John Konesky Talks Tenacious D and Other Projects

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As a massive fan of comedy music (as well as a performer myself) and a keen guitarist, you can imagine how happy I was when John “Kones” Konesky, legendary electric guitarist for probably the best-known comedy band in the world Tenacious D, agreed to answer a few questions for me. A super-talented shredder on both electric and acoustic guitar, Konesky has performed with Jack Black and Kyle Gass since 2005 when the band started recording their second album The Pick of Destiny, which also acted as the soundtrack for the film of the same name starring the duo. He has performed with KG in Trainwreck and is also a part of his new project, tentatively labelled The Kyle Gass Band. The two also star in their own internet video series called Guitarings, in which they teach viewers how to play Tenacious D hits correctly, interspersed of course with hilarious banter and added features.

So John, how has this year been for you so far?

Creatively it’s been pretty fun. I’ve been involved in a lot of really cool projects that have been really satisfying. As a guitar player, it’s been a blast playing on the new [Tenacious] D album, but I’ve also had a great time as a writer – writing music for my new band, scoring a sci-fi movie, writing tunes for KG’s new band, and co-developing a TV series based around an 80s film composer with some of my closest and most respected friends. Playing guitar is always super fun, but this was the first year I really got to stretch my legs as a songwriter.

Obviously you are best known for your work with Jack [Black] and Kyle [Gass]. What’s it like recording and performing with Tenacious D?

It’s exactly how you might imagine it. Jack and Kyle, for the most part, are not far off from how you’ve seen them on TV and in movies – goofy and hilarious. They’re also very serious about what they’ve created with Tenacious D and like things done in a certain way, which is exactly how it should be otherwise it wouldn’t be as great as it is. So to answer your question, it’s super fun. It’s by far the best job you could ever ask for.

So how’s the new album sounding, and when can we expect to hear it?

The new album sounds great, and there are a lot of laughs. You will likely hear it in spring 2012. It’s tracked, but it needs now to be mixed, mastered and set up for distribution, which can take around six months. The hardest part is finished, though.

How did you originally become involved with the D?

I met KG while I was still living in Columbus, Ohio. We hit it off as mutual appreciators of guitars, nerdy jazz stuff and chord melodies. At the time I met Kyle, he was forming Trainwreck and he needed some players for it. John Spiker [bassist]and I picked up the gig, and we had already planned on moving out west so the timing worked out. After playing with Trainwreck for about four years, the D came around again with the Pick of Destiny album and movie, and we had gotten to know everyone well enough that we were the first choices to play on it. That’s the short version.

How are your other projects going, particularly the Kyle Gass Band?

Great. I like the tunes, and it’s a great group of guys. It’s been really fun. I like the music so much more than Trainwreck, so that part of it is really satisfying. We still have a way to go on making the record, and even making a name for the band, but it’s been really fun.

How did the idea of Guitarings come about?

Guitarings came out of Kyle and I noticing people on YouTube teaching Tenacious D songs, sometimes wrongly, but getting a million views. We thought to ourselves, we could do that, but let’s expand the concept to include interviews, product reviews and visits to cool shops, etc. Kind of a one-stop shop for everything guitar. We shot a few pilot episodes and we just didn’t like the way they looked or felt, so I hooked up with the guys at Fret12 and pitched them the idea, and they loved it. So without their help it may have been dead in the water, but now we couldn’t be more excited about how it’s shaping up!

So what else can we expect from you in the future?

Hopefully more of the same, but on a much bigger level. I have a number of projects I’m involved in right now, and I think every one of them has a good chance of doing something. Most of what I do right now is developmental, so really only a couple of things ‘pay the bills’ so to speak, so I’m really still in the same place most artists are in Los Angeles, which is trying a bunch of stuff until something sticks. I have a lot of faith in my work right now, and I’m positive there will be a lot more to come. I think the first thing to look out for, after the D record, will be a lot more with Guitarings, including an instructional DVD and more. But in addition to that, there’s a few things that I’m not really able to talk about in detail just yet that may just end up being huge. It’s anyone’s guess what’s next. It just depends on what people respond to the most.

You can keep up with John Konesky’s work on his official website, and you can check out the Guitarings channel on YouTube here.

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