ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons: ‘We Didn’t Want to Put Out an Album Like the Last Two’
When looking at the lineage of ZZ Top, perhaps it’s no big surprise to learn exactly how big of an influence Jeff Beck’s music was on the group, particularly guitarist Billy Gibbons.
Gibbons tells Classic Rock in a new interview that “we modeled ourselves on the Jeff Beck Group. It’s taken me 30 years to get a voice as nasty as Rod Stewart’s.” Indeed, every bit of scuz dripping from Gibbons’ vocals on the latest ZZ Top single ‘I Gotsta Get Paid’ feels like it was earned the hard way, expertly crafted and chiseled.
As they work to complete what will be their first new studio album in nearly 10 years, Gibbons declares “The band is constantly attempting to expand the elegance of the simple trio for bigger effect. The steady and stalwart sides of the sound — focus and ferocity — remain constant. It’s the addition of fuzz and frazz that builds it up.”
Fuzz and frazz?
“We’re still just three guys drawing on anything and everything to make it snap.” In other words, if it rocks and grooves, they’re down. Nixed titles for the new album so far include ‘Automatic Hydraulic’ and ‘La Futura.’ But whatever they end up calling it, releasing an album will be a step that ZZ Top will take very carefully. Gibbons says the delay between albums is a conscious move, because “we’re fairly aware of what people think of us and we didn’t want to put out an album like the last two (1999’s ‘XXX’ and 2003’s ‘Mescalaro’)”
With that in mind, Gibbons shares that they were “stalling” until they “found a groove” they liked. “People will either like it or they won’t. Either way, I’m glad it’s finally done, because it has been a long time and I’m sorry for that.”
One thing he’s sure of is that nobody can master the art of being ZZ Top better than ZZ Top themselves. “It’s difficult to find an artist that can do a ZZ Top song – we’re so personality heavy.” This inimitable component, paired with he group’s longevity has seen their “once unpredictable style” come “back into vogue.”