a lot more tickets than the 13 Jack Black joked about [selling] on the Chelsea Lately show, she said. That the show would be well attended was never really in question, Jack Black is, after all, a bonafide movie star, and Tenacious D has a loyal following.
But why is our little sandbox getting all this attention?
Love it or hate it, Myrtle Beach has been in the national spotlight more often as of late, and many locals say Bring it on! In a recent phone interview with Weekly Surge Black and Gass were good humored and seemed to be enjoying their own on-again-off time in the spotlight as Americas best known comedy rock duo. But why come to the Myrtle Beach area in March? Its off-season, were off the beaten path, far from significant population centers, Interstate access, and not likely to produce large revenue streams for anybody, including Black, whose net worth is estimated to be between $30-$40 million.
But come they will.
It seems in the last two years weve been added to some nebulous celebrity visitation schedule. Sure weve had the dinosaurs of the music biz visiting our grand theaters for decades, but the once-rare Hollywood celebrity sightings are becoming less so, and at least for some of the A-listers, including Tenacious D, its for the love of craft that they come to town.
And now Black, who is also known for his voice-over work (Kung Fu Panda, Mars Attacks, The Simpsons), and who is a highly acclaimed actor in indie films (Bernie, High Fidelity, Be Kind Rewind) and in Hollywood features (King Kong, School of Rock, Tropic Thunder, Shallow Hal, Saving Silverman, Pick of Destiny,) will grace our shores with a concert at the House of Blues, as one half of comic rock team Tenacious D.
Why are these superstars and network producers visiting and putting Myrtle Beach, for better or worse, in the glare of the national media spotlight?
As far as Black and Gass are concerned, its for the love of rock (or perhaps mock?). Tenacious D has been touring off-and-on since May 2012 in support of the release of its third studio album, Rize of the Fenix. The title song pokes fun at the critics who claimed the D was dead after truly disappointing box office numbers from its first full-length feature, the 2006 movie The Pick of Destiny. The pair will bring its stripped-down show, Tenacious D Old School Acoustic Style, to the House of Blues on Saturday. We were fortunate to grab a few minutes on the phone with the boys and the pair connected to us via a conference call from their SoCal homes.
The comically chunky duo were as affable on the phone as their on-stage/on-screen personas might suggest they would be, mixing a bit of serious reflection with humility, and, of course, undeniable humor. For those handful of you uninitiated with the bawdy brand of adolescent funny that is Tenacious D, it might be helpful to watch the short music videos Tribute, Kickapoo, and Rize of the Fenix, all referenced in the following interview and easily accessible online. Beware, Tenacious Ds humor is NSFW (Not Suitable/Safe for Work) and as envelope-pushing as just about anything ever recorded.
Heres what they had to say about their band, Myrtle Beach, and why they tour.
Weekly Surge: Howre you doing fellas?
Jack Black: Good. How are you?
WS: Im excellent. Thanks for taking a few minutes to chat with me.
JB: Of course.
WS: Im assuming youre sitting in a publicity office somewhere on the West Coast?
JB: No. Were calling you from the comfort of our own homes. Didnt even drag ass out to the publicity office.
WS: That [conference calling] is hi-tech.
Kyle Gass: We need a publicity office.
WS: I feel somehow slighted, but Ill get over it.
JB: No, no. Its the highest compliment we could pay.
WS: My name is Paul Grimshaw. Im a music writer living in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Have you been to Myrtle Beach before?
JB: Wait are we on the air?
KG: No. This is print.
JB: OK, here goes. No, I have not been to Myrtle Beach. Kyle, have you been to Myrtle Beach?
KG: I have not been.
JB: Weve been to a lot of places in Florida, but not Myrtle.
WS: Were in South Carolina, just slightly north of Florida.
JB: OK, Im glad were not on the air. I feel badly.
WS: No, no, its quite all right. Nobody knows where we are, but we have a House of Blues here, so we get some excellent shows, including Tenacious D unplugged, acoustic, which the town is abuzz over.
JB: Wow. We did play in South Carolina once. Where were we, Kage?
KG: Charleston. Is that in South Carolina?
WS: It is - a couple hours south of us. Well, Im going to try not to gush, because Im a huge Tenacious D fan. I was doing some research, and its hard to believe that you have been together as a comedy team for more than 20 years.
JB: I know. Its true. Its weird. Let me go back in the time capsule. 1993? Were we a comedy team in 1993? We werent a name that people knew about until later.
KG: Ill go with . We were paying our dues.
JB: I think that was around the time that Kyle was avoiding me, ignoring me.
JB: We didnt kick back in til quite a bit later.
WS: Ive read that. Is it true, Kyle, that you didnt like Jack at first?
KG: Oh no, no.
JB: Are we still not on the air?
WS: No, were not on the air, I promise.
JB: We should be. So weve got a half-hour pre-interview going here?
WS: No this is it. This is the interview for our cover feature for [ Weekly Surge]. We cover the coastal Carolina region.
JB: Im so confused. I thought this was a radio program. I have not been properly debriefed. Now I got you. This is all gold. Kyle you said this is print, now I understand, its all falling into place.
WS: Lets get to the meat of this thing. In the Rize of the Fenix you say the [movie] Pick of Destiny was a bomb. And I say Who says so? I loved it. I bought the DVD, its played on Comedy Central every so often. Why do you call it a bomb?
KG: (sighs) Well Im going to have to agree with you. I think that
JB: (interrupting) OK, Ill answer the question. It didnt make any money in the box office, and they wont let us make another one. Thats usually a good sign that youve not made a hit.
WS: I dont believe they wont let you make another one.
JB: They wont let us, and not only that, they own the rights, the fucking TV rights, too, so we cant do anything.
WS: This is the proverbial they, the big evil, corporate they?
JB: It was New Line Cinema, which is now owned by Warner Bros. and they wont let us do it.
KG: Maybe weve caught up by now? If its on Comedy Central? Some [more] people might have bought the DVD?
JB: What can I tell ya, fellas? I wish it wasnt a bomb. The good news is youll be able to see us on the Interweb sometime soon, with a Tenacious D animated show.
WS: The what?
JB: The Interweb.
WS: Oh, the Interweb.
JB: We found a loophole. They dont own our Internet rights.
KG: Wow. They screwed up on that one.
JB: They werent looking ahead. (pauses). Thank you for thinking the movie was a hit, and Im glad that Kyle thinks it was a hit, too.
KG: I cant be caught up in these commercial
WS: No. And I understand the economics of the movie needing to make more money than it cost. I get that. But [the movie video] Kickapoo has 30 million views on YouTube.
JB: I dont They made another Lawnmower Man. And that couldnt have made more than $6 bucks. Why couldnt there be another Tenacious D in whatever?
WS: Jack, I read that you actually blamed stoners for being too stoned to actually go out and see the movie in the theater. Do you subscribe to that?
JB: Yeah. Thats why were changing our whole thing. Now we only play to meth-heads. They will actually go out and watch a movie.
WS: I think theyre much less likely to show up, even, than stoners.
KG: I want to comment on the Kickapoo video, thats getting so many hits. I dont know if people realize Im not in it! I appreciate all the re-watching of it.
WS: No, but youre the genius behind the guitar. You were the youngest guitar student to graduate from Julliard.
KG: Thats what they say. Until some crack, cub reporter discovered that there was never a guitar program at Julliard [when I was a child].
KG: Im the Manti Teo of the comedy rock set, I think.
WS: Im not sure if this means anything, but I Googled Rize of the Fenix, and the University of Phoenix came up higher on the page, which was a little disappointing.
JB: They dont even spell it right.
WS: I know. I cant understand how that happens?
JB: A lot of people stole our magic thunder.
WS: Speaking of Rize of the Fenix, thats a very creative spelling, with the Z, I find that the Z seems to be a very important letter in rock n roll.
JB: Its more powerful and if you didnt know how to spell, thats how youd spell it.
KG: Yeah, you would.
JB: The S seems really weak, and snake-y. We wanted to rise with magical, dark force power. Thats when you bring up the Z.
WS: True, true. [Rize of the Fenix] is a rockin tune. I love the bridge and the chorus where it sort of switches into an almost like a rockin pop song, bubble gum, almost.
JB: That part youre talking about, when it goes into the hook, (starts singing) Rize of the Fenix, (starts scatting guitar riffs) and we ride with the pack! That was actually our producer, our co-writer John Kimbrough [who added that].
WS: That is so something a producer would do.
KG: Right down the bubble gum hole.
JB: Our specialty is not that.
KG: No. Were not hookmeisters, really.
WS: I dont know. You guys are great songwriters.
JB: I think it was a great collaboration, and took our sound to new heights.
WS: I hope this isnt a stupid question, but do you share an affinity with Spinal Tap? Is the D an evolution of Tap, or are they just a bunch of has-been hacks?
JB: Oh dude, I would never say that about the Tap.
JB: Theyre the fuckin original maestros of comedy rock. Although thats not entirely true. The Rutles might be first. (All You Need is Cash - The Rutles is a 1978 made-for TV mockumentary film, and later an actual recording and touring act based on a fictitious Beatles-like group).
WS: Oh, thats right. I remember - the Monty Python gang. Well the Tap is classic, but when you guys came out on HBO  years ago, I thought, this is fantastic. Ive really been a fan for that long.
JB: Thank you, man.
KG: Thank you.
JB: The difference between us and the Tap, is that the Tap is making fun of the genre, heavy metal. Theyre making fun of all the genres with that movie [This is Spinal Tap,] really, because it spans all of rock n roll history.
JB: Were not making fun of rock. We fuckin love to rock. Its just that we mix in comedy. Not comedy about rock as much as oh shit I dont know.
WS: Its obvious that you guys love to rock, which brings me to another point. I would think that in this place in your careers, that its not necessary for you guys to slog all around the U.S. and come to places like Myrtle Beach to do a show, you must
JB:(interrupts) Wait a second I cant leave it like that what Im saying is, The Tap are the best, and theyre the parody kings, not like Weird Al, but the D is just trying to be a really great rock band, which is absurd because we dont fit that mold, and were pretty dumb. I guess thats not great. Shit, I dont know.
JB: Can we get back to the Myrtle Beach question? (everybody laughs)
KG: We dont have to be slogging around the country playing gigs in crazy places like Myrtle Beach, but we do, because we love it. I love playing live.
JB: Kyle, are you doing that crazy thing where you hold the speakerphone up to your lips?
KG: Ahh...is there any way you can tell for sure thats what Im doing?
JB: I can tell.
KG: Damn it!
WS: Well, I have time for just one more question. What is the greatest song in the world?
JB: We forgot.
WS: Could it be that (Tenacious Ds) Tribute is the greatest song in the world?
JB: (sighs) I dont know. I think the greatest song in the world is always changing.
JB: Right now the greatest song in the world is
KG: Gangnam Style?
JB: No (laughs)
KG: Carley Rae Jepsen, Call Me Maybe?
JB: You gotta get out of the Top 40, Kage. The greatest song in the world ?
WS: I like Its always changing. Good answer.
JB: Yeah, sorry...thats it.
WS: It was a real pleasure speaking with you guys today. Thanks for your time.
KG: Thank you, ma brother.
JB: See you at the beach.