Building The Perfect Probot

Entertainment Weekly

Snake, Dave Grohl & Eric Wagner

Sex, Drugs & Dave Grohl!

Dave Grohl has just one order to bark at the superwicked heavy meal monster called Probot "Go cook up the fucking 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 Queen of the Stone Age drummer, Foo Fighters frontman and producer of the forthcoming Rye Coalition follow-up. Just about 4 years ago, Grohl laid down Probot's initial megaheavy instrumental tracks, 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.

Wino, Nick Raskulinecz & Greg Anderson

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?
Kind of, yeah. [In his best radio annoucer 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.
Can we talk about Probot in the abstract, Probot as a thing?
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...
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 knick-knacks 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.
Has George Lucas come calling with a cease-and-desist notice?
No, I haven't heard from any lawyers yet. That usually happens after the album comes out and it proves far too difficult to do anything about it. So, you know, what are you gonna do? He's gonna have thousands of angry metalheads on his hands.
So Probot could take him?
Possibly. Probot's not some robotic, mechanical, lifeless, brainless machine. It's a thriving, pulsing wave of metalheads in their 30s.
Then it also has its sensitive side, too, protecting its metal and such.
Absolutely. Yeah.
What's the basic ingredient that goes into forming Probot? Booze?
Well, um, Probot's heart pumps like a beer bong, for sure. It's definitely alive and coursing with Coors Light. And it breathes not fire but smoke. Parliament Lights - in a box.
What are some of the other parts of Probot? We don't have to go through everyone on the album. Just what they would be to the creature - like Lemmy?
Lemmy would definitely be the heart of the creature.
Okay. So he's right there, sipping off the beer bong.
Pretty much. Although rather than dumping beer into that beer bong, I'm sure he'd be guzzling Jack Daniels and Coke. That's his poison.
How about Cronos?
Cronos would be the mind, the brain. Everything that Cronos represents can be applied to each and every piece of the Probot. Which basically is sin. That's all the guy really has. That's his whole trip.
How about Wino?
Wino would be the courage. Wino would be the armor. Wino is the foundation of integrity.
Then what would you be?
I would be the puppeteer above the whole thing, making it work.
And hows it working
It's working out great.
Could anyone at home assemble their own sort of Probot thing?
Well, Santana's tried...
That's true. Though I imagine Wino must come cheaper than Michelle Branch.
Yeah. These guys were a lot easier to work with than most people I'd imagine would be. The whole thing was so simple it was amazing. I wish everyone could do their own Probot record. "Hey, this here's some music I've loved my whole life. And I'm going to call up all the kings of that genre and FedEx 'em my tapes-they'll put something on it and send it back."
Do you have your own FedEx number?
I do, actually.
Was that a pretty important part of the whole thing?
This album was made by FedEx. Fuck me. Fuck whoever is recording or producing it. How 'bout Federal Express...? FedEx kicks ass!
At what point do you bring in the Suicide Girls?
When you need anything visual. At one point on tour someone outside of a show in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh gave me a SuicideGirls sticker. I'd heard of the site, but I'd never seen it. And I put it on my guitar. At the time we were trying to come up with an idea for the Probot video. And they graciously supplied us with 70 of the hottest fucking rocker girls I've ever seen in my life.
Did Probot hook up with any of them?
I don't know if Probot did. Hopefully someone got lucky. I didn't. That was the first time I played the drums in a year. And I limped home. It hurt.
Once the Probot is up and running, how do you care for it?
Well, I haven't done drugs since I was 20. That's the one least metal thing about me. [Sarcastic stoner voice] "Hey man, you should get high on music." What keeps it running? I suppose just beer and Crown Royal. Probably Crown Royal. The beer is what makes the hydraulics happen, but the Crown Royal is kinda like the oil that keeps everything loose.
Does it require conjugal visits?
Well, maybe I should do a female Probot record. With, like, Doro and Lita Ford.
Not a bad idea.
Yeah, so it could have a mate-like the bride of Frankenstein.
What's the estimated cost of making this Probot including FedEx?
Hundred grand.
Wow, that's not bad.
Fuck no. Cheap as shit.
Who are Probot's friends?
Um, let's see. Anyone from the cast of Lord of the Rings. The Rainbow Bar in Los Angeles on the Sunset Strip would be its hangout. And when the Probot is lonely he comes home and turns on a little soft porn.
Have you heard the new Courtney Love record [America's Sweetheart, due Feb. 10], by any chance?
I've heard "Mono" [the first single], and you know what? It's really good. More power to her, man. I'm telling you, that's what she should be doing. Fucking making music.
Does Probot have an off switch?
The wife. When I come home at night, the wife tUqtS the Probot off. We get to be happily in love. Watch Nick and Jessica [on MTV] and hit the sack.
Are you sick of talking about Probot yet?
I'm getting close.

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