Den 22 juli släpper ZZ Top plattan Raw som är soundtracket till den hyllade Netflix dokumentären ”That little Ol´band from Texas som kom 2019. Detta blev bandets sista inspelning med Dusty Hill som tyvärr avled förra året.

The Maloik fick en intervju med bandets gitarrist Billy Gibbons om Dusty, låtar som han egentlige skulle vilja spela live, vilket album han är mest stolt över och mycket annat.

First of all, All the members of the Maloik Rock Blog want’s to send our deepest condolences to you about Dusty’s pasing. 
Can you describe some of his greatness as a person, musician, singer and songwriter?

The Dust had it all: a truly gifted musician, and particularly an accomplished vocalist.  He was loyal, cheerful, stoic and everything one might want in a partnership, lasting more than five decades. 

You said in an interview with ”CBS Sunday Morning” there was never any talk of changing drummer when Frank was in rehab in the 80’s. You said ”There is no other drummer”.  Was there any hesitation for you to continue after Dusty’s passing?

It was Dusty’s wish and request we continue with Elwood at the ready holding down the bottom with his effervescent bass-guitar chops.  And, as our sidekick for 30-something years, Elwood’s mastery of the ZZ effect brought it all together in righteous memory of Señor Hill…!

You have made lot’s of studio albums. Is there any particular album that you are proud of?

”Tres Hombres” is a real standout for a few choice reasons.  “La Grange” brought along the first Top 10 and the “ Tres Hombres” disc starts off on the “Waiting For the Bus” / “Jesus Just Left Chicago” coupling.  Both tracks accidentally got spliced together as one continuous song.  We found that to be, quite unexpectedly, a curiously cosmic event.  The gatefold inner sleeve spread of a giant Mexican feast, prepared by our old friend Leo Reynosa, who ran the TexMex restaurant we frequented daily, tells the tales of ZZ Top quite effectively.  On that note, Leo actually ran in earlier times in the Northern region of Mexico with the notorious revolutionary, Pancho Villa!  That association escalated the sense of history which connected with us and, at the same time, created a solid theme for a favorite ZZ record. 

Is there an album that did not turn out as well as you had hoped?

Fortunately, no.  In the beginning, although we were so new at the studio thing, we held high hopes toward creating our first album, cleverly titled “ZZ Top’s First Album”. It actually turned out OK..!  To this day, we still play tunes from that first disc out on the touring trail.  It turned out to establish us with a spontaneous longtime alliance which has taken us beyond the five decade mark.

Name three favorite songs that you rarely or never play live.

We rarely get to play “Sleeping Bag” or “Velcro Fly’ in concert these days although we could gladly work ’em back into the show. Additionally, the “Velcro Fly” choreography ,created by none other than the talents of Paula Abdul, could be a considerable bonus. When in Sin City, we do get down to performing our raunchy version of “Viva La Vegas”. 

 You have played in Sweden so many times. Do you have a special memory from Sweden that you want to share?

When we first started performingSweden, we were struck with the many great, American classic cars running the streets.  It obvious that Swedish car culture is right up there with the best of ‘em.  When we’re around, especially on a Sunday day-off, we’re always on the lookout to catch a cruise, ala Hot Rod!

Afterburner is a very special record for my own part and I still love it until this day. You really managed to combine rock with electronic music. How did you get the idea for it because, it was a big change for you purely sound-wise?

We were coming off the “Eliminator” roadshow which was quite the extended run and wanted to come up with something that continue up the path with blues meeting modern… a bit more mysterious and relatable.  “Rough Boy” and “Woke Up With Wood” relate to that sonic design quite specifically. 

Was there any plan to make a sequel with the same sound as Afterburner?

The follow-up album, “Recycler” returned the band to our pre-Eliminator/Afterburner sound while keeping trend with some additional high tech touches along with our traditional low down sounds.  The Afterburner ambiance, although intriguing, was now behind us and the new look toward studio affairs took on the quest for a different forward design.  And, as usual, it’s always the bluesy feel that keeps the work in a reliable state. 

In 2023, the album Tres Hombres will be 50 years old and the classic Eliminator turns 40. Have you ever considered the idea of ​​doing an anniversary tour and performing any of these albums in their entirety?

I know it’s the fashion to perform classic albums in their entirety yet the concert experience is far removed from the studio experience.  It may work for one yet might be quite different for the other.  The ZZ song set easily draws from quite a bit of recorded material in our ever-changing touring presentation these days so the territory is covered with a wide range of selections. 

I noted on your set list from a gig in California on February 25, that you did not play any song where Dusty sang lead. Is there something you intend to continue with, or is it any song that Dusty sang, that you can consider singing?

Dusty’s voice was his own, very original in range and delivery.  However, we’re not opposed to offering one of the songs without Dusty’s singing…it’s obviously going to require an arrangement to effectively entertain from a different angle. 

Regarding the setlist. How do you think about that? Will you focus more on songs that are so called ”deep cuts” in your catalog?

The ZZ Top catalog is almost entirely comprised of “deep cuts”.  Yeah, there certainly are a few notable exceptions, yet that allows putting a setlist together in an organic manner which, of course, is subject to change on a moment’s notice.  Frank, Elwood, and I all agree that the challenge of immediate, on the spot changes, keeps things right and tight.

Do you have any special routines before you go on stage?

We reach out to experience local flavors of sampling Mexican fare while wearing pajamas.  South of the Border cuisine remains a mainstay wherever we may be.  We do gather up with a grin before taking the deck which ramps up our collective excitement.

Do have any secret talent that few people knows about?

Watercolor renderings were previously a little known sidetracked endeavor until recently.  Some of the recent offerings have now been included in the exhaustive work from Spain’s talented guitar afficianado, Nacho Baños, in his latest book set called, The Pinecaster.  Watercolor renderings and development of Mexican food recipes and preps are slowly coming out from behind the curtain. 

You are going on your RAW Whiskey Tour in North America. Will the tour come to Europe some day?

That next trip through Europe certainly remains the wish of the band. Arrival awaits and we can’t wait. 

Will there be a new ZZ Top album? Are you working on new music?

We have a new album of jam session versions with many of our well known numbers entitled, “Raw”, due to hit the streets in July 2022.  Our new album with new material must await delivery for a later revised date.  In the meantime, we’re taking a moment to learn how to play the new stuff which we are supposed to already know…!

Put together a band. You can name any musician you like (dead or alive) 
Which members would be part of that band?

Jimi Hendrix and Peter Green: guitar, Little Richard: piano, Big Mama Thornton: harmonica, Buddy Rich: drums, Keith Richards: vocals.

You’ve done thousands of interviews by now. But is there any question that you never get from anyone, that you could talk about for hours?

Yes! I can talk about the Perry Mason TV series until the cows come home.  It’s well known that cars are a contact topic… the history makes, models, even names are evocative: Mercury Marauder, Buick Wildcat, Plymouth Fury.  Titular excitement!! 

Finaly. I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart, for all the great music that you have put out over the years.
I have been a huge ZZ Top fan since I was 4 years old. 
So thank you very very much!!

You’re welcome!

Text och foto: Ulf Romedahl