ZZ Top's "long-awaited record" -- its first since 2003's "Mescalero" -- is "still long and awaiting" according to guitarist Billy F. Gibbons.
But he makes it sound like the wait will be over sooner rather than later.
"It's down to seeds and stems, just picking through the good stuff," says Gibbons, 62, who's working on the new music with producer Rick Rubin. "As a couple of friends of ours said, 'You really don't have to get that much better; your big job is really holding it down and not making too many drastic changes,' which I kinda like.
"It's just pretty much straight-ahead. I don't see any major changes. If we stumble into something drastic, fine. If it works, we'll know it."
The Texas trio has, however, delivered a "present" for fans in the form of "Texicali," a digital EP of four "meaty and greasy" songs including "I Gotsa Get Paid," which is featured in ads for Jeremiah Weed malt liquors. Gibbons predicts another half-dozen songs will be part of the final album, -- not quite "Mescalero's" 16 tracks, but he thinks that's OK.
"In today's game, (16 songs) is a bit overwhelming," says Gibbons, who has his own line of BFG barbecue and hot sauces, as well as a beer and a designer pocketknife. "You're in this netherworld of trying to guess what the next move is in the record business.
"I think by and large a 10-song offering is par for the course. Any more than that is a little overwhelming, any less than that somebody says, 'Where's my 10th song?' So it's probably going to be a game of pick and choose."
The Gang of Outlaws Tour, with ZZ Top, 3 Doors Down, Gretchen Wilson and Leroy Powell & the Messengers, plays at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 27, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $49.50 and $35 pavilion, $25 lawn with a $75 lawn four-pack. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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