McGInnis: Trainwreck to hit Toledo and BGWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
For Kyle Gass, the road to being a rock star was, in some ways, also the path of least resistance.
Growing up in California, he was a fan of many of the biggest names in popular music — not only the British rock icons like the Beatles, Stones, The Who and Zeppelin, but classic American acts like Crosby, Stills and Nash. But when he started playing himself, he realized that the kind of music he loved was also the kind that came easiest to him.
“I noticed that it wasn’t THAT hard to play rock. I started playing classical and jazz, and never really excelled. But, I always enjoyed listening to rock and pop. So, I started playing those, and it was easier, and more fun.”
For nearly two decades, Gass has been having fun on stage, performing with an eye on capturing both the hard rock edge of the bands he loved and the humor of a natural comedian. He is best known for his work with childhood friend Jack Black in rock comedy group Tenacious D.
Gass is currently on tour with his own group, Trainwreck, which is “in the Tenacious D family,” as three of its members play in both groups. The band will appear at Frankie’s on September 23, and at Howard’s Club H in Bowling Green on September 24.
The foundation for Trainwreck, Gass said in an interview, began over 13 years ago.
“Even playing in Tenacious D, I always wanted to incorporate music and comedy. Tenacious D did really well pretty quickly. And I always liked gigging live a lot, and just felt like I had the time. Jack was starting to do a lot more movies, and I had some more time on my hands, and I thought it’d be fun to start another enterprise.”
With a new enterprise came new personas — each member of the band has developed Trainwreck alter ego to play in concert, though Gass (who plays “Klip Calhoun”) downplays how seriously even the members of the group take these alternate roles.
“Jason Reed, who plays Darryl Lee Donald, I wanted him to be kind of a lead guy, singer, very entertaining fellow. And I thought it would be just kinda more freeing and liberating if you could sort of do it all in your character. And D was doing so well, that I just wanted to kinda break away from that a little bit. So, I thought going with characters would help with that.
“The character is pretty thin. It’s not like we’re trying to be like Andy Kaufman or something,” Gass said. “At the end of the day, it’s just us playing these cartoon characters. It’s mostly music, and we have some fun with the banter, but it’s pretty easygoing. It feels more like us than like we were in character. The music’s kinda the main thing.”
What kind of music Trainwreck performs has evolved over time, however. The sound of the band has grown as the group matured, Gass said.
“It’s evolved quite a bit. I wanted it to be really good, musically. And I think it’s evolved from that. It started as a duo, but that was just for one gig. And then we added drums, kinda copping the minimalist, White Stripes vibe, just guitar and drums. But when we added electric guitar and base, then it really just became more of a traditional band thing, which I like.
“We added keyboards for a while, but I felt that really wasn’t the right vibe. It needed to be kinda more hillbilly guitar, classic rock.”
That sound has been captured on three different album releases so far — one live recording and two studio albums, the most recent of which, “The Wreckoning,” was released last year. Gass himself thought of one of the most unique collectables that will be available to Trainwreck’s fans in Toledo and BG.
“This tour, I thought, ‘You know, it’d be fun to put it out on vinyl.’ So, we ordered a limited run of vinyl and are selling that on tour.”
And really, the tour is what it’s all about for Trainwreck. Gass said that there’s no greater feeling for a musician than being in front of a great crowd.
“It’s kinda the whole reason to do it. Honestly, that’s like everything. You’re performing so you can, like, have a connection with the audience. And when it’s really packed and everything is going well, and everyone is having a good time, it’s a real high.”
E-mail Jeff at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com.