Interview: Kyle Gass of Trainwreck

Categories: interview
Trainwreck.jpg
If you like your Southern rock served with a side of perverted comedy, mullet wigs and unbridled manliness, Trainwreck just might be the band you've been waiting for. Formed by funny man guitarist Kyle Gass, known best for his work with Jack Black in Tenacious D, Trainwreck is a hellified hillbilly project eight years in the making. Commonly referred to as the Wreck, the band also includes the members of the Tenacious D band.

Though each member has their own alter-ego (complete with long, convoluted back stories) you'd be hard pressed to find a rock star ego among them. It's all about the grind with these guys. Of course, they always find time off stage to relax--evidenced by the photo above. Read more about Gass' idea of a self-fulfilling prophecy and being a bro after the jump.
OC Weekly: Most bands would generally avoid the phrase "train wreck," when it comes to their music. Yet you guys barrel right towards it. Do you think it describes your sound?
Kyle Gass: I think it might've put the jinx on it. I figured it was a train wreck of genres and sounds. Remember that band Failure? There was a band called Failure. I remember thinking you can't call yourselves that. Then I go and name my band Trainwreck. Go figure.

In the band, you go by the name Klip Calhoun. What made the band decide to choose alter-egos?
I think I wanted to differentiate from Tenacious D and get as far away from that as I could.      I thought it would be fun to wear costumes and wigs, thereby liberating us from any constraints of being ourselves. I think it's worked. Plus it was designed for my buddy J.R. [Reed] (a.k.a. Darryl Lee Donald), our singer. I think he feels a little more comfortable in his character. I was thinking the audience would enjoy it. 

Are you guys working on any current projects since your latest record The Wreckoning?
It took us eight years to come out with that [record]. So now, we're gonna go right in and record another one I think. We're gonna call it Trainwreck Leftovers.  I actually just wrote a couple new ones, "Push It Up Brown" and "Ram Damn Bunctious." I think we're gonna record another album in June, then I think I wanna go to Europe. Will we fly there? I dunno.

You guys have toured Europe before. What countries over there really seem to embrace the Wreck?
 We just had a chance to do a gig or two in U.K. and that went really well. And Australia really liked us. But I'd say any English-speaking country is okay. And I think the farther we get away from L.A., the more people like us. I don't know what it is about L.A., but they turn their backs on their hometown people.

One of your most popular songs so far seems to be "Tim Blankenship." Tell us, who is Tim Blankenship and how does he feel now that you've written a song about him?
[Laughs] He was made up. I don't know why, he just reminded me of dudes I went to high school with. The idea was that he was the cool guy in high school with the fast car. He was kinda that guy. I also thought Blankenship was a funny name. But since there, we've run into a few Tim Blankenships. So we just have to say that the song was written for them. 

You guys are playing Di Piazza's on Saturday. But it's not the first time right?
We played down there I think a few months ago. It's a great vibe, it's all ages and people go there just for fun anyway. And it kinda reminds me of that a scene in That Thing You Do. When the band plays at an Italian restaurant, just kinda starting out. But yeah, Di Piazza's is good times.

You and most of your band members also play together in Tenacious D. Between both bands, how do you guys manage to keep from getting sick of each other?
We try not to rehearse too much. And if we didn't enjoy doing it, I don't think we'd do it. Trainwreck kinda of developed because Tenacious D didn't have a chance to tour that much. Jack [Black] was doin' movies all the time. So it really developed for touring and playing live and stuff. And we enjoy doing it. Sometimes the tour is a little bit of a grind. But we enjoy doing it. But now it's basically the same band since we use the guys for both [bands].

Will there ever be a Trainwreck/Tenacious D co-headlining tour?
It could happen. But I'd have to work too hard. I think we did it one time. I think it was one of our first gigs. But it hasn't happened since.

What's your favorite part about being in Trainwreck?
I think it's the bros really. It's just a bunch of dudes that have all become really good friends. I think it's that shared goal of wanting to take it to the next level. I think I was little spoiled early on with Tenacious D because we got popular pretty fast. And I felt every band I start now is just gonna blow up. So it's been a nice slice of reality. You really gotta work at it I think. But it's fun playing music, it's fun being in a band, coming up with funny ideas. And it's a great D.I.Y. experience I guess.
 
Trainwreck performs with the Sweet Repose, Ape Tit and Choke Survivor at Di Piazza's, Sat. May 15. 5205 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Long Beach. (562) 498-2461.

 
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