Interview and Live Photos by Robert Cavuoto
Legendary blues-rock guitarist and God of Tone, Billy F. Gibbons, has released his new and third solo CD, Hardware, via Concord Records on June 4th.
Hardware goes beyond the boundaries of Billy’s two previous two solo endeavors of Perfectamundo  with its Afro-Cuban flair and Big Bad Blues  with its infectious blues riffage.
As you would expect, Hardware incorporates the blues but taps into a much statelier and more straightforward rock-oriented presentation with no shortage of his gruff vocals and powerful lyrics. He seamlessly and impressively leaps from style to style on this CD, from the powerhouse opener of “My Lucky Card” to the big punchy riff of “Stacking Bones” to the soulful balladry of “Vagabond Man,” to the orchestral grandeur of “Desert High.” Each song provides his signature guitar tone, crunchy licks, and big hooks.
The album was recorded with drummer Matt Sorum and guitarist Austin Hanks at Escape Studios. Hardware can be ordered here in multiple formats https://billygibbons.com
It was a pleasure interviewing Billy about the creation of Hardware while gaining some insights into how and when inspiration strikes him and why he feels ZZ Top’s music is so well received by people for the past fifty years!
Robert Cavuoto: After fifty years of writing songs, tell me how you never run out of inspiration for emotional, impactful, and entertaining songs, particularly on “Vagabond Man” and “I Was A Highway?”
Billy F. Gibbons: That’s just it! Whether on stage, on the road, or in the studio, the possibilities become limitless. Take the juice and let it flow!
Robert Cavuoto: Tell me how and when inspiration typically strikes you and what you do to capture those special moments?
Billy F. Gibbons: It could come at any time, like with the turn of phrase or a provocative string of descriptive expressions. This record is certainly a highlight with the creative instigations of Matt and Mr. Hanks; backbeat-meets-guitar riff thing. Then, BFG thing gets to steer the Cadillac!
Robert Cavuoto: Your style of guitar playing is so identifiable; do you consider that to be a gift or a curse?
Billy F. Gibbons: Well, the six-string DNA always comes across and then back again. The gift is a willingness to enter the unknown and dragging the known along for the ride.
Robert Cavuoto: Songs are written in different ways and for different purposes based on your frame of mind. Do you do find yourself creating something adequate one day, then suddenly creating something very special like how you did with the songs on this CD?
Billy F. Gibbons: Legibility is key! The scraps of paper dredged up from the pocket has got to make visual sense. The follow-up arrangements make it to the finish line one step ahead of the hounds.
Robert Cavuoto: I noticed some Hendrix influences in songs like “My Luck Card” and “S-G-L-M-B-B-R.” with the riffs and guitar phrasing. Were you paying homage to him, or is that something that comes out naturally?
Billy F. Gibbons: Jimi Hendrix? Oh, yeah! [laughing] The electric avenue is strewn with crossroads, and yet, the signposts maintain a secret familiarity. And so, it is with the spontaneous combustion of connectivity.
Robert Cavuoto: Did you use the Strat that Jimi gave you to record any of these songs?
Billy F. Gibbons: Yes indeed. And the array of solid-body extras added the punch of some extra special sauce to the flavor of the album.
Robert Cavuoto: My favorite track was “Stackin’ Bones” can you share some insight into its creation?
Billy F. Gibbons: Credit the Larkin Poe siblings, Rebecca & Megan. Great technique on the slabs, along with the “ooh-la-las” turning the song into poetic exoticness. They showed up at the studio, fooled around a bit, and then let it rip.
Robert Cavuoto: ZZ Top is truly a global phenomenon. Can you explain what it is about your music that transcends to so many people around the globe in such a positive manner over the last fifty-plus years?
Billy F. Gibbons: I suspect it’s all about good times and gettin’ “gooder.” The propellent of getting to do what we get to do simply steady rolls, and that’s no lie. That’s the best. Simplicity at its most difficult.