“Chicks dig drummers,” says Dave Grohl. Which may be partly why the man is always looking for another excuse to step back behind the drum kit, from his brief but memorable stint in 2002 with Queens of the Stone Age to the debut this month of his long-awaited metal project, Probot.
The impending February 10th release of Probot’s self-titled debut album was enough to deliver Grohl to headbanger paradise recently on a Hollywood soundstage, where he was shooting the band’s first video, sitting in with Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister and seventy models from SuicideGirls.com. The song was “Shake Your Blood,” a dead-ringer for Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades.” Grohl pounded the drums on a rotating stage as Lemmy serenaded a crowd of dancing rock chicks in goth, punk and bondage wear with the words, “I love to see the women bathe/I ain’t in denial.”
Later, Lemmy recognized the scene as “just like a tour in the Sixties, when things were a lot more fun.”
Grohl says, “We’re dealing with Lemmy here. There’s got to be women dancing in the video. I’ve never done something like that, and it just wouldn’t work with ‘Learn to Fly.’ It’s the kind of thing you would reserve for something special.”
On guitar was underground metal vet Wino (St. Vitus, the Obsessed), one of many hard rock heroes recruited by Grohl for the album, which began as a series of brutal basement recordings made between Foo Fighters tours. The collaborations were quick and easy.
“I wrote the lyrics in about ten minutes,” Lemmy says of “Shake Your Blood.” “It’s rock & roll, you know. It’s not one of those complicated things.”
Which at least allowed Grohl to feel like a drummer again. “I’d rather be playing drums in that room with seventy Suicide Girls than standing around with a guitar around my neck,” he says.
The Probot project began three and a half years ago as an escape from his Foo Fighters duties performing “Learn to Fly” and other radio hits every night. It was an excuse to rock hard, tapping into his early days obsessively listening to hardcore and underground metal, the kind of music he says he still listens to before going on stage with the Foo Fighters: Corrosion of Conformity, Sepultura, etc.
Grohl initially recorded seven instrumentals with no intention of releasing them or even singing on the tracks. But he slowly farmed out his basic tracks to several metal heroes, who added vocals to the ragged riffs. “I came up with my wish list of all of my favorite singers from this era,” he says, “which is ’82 to ’89 underground metal, and all the bands I listened to at the time: Eric Wagner from Trouble and Snake from Voivod and Cronos [from Venom] and Lemmy and Wino. We started making phone calls trying to find all these people.”
Grohl played virtually all the instruments himself, though Lemmy and Cronos play bass on their tracks, Wino adds explosive guitar to “The Emeerald Law,” and Kim Thayil of Soundgarden plays guitar on two songs.
And even though Grohl has made the rare transition from drummer to successful frontman, he knows where he belongs. “I’m a drummer,” he says. “I taught myself how to play the guitar, I taught myself how to play the drums, and I kind of fake doing both of them. But drumming comes more natural to me, and it just feels better.”