HOLLYWOOD — Half-naked girls, covered in tattoos and sporting multi-colored hair, writhe to the beat. Some of them are chained down as their friends whip them. Two dance in cages. They're entranced by a giant rotating stage, with Dave Grohl planted firmly in the middle.
Is this the video for the next Tenacious D anthem, or a satirical Foo Fighters clip? Not quite.
It's the set for "Shake Your Blood," the first video from Grohl's long-discussed side project, Probot. And with Motörhead's Lemmy Kilmister striking his traditional poses, stoner-rock architect Scott "Wino" Weinrich banging both his head and his guitar, and the ladies from SuicideGirls.com cavorting about, there's not a trace of irony to be found.
"We're just kind of making rock music, and having a good time," said Grohl, with grave understatement, between takes.
The Probot album was recorded by Grohl, who wrote all of the music and played most of the instruments, together with his friend Matt Sweeney from the bands Chavez and Zwan. After completing the instrumental tracks, Grohl dug up singers from the metal bands he worshipped when he was playing in pre-Nirvana bands like Scream and had each of them contribute lyrics and vocals to separate songs (see "Dave Grohl Sees A Fortune In Video Directing, Not Probot" ).
The result is an eclectic but consistently pummeling slab that features the vocal talents of Lemmy, Snake (Voivod), Cronos (Venom), Max Cavalera (Soulfy/ ex-Sepultura), Tom G. Warrior (Celtic Frost), Eric Wagner (Trouble), King Diamond (Mercyful Fate), Lee Dorrian (Cathedral/ ex-Napalm Death), Mike Dean (Corrosion of Conformity), Kurt Brecht (D.R.I.) and Wino, a member of seminal bands the Obsessed and Saint Vitus and more recent acts like Spirit Caravan, Place of Skulls and the Hidden Hand.
The album also features a guitar solo from ex-Soundgarden axeman Kim Thayil, an appearance by Void's Bubba Dupree and a "surprise" hidden track fronted by an as-yet-unnamed fellow celebrity metal fan.
"It's been about three-and-a-half years for this record to really happen," said Grohl, clad in a now sweaty Motörhead T-shirt. "The logistics were nuts, getting all the different vocalists in the studio. ... Meanwhile, I was out on tour with the Foo Fighters and coming home after eight months, the last thing I wanted to do was get on the phone and start rounding up tapes."
The album will finally surface in February, and will be preceded by a 7-inch (limited to 6,666 copies) featuring the Cronos and Wino tracks.
After several meetings with higher-profile labels, Grohl ultimately decided to go underground and release the album with stoner-rock kingpin Greg Anderson's Southern Lord, home to releases from bands like Goatsnake, Pentagram and Thorr's Hammer.
"This whole project has a certain vibe and spirit," Grohl explained. "There are certain boundaries that you have to stay within. The vocalists are all from a specific era. I found myself having to explain to people at record companies [why these singers are cool]. I realized that if I have to explain it to someone, they are just not going to get it. It's just not going to work."
Grohl was also hesitant to work with anyone who would market Probot as a nostalgia trip or for its potential "comedic" value. "A lot of people don't know how to take it," Grohl said. "Like, 'Do we take it seriously? What's Dave doing? Is he really into this music?'
"I grew up listening to hardcore and underground metal," he continued. "That's how I learned how to play the drums. Those are the shows I would go see when I was 14. My hardcore band, Mission Impossible, opened up for the Obsessed."
And here on the set for "Shake Your Blood," where Southern Lord's Anderson stood with the extras during the break, Grohl is just as jazzed as anyone else in the room to see Wino and Lemmy sharing a stage together.
"I am paying tribute to these people," he said, just before being called back to pound his kit — its bass drum emblazoned with the Suicide Girls "SG" logo — for another trip on the spinning stage. "But beyond anything, I just wanted to make a record with some great songs, with some great singers."