As hard-hitting collective readies debut, ‘Greatest Hits Vol. 1,’ folks Foo Fighters, Lamb of God, Slipknot and even more explain its origins
“It was like hardcore karaoke having a bass,” the ever-affable Dave Grohl says of recording with all the all-star punk and metal project Teenage Time Killers. “I just sat there, ripping to one of the best drummer [Corrosion of Conformity’s] Reed Mullin and the most popular vocalists — Randy [Blythe] from Lamb of God, and fucking Neil Fallon, the singer of Clutch, and Pete [Stahl], the singer of Scream.”
Along with Grohl’s appearance, Teenage Time Killers’ debut features 29 other guest shots by many of heavy music’s biggest names. The record, cheekily titled Greatest Hits Vol. 1 and due out recently, sports a collage of current and former people Fear, the Germs, Slipknot, Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat, Bad Religion, Alkaline Trio, Prong and others who play the variety of catchy punk rock and electrifying gutter metal. The sheer talent around the record (begin to see the full track list here) helps it be one on the most exciting punk projects in years, but Greatest Hits’ noticably feature is its effortless feel. Despite the mix-and-match cast, nothing here sounds forced.
“To me, it’s actually a mixture of Dave Grohl’s Probot project plus the seminal fucking punk-rock comp Let Them Eat Jellybeans,” says Mullin, part of the triumvirate that led the group, referencing a 1981 compilation that featured Dead Kennedys, Flipper and Subhumans. “I have no idea of what I’d call Teenage Time Killers, but I do know it is just a supergroup of fucking badass musicians and singers.” By Mullin’s own estimation, everything wouldn’t have happened without Grohl’s generosity and loyalty.
The roots on the project stretch back 3 decades. In the early Eighties, Mullin with the exceptional Raleigh, North Carolina–based bandmates began making regular trips to Washington, D.C. to check out the city’s booming hardcore scene, led by groups like Bad Brains, Void, Scream, Minor Threat. At these shows, the drummer spoke with other fans and struck up a friendship with “this one kid” over the shared love of Chuck Biscuits, then this drummer for D.O.A., Black Flag and Circle Jerks.
“This kid would approach me each time we’d play D.C.,” says Mullin, whose razor-sharp memory helps him recount long, intricate tales. “It turned into Dave Grohl, and the man followed me around and learned how I did triplets and stuff like that. It took him, like, a fortnight to figure out the many shit I knew how you can do.”
“Reed was my drumming hero when I was 15 or 16 years of age,” Grohl says. “Corrosion of Conformity stood a record called Animosity, that has been one with the defining albums of these hardcore-metal genre. It’s a classic. It’s the Odessey and Oracle of fucking crossover hardcore metal albums. I’ve stolen a lot of his fucking riffs from that record in the past.”
Eventually, Mullin got around to looking into Grohl’s band at that time, the post-hardcore crew Dain Bramage. “We were opening for just a band called Honor Role,” Grohl recalls. “We were sound-checking and I was going fucking bananas, crazier than I’ve ever been. I was this sort of fucking spaz around the drums, it turned out nuts. I check out, it becomes an empty club aside from Reed standing from the stage, watching me.”
“They were killer,” Mullin says. “They sounded like Hüsker Dü somewhat.”
Both drummers remained as in their teens, however the C.O.C. stickman had dropped from high school and started a label called No Core. He am impressed with the information he saw that they offered up his imprint release a Dain Bramage’s debut LP, I Scream Not Coming Down, that also came out more famously around the West Coast via Mullin’s friend’s label, Fartblossom. “I am forever indebted to him for your,” Grohl says.
The pair remained friends from the decades that followed, as C.O.C. became MTV favorites with metal and stoner-rock hits like “Vote With a Bullet” and “Albatross” so that as Grohl hopped from Dain Bramage for the D.C. hardcore group Scream and then became a household name with Nirvana and Foo Fighters. Years later, though, in an Atlanta gig first of Grohl’s other bands, Them Crooked Vultures, the Dain Bramage drummer would can recall the role Mullin played in his career.
“Dave said, ‘Listen, I’ve got a killer studio in California. You along with the C.O.C. guys gotta emerge and do an album there. I’ll totally hook you up,'” Mullin says. “‘This is my studio manager. Call him whenever you get home and hang something up.’ So they split, per week goes by, and I obtain a call from Dave. ‘Reed, what is going on? You never called. What happened?’ I was like, ‘Dude, I thought that you were just being nice.’ So I booked serious amounts of C.O.C. decided there.”
The trio took to record its self-titled 2012 LP at Grohl’s Studio 606, and although there, Mullin struck up a friendship with chief engineer John “Lou” Lousteau. Eventually, the engineer suggested that he plus the drummer collaborate on the five-song hardcore EP in times when Foo Fighters weren’t around. Lousteau also earned guitarist Mick Murphy, also of My Ruin and a couple of side projects featuring Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins (The Birds of Satan and Chevy Metal), to perform the nucleus on the group.
When the trio finally convened, Mullin had five songs that split the visible difference between the bludgeoning crossover metal of D.R.I. and Black Flag’s epic sludge. The fifth tune would be a musical interpretation of your poem by John Cleese the place that the Monty Python comedian eviscerated conservative radio host Sean Hannity. “It was destined to be four songs when camping singing, and I chose to get Jello Biafra to sing that ‘Ode to Sean Hannity’ song, just ’cause it seemed so suitable for him,” Mullin says. “I’ve known Jello since ’82 when he discovered C.O.C. through Maximum Rocknroll and wanted us to spread out for the Dead Kennedys.”
The project would have been to remain an EP with merely one guest until Mullin spotted “this really tall dude wearing sunglasses as well as a giant C.O.C. shirt” at LAX. Feeling snarky, Mullin approached the fan and said, “Nice shirt.” The man lowered his shades and said, “Reed? Reed from C.O.C.? Dude, I’m Randy from Lamb of God. What the fuck are you currently doing here?” Mullin filled him in within the EP, and Blythe motivated to sing a tune.
“Growing up from the Virginia–North Carolina punk scene, Corrosion of Conformity were a massive influence on me from about age 14 or 15 on, specifically their Animosity album,” Blythe tells Rolling Stone. “Reed Mullin and Mike Dean’s vocals on that album were my first direct musical influence as a possible aggressive singer. What punk-rock kid wouldn’t would like to sing upon an album alongside dudes from every one of the bands that have been the soundtrack on their awakening as being a real person?”
The Lamb of God screamer recorded his song, “Hung Out to Dry” — a stuttering exercise in riffy skate-punk — with Mullin and C.O.C.’s Mike Dean in Raleigh. “Basically I recorded a straight-up punk-rock song with dudes that made one of the best records of them all, then bugged them having a bunch of questions on that record I had had seen in my head since high school graduation,” the singer beams. “I never even dreamed that type of thing would ever happen.”
As to the subject matter in the track, which could well be Teenage Time Killers’ anthem and is among Grohl’s favorites, Blythe says it comes down to how Internet connectivity has “killed” the mystery in underground music. “The song can be a lament that this new generation can never even have the opportunity to miss a few of the amazing aspects of our community that I experienced,” he tells. “It honestly really makes me sad. I get bummed that most these kids who’re growing up are cheated out of many of the human interaction our scene provided and merely about all its tasty local flavor.”
With Blythe and Biafra now agreeable, Mullin and his awesome bandmates began calling other musical pals. The finished version of “Hung Out to Dry” would feature guitarist Mike Schaefer, of Raleigh thrash band Blatant Disarray, and, on bass, Grohl.
“Nobody said, ‘Well, permit me to speak to my lawyer first,’ or, ‘I was required to put my manager or publishing upon it,'” Mullin says. “I think when I asked Pete Stahl from Scream, he was quoted saying, ‘Dude, I’d be honored.’ I was like, ‘You’d be honored? I’d be honored to obtain you on this.’ It was only a lot of serendipity and getting friends for over thirty years.”
The songs within the record are generally Mullin-Murphy originals, just some offbeat covers find their way in the mix. The noticably redux will be the group’s rally cry, “Teenage Time Killer,” that is fittingly sung by real-life teenager Trenton Rogers, the middle-school-student singer of any band called Chaotic Justice. The discordant lament was originally recorded by British art-punks Rudimentary Peni for their self-titled 1981 seven-inch. The record can also include takes on “Ignorant People,” originally by D.C. bruisers Void, and “Big Money,” a song by North Carolina’s Village Pistols.
“They were kind of an goofball punk band from ’78 or ’79 and also the only thing they did would be a seven-inch, and another side would have been a terrible version of ‘Strawberry Fields’ along with the other was one from the best punk songs I’ve heard, ‘Big Money,'” Mullin says with the latter. “It’s a real good tune, I’ve planned to do a cover from it since I was 15 or 16. The vocalist always reminded me of [Fear singer] Lee Ving, so I described the idea to Lou and Mick and they also were like, ‘Oh, we have got to get this.’ Luckily, Dave had done some assist [Ving] for the Sound City thing.”
“It would be a good song that has a nice sentiment,” says Ving, who cites the “party record” vibe with the Sex Pistols as turning him through to punk. “I has not been aware in the Village Pistols. I paid attention to it and called back and said, ‘Hell, yeah, man, let’s try this. This is destined to be good.'”
The “Big Money” cover also features Foo Fighters guitarist Pat Smear, who slugged out on L.A.’s early punk circuit alongside Fear, playing guitar and bass. The two musicians had previously reconnected once they recorded “Your Wife Is Calling” for Grohl’s Sound City: Real to Reel soundtrack album and tour. “I met Pat through me having Fear anf the husband being from the Germs,” Ving says, pointing out how the two were never inside room for that recording of “Big Money.” “Pat’s a fantastic guy, man. He’s easy-going, really smart.”
With time, the guest list started growing: former Kyuss and Queens from the Stone Age bassist Nick Oliveri chipped in for the Void cover, Eyehategod howler Mike Williams sang the Black Flag–ish rager “Time to Die,” Alkaline Trio frontman Matt Skiba sang the poppy punk anthem “Barrio.” “It just felt like punk, blues and metal all stirred up and pissed as being a hornet’s nest,” says Slipknot’s Corey Taylor, who sang the stomping, better-than-you–themed “Egobomb.” “I just hope I held my.”
And, naturally, they got Grohl. “As soon as Dave found out about the project, he was like, ‘Oh, I wish to play onto it,'” Mullin recalls. “We were like, ‘Heck, yeah!’ Not to mention it absolutely was his studio anf the husband was totally giving us the offer. It turns out, man, he can be a fucking phenomenal bass player.”
“It’s probably my personal favorite instrument to learn standing up,” Grohl says. “My schedule was crazy, so I went in and knocked out a whole lot in one day. I don’t even remember the amount of.”
In total, the Foo Fighter played on 11 of Greatest Hits Vol. 1’s 20 tracks. “It was actually fun,” he states. “Then I continued doing Foo Fighters shit, Sonic Highways stuff, plus a little while later, Lou said, ‘Hey, we finished mixing the Teenage Time Killers record.’ I was like, ‘Oh, you heard that right. Let me listen to it.’ He offered me a copy and also the fucking thing was stuck around my CD player inside my car for months. I heard it each and every fucking day.”
When Rolling Stone asks Grohl about his favorite performances about the record, he doesn’t know how to start. “Pete Stahl, who sang for Scream now sings for Goatsnake — he’s like my friend,” Grohl says. “He taught me tips on how to be a touring musician. Randy from Lamb of God — I love his song; it’s extremely fucking cool and fun to try out. I love Neil Fallon’s voice. You can’t get it wrong with Jello Biafra and Lee Ving. It’s just brimming with heroes. And Mick Murphy’s riffs are merely so fucking sharp and Reed. . .”
Grohl pauses, suggesting a dawning revelation. “You know who the most popular singer is on that record?” he asks. “Reed Mullin. His song ‘The Dead Hand’ — oh, my God, think about it.
“It’s funny,” he continues. “People miss how much he sang on that Animosity record. I think he sings all side one of these record. He’s got this fucking awesome hardcore voice. But I mean, who’s the best singer? The drummer. How about that.”
“‘The Dead Hand’ is this fact system which the Soviet Union been on place through the Cold War where, whenever we bombed it, it will launch all of their arsenal at us and wipe everybody out,” Mullin says with the inspiration behind his friend’s favorite track. Then, categorizing the tune along with his wont, he adds, “It’s a Discharge-sounding, medium-paced song.”
Everything went so well with all the recording that Mullin says he’s already thinking of Greatest Hits Vol. 2, grilling Rolling Stone about who the attendees should be. “There’s no Roger Miret or John Joseph within the first one,” he states. “There’s no Texas folks or U.K. or Europe folks. Maybe we can easily get [Rudimentary Peni frontman] Nick Blinko to sing onto it.” Although Vol. 1 features 20 songs, Mullin says the group recorded 24. He also has 5 to 6 more written for any second installment.
“This was just likely to be this tiny project,” Mullin says. “Because Dave we will record at his position for virtually nothing, so we knew a lot of people, it really kind of became whatever it is.”
Also, now the album is finished, the C.O.C. drummer initiated a policy of wrapping his mind around how he might get Teenage Time Killers onstage. He’s currently planning an L.A. gig sometime in late August or early September. “Even as we get two thirds on the people, it’ll still be described as a big show,” he states. “It might become a short show therefore, like, Lee Ving came out, maybe we’d perform Fear song, too.” Beyond L.A., Mullin hopes to setup gigs in New York, Chicago, Seattle and London.
“Oh, my God,” Grohl says which has a laugh for the prospect from the concerts. “I need to read those fucking songs again. Those are difficult.”