Probot was a heavy metal side project of ex-Nirvana drummer and Foo
Fighters rhythm guitarist and lead-singer Dave Grohl. Described by
Grohl as "a death metal Supernatural," the album mixes instrumentals
recorded by Grohl himself with various metal singers whom the musician
admired. The album was released in February 2004 by Southern Lord
Records. It featured one single entitled "Centuries of Sin"/"The
2 Production and style
5 "Shake Your Blood"
6 Live performances
7 Track listing
11 External links
After years of popularity in the alternative rock scene, Dave Grohl
wanted to express the passion for heavy metal he bore since his youth.
He mentioned the catalyst of the experience being during the first leg
of the tour in support of the
Foo Fighters album There Is Nothing Left
to Lose, with the mellower songs making him think about the heavier
bands he used to listen to. Following the tour, Grohl went to his
house in Alexandria, Virginia, to record some heavier songs in his
home studio Studio 606 with Adam Kasper. Grohl would play with his
Gibson Explorer as he watched TV with Kasper, and once he got a riff
that interested him, he would bring Kasper along to the basement,
recording a drum arrangement followed by bass and guitar. Each
instrumental would take about 45 minutes to complete. Grohl said that
he did not intend to make an album out of the recordings - "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." After four days of recording, Grohl and Kasper had done
seven tracks, with Grohl making some copies out of the master tape
before labeling it
Probot to distinguish from the Foo Fighters'
Dave Grohl played the majority of instruments on the album, including
all of the drum tracks.
Some time later, inspired by the Santana album Supernatural, Grohl
decided to attempt collaborations with singers he had idolized. He
came up with "my wish list of all of my favorite singers from this era
which is '82 to '89 underground metal, and all the bands I listened to
at the time:
Eric Wagner from Trouble, Snake from Voivod, Cronos [from
Lemmy and Wino," and started contacting the musicians, some
of whom were reached by Grohl's friend
Matt Sweeney given the Foo
Fighters had restarted their tour. Grohl feared his fame built out
of being "a stupid, middle-of-the-road, alternative-rock idiot" could
drive the metal singers away, but many agreed immediately. Cronos
would later explain that "I'm open for everything. And Dave's cool,"
detailing that Grohl's email opened with "a real fan letter" where he
mentioned his longtime appreciation of Venom, and then explained about
his idea of a metal album with all his metal heroes "to get something
off his chest."
Seeing the positive response, Grohl brought Kasper and Sweeney back to
do five more instrumental tracks and round out the project.
According to Grohl, the songs sent to
Eric Wagner and
King Diamond had
been previously done for
Ozzy Osbourne as he was contacted to write
for the then-upcoming Down to Earth, but when Osbourne's label did not
respond, he repurposed them for Probot. Sweeney would organize the
project as Grohl toured with the Foo Fighters, getting vocalists on
board and organizing tracks. Then the demo tapes were sent to the
singers, each of whom was asked to come up with lyrics, record them
and then title the song. Cronos detailed he wrote three different
versions so Grohl could choose one.
Production and style
From top to bottom:
Kim Thayil and
Matt Sweeney played additional
guitar parts on the album. Cronos and
Lemmy played bass guitar on the
songs they sang, while Wino and
Jack Black played guitar on the tracks
on which they sang.
On the album, Grohl teamed up with heavy metal vocalists from 1980s
and 1990s bands who influenced his musical tastes while he was growing
up. Similar to 1995's Foo Fighters, Grohl wrote all of the music and
performed most of the instrumentation. Each track on the album
features a different lead singer including Lemmy, Max Cavalera, King
Diamond and Tom Warrior. Grohl described the sequencing as "like a
compilation tape that I would have made as a kid."
Lemmy and Wino visited Studio 606 to record, with all the others
sending tapes from studio to studio until the album was finished.
Kim Thayil plays additional guitar on two tracks
thanks to Kasper, who had brought the
Probot tapes to Seattle and they
attracted Thayil's interest. Grohl was pleased with the addition as
Thayil had more experience with lead guitars, while Grohl was "more
about the riff and the rhythm". A bonus track titled "I Am The
Warlock" was provided by comedian/actor/musician Jack Black. According
to Black, who described the song as "a homage to 'Iron Man.'" after
Grohl approached him regarding writing lyrics, his spouse Tanya Haden
suggested "it should be about a fucked up relationship," so Black made
it about a warlock.
Grohl also approached death metal legend
Chuck Schuldiner of Death to
contribute to Probot. However, Schldiner was struggling with brain
cancer and was unable to be involved despite the efforts of Grohl and
others to raise funds for his medical treatment. Grohl also
attempted to get Slayer's lead singer
Tom Araya on the album, but he
was unable due to scheduling conflicts. To replace him, Grohl
Kurt Brecht from D.R.I. Grohl mentioned he and Sweeney had
discussed and considered a lot of different singers, including the
retired Jeff Becerra of Possessed, Chuck Billy from Testament,
Pantera's Phil Anselmo, and the vocalists from Kreator, Destruction,
Hirax and Candlemass. Sweeney vetoed Unleashed's Johnny Hedlund,
who at the time was rumored to be a Nazi sympathizer.
In a 2007 interview for
Guitar World magazine, Grohl was asked about
the future of Probot. He explained that the idea behind
Probot was to
choose his favorite vocalists that inspired him when he was a
teenager. Grohl said that he does not think that he will do it again,
because he does not want to go outside of that idea.
Despite Grohl's label Roswell having a deal with RCA Records, he knew
such an unorthodox project featuring cult musicians of the past would
not be easily accepted by major labels. RCA was interested at first,
but later Grohl decided to follow the spirit of the original bands "on
independent, punk-rock do it yourself labels." So Grohl's friend
Pete Stahl, with whom he had played in Scream and was then in the band
Goatsnake, suggested the label of his bandmate Greg Anderson, the
smaller metal-based Southern Lord Records.
The album is available as a single CD and a double LP (available on
red and black vinyl). Southern Lord released a double A-sided single,
"Centuries of Sin/The Emerald Law" in a limited edition of 6,666 on 7"
vinyl only. It is available on black, green, red & red/black swirl
vinyl, and sold out shortly after release. The album artwork was
created by musician Away (Michel Langevin) of Voivod.
Critical reception to the
Probot album was largely positive with few
Metacritic shows a 72/100 critic rating based on
Rolling Stone declared it as "the year's first great metal
album," while Blender reported, "Unlike similar records... this has a
unity of aesthetic purpose, a competitive wallop, even (kind of) a
David Browne of
Entertainment Weekly gave
Probot a B− rating. He
notes, "For a lark, it aims for (and hits) a few bull's-eyes,
including the whiplashing 'The Emerald Law' and the post-apocalyptic
death march 'Ice Cold Man'." However, Browne comments how the mystery
and thrill of vintage metal bands is "largely gone" with many lyrics
Probot sounding "more amusing than menacing" and even
"unintentionally funny." He sums it up as "lying somewhere between
homage and howler."
Probot earned an A rating in Stylus magazine as well as the title of
Album of the Week for February 8–14, 2004.
Scott McKeating's extensive review describes how "
Probot balances the
grit with the sonic polish without lapsing into Metallica's Metallica.
This is metal that demands banging, shaking and stamping." He commends
the ambition of its overall conception, noting, "Very few [artists] go
as far as Grohl and actually create something vital and new in their
mid-thirties from their teenage obsessions. . .
Probot is an
inspirational record in every sense."
Adrien Begrand of
PopMatters describes it as "One of the coolest ideas
for an album in a long time, Grohl has put together a record that not
only serves as a sincere tribute to the metal and hardcore bands of
his youth, but features all his favorite vocalists as well." He gave a
favorable review but heavily discussed Grohl's guitar skills and
songwriting as lacking: "The biggest problem on the album is Grohl's
complete lack of inventiveness as a guitar player. . . Had Dave Grohl
used more guest musicians instead of trying to do everything himself,
Probot would have been much better." Despite these criticisms, Begrand
considers it "impossible not to like this album, mistakes and all."
Awarding a 4/5 rating, Allmusic's Alex Henderson emphasizes the wide
variety of genres featured on
Probot and adds, "Whatever the style of
metal that he is embracing, Grohl's drumming is passionate throughout
this fine album, which is as rewarding as it is unpredictable."
"Shake Your Blood"
Although Grohl recorded the guitar and drums himself,
his own bass and wrote the lyrics to "Shake Your Blood". He noted, "I
wrote the lyrics in about ten minutes. . . It's rock & roll, you
know. It's not one of those complicated things." The song bears
strong resemblance to Lemmy's style and was considered "a terrific
Motörhead clone" by Adrien Begrand of PopMatters.
The "Shake Your Blood" music video was filmed in November 2003 and
released shortly thereafter. It features an appearance by 66 women
SuicideGirls adult entertainment website. The music video
also appears on the extras section on the movie SuicideGirls: The
First Tour. In the video, the band is represented with
Dave Grohl on
Lemmy on lead vocals and bass, and Wino (who sang on the Probot
track "The Emerald Law") on lead guitar.
Lemmy regarded the
performance as "just like a tour in the '60s, when things were a lot
Foo Fighters performed "Shake Your Blood" live with
Lemmy at their
2006 Hyde Park (UK) show, and in June 18, 2011 at
Foo Fighters concert
in Berlin. "My Tortured Soul" was performed live on Headbangers' Ball
in 2004, with
Eric Wagner on lead vocals, Grohl on drums, Wino on lead
guitar, Greg Anderson (of
Goatsnake and Sunn O)))) on rhythm guitar,
Foo Fighters producer
Nick Raskulinecz on bass guitar. This
performance is available on the compilation album MTV2 Headbangers
Ball, Vol. 2.
Soulfly has also been known to play "Red War" live as
recently as 2009. "Ice Cold Man" has also been played by Cathedral
on their 2004 tour. "Centuries of Sin" has also been played by Venom
on their 2009 tour in South America.
"Centuries of Sin" (feat. Cronos of Venom)
"Red War" (feat.
Max Cavalera of
Sepultura and Soulfly)
"Shake Your Blood" (feat.
Lemmy of Motörhead)
"Access Babylon" (feat. Mike Dean of Corrosion of Conformity)
"Silent Spring" (feat.
Kurt Brecht of Dirty Rotten Imbeciles)
"Ice Cold Man" (feat.
Lee Dorrian of Cathedral and Napalm Death, and
Kim Thayil of Soundgarden)
"The Emerald Law" (feat. Wino of Saint Vitus and The Obsessed)
"Big Sky" (feat.
Tom G. Warrior
Tom G. Warrior of Celtic Frost)
"Dictatosaurus" (feat. Snake of Voivod)
"My Tortured Soul" (feat.
Eric Wagner of Trouble)
"Sweet Dreams" (feat.
King Diamond of
King Diamond and Mercyful Fate,
Kim Thayil of Soundgarden; the song "Sweet Dreams" ends at minute
5:26. After minutes and 30 seconds of silence, at minute 8:56 begins
the hidden song "I Am the Warlock", featuring
Jack Black of Tenacious
Australian Albums Chart
Belgian Albums Chart (VL)
Dutch Albums Chart
Finnish Albums Chart
New Zealand Albums Chart
Norwegian Albums Chart
UK Albums Chart
US Billboard 200
The singers featured on
Probot are, from top to bottom: Cronos, Max
Cavalera, Lemmy, Mike Dean, Kurt Bretch, Lee Dorrian, Wino, Tom G.
Warrior, Snake, Eric Wagner, King Diamond, and Jack Black.
Dave Grohl - lead guitar, drums, bass, lead vocals
Kim Thayil - additional guitar (tracks 6, 11)
Cronos - lead vocals, bass (track 1)
Max Cavalera - lead vocals (track 2)
Lemmy - lead vocals, bass (track 3)
Mike Dean - lead vocals (track 4)
Kurt Brecht - lead vocals (track 5)
Lee Dorrian - lead vocals (track 6)
Scott "Wino" Weinrich - lead vocals, guitar (track 7)
Tom G. Warrior
Tom G. Warrior - lead vocals (track 8)
Denis "Snake" Bélanger - lead vocals (track 9)
Eric Wagner - lead vocals (track 10)
King Diamond - lead vocals (track 11)
Jack Black - lead vocals, guitar (hidden track)
Bubba Dupree (Void) - guitar (track 4)
Erol Unala (Apollyon Sun, Celtic Frost) - guitar (track 8)
Matt Sweeney - additional guitar (track 9)
Stephen O'Malley - Design
Michel "Away" Langevin - Cover Art
^ a b c d Man of Steel
^ Building The Perfect Probot
^ a b c
Dave Grohl Preps A ‘Death Metal Supernatural‘ With Probot
^ a b c Appleford, Steven
Dave Grohl Drums Up
Probot Rolling Stone
(February 6, 2004). Retrieved on 2-13-09.
^ a b VENOM Singer Comments On PROBOT Project: 'This Was Heavy Shit!'
^ a b 
^ Dave Grohl's League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Dave Grohl Readies Metal Side Project, Rolling Stone
^ a b DIY Spirit Led Grohl's
Probot to Indie Label, Billboard
^ Black and Grohl: Back together
^ Chuck Schuldiner: Biography, Billboard.com, (retrieved February 18,
Dave Grohl Explains Tom Araya's Absence From
Probot CD Jan. 11, 2004
^ a b The Fan Has Won
^ "UNLEASHED: We Are Not Nazi Sympathizers!". BLABBERMOUTH.NET.
2002-10-23. Retrieved 2017-08-01.
^ "Dear Guitar Hero". Guitar World. Future US. 28 (12): 78. December
2007. ISSN 1045-6295.
^ Heavy Mettle, Time Out (2004). Retrieved on 2-14-08.
Probot Allmusic". Allmusic. Retrieved 15 June
^ Blender March 2004, p.127
^ Browne, David (16 February 2004). "
Probot Review Music Reviews and
News EW.com". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 16 June 2011.
^ Leone, Dominique (15 February 2004). "Pitchfork:
Probot: Probot". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 16 June 2011.
^ Begrand, Adrien (13 February 2004). "Probot: self-titled
<PopMatters". PopMatters. Retrieved 16 June 2011.
Rolling Stone February 19, 2004, p.67
^ Gross, Joe (March 2, 2004). "Review of Probot". Spin. Retrieved
October 25, 2009.
^ McKeating, Scott (9 February 2004). "
Probot - Review -
Stylus Magazine". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 16 June 2011.
Soulfly Stoked On Forthcoming UK Tour RockSound.tv (January 12,
2009). Retrieved on 2-03-09.
^ a b c d e f
Probot various charts lescharts.com. Retrieved 26 March
^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.).
London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 440.
"Shake Your Blood" video at MTV.com
"Cut Me Some Slack"
Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways
Them Crooked Vultures