After years of hemming and haw-haw-haw-hawing about how far along it is, who they are working with, and whether or not it even actually exists, ZZ Top singer/guitarist (Rev.) Billy F. Gibbons said the trio plans to release its first studio album since 2003's Mescalero before the end of this year in an interview on Fox 26's morning news Monday.
"This year's going to be a banner year on a number of levels, but we're throwing our hat in the ring," Gibbons told entertainment reporter Dave Morales shortly before leaving for the band's summer European tour.
Gibbons confirmed that Rick Rubin, the only man with a beard in his and ZZ partner Dusty Hill's league, was indeed behind the boards for the sessions for the as-yet-untitled album. Rocks Off could have sworn we got something from the ZZ camp the band's collaboration with their longtime fan and music-biz guru had not worked out, but rock and roll is confusing sometimes and we couldn't be happier.
"Rick has successfully brought in his particular piece of magic in offering a few suggestions," Gibbons said. "Basically he stepped back and said, 'You don't have to get much better, just do what you do.' So that's what we've been up to."
Gibbons, whom the Texas Legislature named the official 2012 Texas State Musician last month, told Morales the album has been tracked and is a return to the band's early heavy-blues sound. The band released a taste of what might be around the corner with "Flyin' High," the song it sent into space with astronaut buddy Michael Fossum two weeks ago.
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"There's always that Tex-Mex accompaniment," he said. "I wouldn't be surprised if we lean that direction again."
Watch the entire interview on Fox 26's Web site.