Music Article

Building The Perfect Probot

What mad genius is behind the all-star thrash-metal creation called Probot? Dave Grohl, of course!

Dave Grohl has just one order to bark at the superwicked heavy metal monster called Probot: ''Go fucking cook up the metal!'' Probot, apparently, is one hell of a chef. The creature is also the thrash leviathan side project that was born in the Virginia basement of the ex-Nirvana and onetime Queens of the Stone Age drummer, Foo Fighters frontman, and producer of the forthcoming Rye Coalition follow-up. Just about four years ago, Grohl, 35, laid down Probot's initial megaheavy instrumental tracks (bass, guitars, drums), all reminiscent of tough-ass '80s bands like Sepultura and Motorhead that -- along with generous hits of acid -- helped (de)form his teen rock mind.

Laying those tracks led to the mother of all flashbacks: Why not get some of his heroes -- Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmister, Sepultura's Max Cavalera, Saint Vitus' Scott ''Wino'' Weinrich, Mercyful Fate's King Diamond, Venom's Cronos (all in all 11 of the hardest singers ever) -- to become the satanic voices for his creation? Several FedExed tapes later, plus more guest appearances by the likes of Zwan guitarist and longtime pal Matt Sweeney and former Soundgarden axman Kim Thayil, and ''Probot'' the album was born. The CD (due Feb. 10 on Southern Lord) is naturally accompanied by a supernasty video: ''Shake Your Blood'' stars Grohl, Kilmister, Weinrich, and 70-odd barely clothed, tattooed, and pierced babes from the rocker-chick nudie site SuicideGirls. Nothing wrong with that! Here, Probot's mad scientist celebrates his creation with Listen2This.

L2T You said you didn't want this record to be billed as ''Dave Grohl's fucking metal band'' record -- which is why you're not releasing it on RCA along with your Foo Fighters albums, but on the indie Southern Lord label. But hasn't it essentially become Dave Grohl's fucking metal-band record?

DG Kind of, yeah. [In his best radio announcer voice] ''Not only does this guy do this and this and this and this and this, but, hey, he's got a heavy metal side project as well!'' The whole thing started [in 2000] as an experiment in my basement. It was never supposed to be an album. And as I was writing a lot of these riffs, I didn't even call them songs because they were bare instrumentals with no intention of putting vocals on them and no direction as an actual song. Then after recording seven or eight of the instrumentals, not knowing what to do with them and deciding, fantasizing about my favorite vocalists singing over them, it started to come together and happen. And three years later the album was pretty much finished, and I had to seriously consider what to do as far as releasing.

L2T Can we talk about Probot in the abstract, Probot as a thing?

DG Yeah.

L2T I know what the obscure ''Empire Strikes Back'' character Probot is, but yours seems to be some sort of freaky anime thing that can tear down cities and rape and pillage...

DG You know, that's funny. I was in Las Vegas about a month ago, and I was walking through one of these memorabilia stores that has signed movie posters and knickknacks and collectible crap. I walked past this one display that had a lot of antique toys in it, and in the display there was an original toy from ''Empire Strikes Back''.... It was a ''gun turret and Probot.'' And I lost my mind! I had no idea that it was anything at all. I never knew what it was. I thought I made up the word. And the only reason why I'm calling the record that is because when I recorded the first seven songs I wrote the word ''Probot'' on the spine of the reel in my basement so that it wouldn't get lost among all my other Foo Fighter tapes.

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