Bill Intro 1

 

In the 1980s, ZZ Top was sitting on top of an impenetrable empire brimming with more success than the group ever dreamed of having. Formed in 1969 by guitarist Billy Gibbons, organist Lanier Greig and drummer Dan Mitchell, ZZ Top experienced a few lineup changes before they landed on a solid one, which consisted of drummer Frank Beard (yes, Beard), bassist Dusty Hill and Gibbons as lead vocalist/guitarist. The infamously bearded band of brothers released its debut album, ZZ Top’s First Album, in 1971 and followed up with 1972’s Rio Grande Mud. International notoriety, however, would not come until 1983’s Eliminator, which featured the hit singles “Legs” and “Sharped Dressed Man.” Seven more studio albums followed, culminating with an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Rick Rubin-produced La Futura in 2012. ZZ Top toured heavily in 2015, but Gibbons’ attraction to Latin and Afro-Cuban rhythms couldn’t be contained. The Texas-blues guitar aficionado finally branched out on his own with Billy Gibbons and the BFG’s Perfectamundo, an 11-track album that bursts with infectious grooves and Gibbons’ signature raspy vocal style. Gibbons’ hectic schedule luckily allowed him a little time to discuss the new album, the secret to ZZ Top’s longevity and, of course, the infamous beard. Interview by Kyle Eustice | Photo by Jordan Joseffer

When and how did your love affair with the guitar begin?
When I was five, I saw Elvis and I knew I wanted to spank the plank. It just looked like the coolest thing you could possibly do. A few days after my 13th birthday, I got a solid-body electric Gibson. That was the beginning of the beginning.


And now you have your own signature model. How did it feel to have Gibson unveil the BGSG for the first time?
It was totally cool. I mean, who wouldn’t want an amazing guitar like that? Would like to say it’s one-of-a-kind but, in truth, there’s ten of them.  


Why did you finally decide to release a solo album and what led to this decision?
An invitation to perform at the Havana Jazz Festival got us thinking about the kind of sound we’d like to hammer and that catalyzed our consideration of taking an Afro-Cuban approach. That kind of rhythm blended with a rock and bluesy background made sense so we got busy and Perfectamundo began to take shape.

 

Bill PQ 1

 

Perfectamundo is getting extremely positive reviews. Are you surprised at all by how well it’s being received?
Well, the good times that unfold in the control room seem to find their way to the grooves. The positive response that’s come to pass goes far beyond any notion we had. Sometimes when you do something left field or a bit off-the-wall it can grab people’s imagination and that’s, maybe, what happened here.

 

What do you love about Afro-Cuban music?
It’s the percussion. The rhythmic approach, literally and figuratively, is just a moving kind of thing. It’s quite accommodating. We can lay in some blues guitar and it actually fits together. After all, this stuff does come from the same place.

 

What do you think has been the secret to ZZ Top’s 45-year career?
We’ve developed a sixth sense between us. Sometimes one of us takes an unexpected turn yet we all still fall right in so, in that, we’ve become very attuned to each other. It’s all about having a good time and we like keepin’ on keepin’ on.

 

Finally, about the beard, have you ever shaved it off over the past four decades? If someone offered you a million dollars to go beardless, would you do it?
No, I haven’t parted with this chin whiskers in all that time and wouldn’t do so for a vast sum of money because the idea of looking in the mirror at something we hadn’t seen in so long is truly daunting. Maybe for a big B, however, we’d keep the lights out for a couple of weeks. But on second thought, not even, rock it.

 

 

Check out ZZ Top's video for "Gimme all your Lovin'" here:

 

  • Slash: The Thrasher Interview

    Slash: The Thrasher Interview
    Slash reached Rock God status decades ago with Guns N’ Roses. We figured the guitar legend would be out of reach for an interview. Then we heard through the grapevine that he was down with the mag, so we gave it a shot. The rest is history.
  • Punk Rock Bowling 2020

    Punk Rock Bowling 2020
    Check out the line-up for next year's Punk Rock Bowling and start planning your trip.
  • Sam Vincent Foundation Benefit Show

    Sam Vincent Foundation Benefit Show
    Come out and help raise some money for the Sam Vincent Foundation.
  • Slayter USA Tour

    Slayter USA Tour
    Slayter rocked the Death Match and is now hitting the road. Check out his dates here.
  • Death Match NYC 2019 Video

    Death Match NYC 2019 Video
    There’s a million things to do in NYC at any given moment, but there’s only one Death Match. While bands like Obituary and Agnostic Front lit up the stage and riled up the pits, ramp sessions were fueled to the next level. The energy was explosive. See you next year...
  • Slashers' "5 Mile Grind" Skate Art Video

    Slashers' "5 Mile Grind" Skate Art Video
    Many music videos have incorporated skating. No big deal. But the band Slashers and the artist Dylan Goldberger combined forces for a truly psycho skate trip. This blend is so complete that it's tough to spot any divisions between skating, music, and art.
  • Death Match NYC 2019 Lineups

    Death Match NYC 2019 Lineups
    The Death Match returns to NYC October 5th and 6th. Check out the lineups. Event is FREE and ALL AGES, RSVP here.
  • Show Me The Body

    Show Me The Body
    Come see Show Me The Body live at this show presented by Familia.
  • AVE’s New Shoe: Vans in NYC

    AVE’s New Shoe: Vans in NYC
    In celebration of AVE’s new shoe, the Vans crew came to New York for some city pushing and partying in the summer heat.
  • T-Funk’s Shoe Release Party Photos

    T-Funk’s Shoe Release Party Photos
    DC recently celebrated the release of T-Funk’s new shoe with a wear-test sesh at Baker and then some good old fashion rock ’n’ roll at Kibitz room. For a good time click here.