As Adele's "21" enjoys its tenth non-consecutive week atop the Billboard 200 -- though it's projected to be knocked out this week by the "Hell: The Sequel" debut by Bad Meets Evil (Eminem and Royce da 5'9") -- Rick Rubin says he doesn't think the British singer and songwriter's sophomore album has peaked yet.
"Really, we are just on our first single ('Rolling in the Deep,' with 'Someone Like You' just coming out in the U.S.) and we think there are probably five, so I think it's just the beginning," Rubin, who produced five tracks on "21" -- including Adele's remake of the Cure's "Lovesong" -- and is also co-chairman of Columbia Records, Adele's label, tells Billboard.com. "And she's barely toured at all, so really it's in the baby stages. I think it's a beautiful album that we're all really proud of, and it's amazing that it's connecting with people in the way that it is and we just hope it continues to do so."
Rubin says that the success of "21" -- which is double-platinum in the U.S. and this year's top-selling album so far at more than seven million copies worldwide -- has surpassed any of his expectations, and he chalks it up to the simple appeal of Adele as an artist. "She is an incredible singer," he notes. "She bares her soul in her songwriting, and it's the real thing...She uses her vocal instrument in a way that we don't get to hear a lot. What she is doing, it's a very pure expression of herself and it resonates with people. There is no trickery involved. It's a really honest album."
Rubin, meanwhile, is keeping characteristically busy in the wake of "21's" run, and he ran through a quick update of what else is going on in his world these days:
Red Hot Chili Peppers: The group's "I'm With You" comes out Aug. 30, following 2006's "Stadium Arcadium" and marking the debut of new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer. "Josh is fantastic," Rubin says. "He played with John Frusciante for many, many years and he actually toured with the Chili Peppers before, so he's sort of part of the extended family. He's stylistically very close to John but has a completely different trip. It sounds like the Red Hot Chili Peppers that you've never heard before." Rubin says the group was prolific during its sessions and could well have done another double-disc like "Stadium Arcadium" but ultimately "felt like we did that. It was painful not to share all of the material that we had, but we felt it would be too much. We really wanted it to be 12 songs but it ended up being 14 just because nobody could agree on which 12."
Linkin Park: Rubin says the group has "been in the studio writing" for a follow-up to 2010's "A Thousand Suns," which Rubin also produced. "Typically we'll have a once-a-week meeting to go listen to the songs that they're coming up with and talk about them. For so early in the project, they are much further along than they have been on the last two albums we did. On ('A Thousand Suns') there were still a lot of irons in the fire. We knew, 'OK, we can't do this forever. Let's leave this batch and we'll come back and address it when we start up again.' "
Metallica: Rubin, who was not involved with the headbangers' recent collaboration with Lou Reed, reports that the quartet is "about to start writing, and I had a meeting with Lars (Ulrich) in San Francisco...to explore what the focus was going to be this time around. I'm still sort of thinking about what that is going to be. I'll ask a lot of questions and we'll probably listen to some of the riffs that they've been writing. Usually I'll hear something that will sort of indicate the direction and then we'll talk about it from there."
Avett Brothers: Rubin is working again with the Columbia group on its successor to 2009's "I and Love and You," which he says "is coming out beautifully. It's a natural progression. They're writing lots of songs that we've been recording, and it's so beautiful, just the honesty that they deliver. You feel what good people they are. They are really earnest, and it connects and the music is like that. It's just honest, earnest, personal, good music."
ZZ Top: "They're signed to American and they're working on a new album now. I'm helping with the songs, and I'll probably be the executive producer at the end of the day. They tour a lot, so they work between touring. I know that they're kind of moving along. They are hoping to have something by the end of the year, and it would be great if that works out." They also spend time comparing notes on their beards, Rubin says: "We trade shampoo tips."
Kid Rock: "He's going to play me some new songs, and I can't wait to hear them. I love our last album ('Born Free'); I think it's great and I think it's his best album. It's the music he likes. It's where he lives. So the goal is to get closer to where he lives, and I'm hoping there will be more of that. I haven't heard the songs, so I can't say."