ZZ Top is "in full production" on a new album, its long-awaited follow-up to 2003's "Mescalero," which guitarist Billy F. Gibbons predicts will be out "by the end of the year."
Gibbons tells Billboard.com that the Texas trio has been working on the set in both Houston and Los Angeles. "I've got a little studio at my house out in L.A.," he says, "and it kind of takes the load off to be able to leave Texas, got to California, stay there for awhile and then you get to leave California and come back to Texas."
As for the sound, Gibbons notes that he, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard are "still just making a lot of loud noise. We still pose as interpreters of the blues. We can't invent it; It's already been invented. But we can do it our way." Gibbons adds that the album will be comprised primarily of originals but that the group "might cover a couple of things."
Speaking of covers, a ZZ Top tribute album is also on the way, with Foo Fighters, Nickelback and Kid Rock taking part, according to Gibbons. A representative from Universal South says the collection is still being recorded and compiled with no title, release date or firm track list in place yet.
ZZ Top, meanwhile, hits the road with Lynyrd Skynyrd for the Rebels & Bandoleros Tour that stars May 12 in Wichita, Kansas, and plays 11 dates over three weeks. The full tour itinerary includes:
May 12: Wichita, Kans. (Intrust Bank Arena)
May 13: Belton, Tex. (Bell County Expo Center)
May 14: Oklahoma City, Okla. (Zoo Amphitheatre)
May 19: Bangor, Maine (Bangor Waterfront Pavilion)
May 20: Big Flats, N.Y. (Tags Summer Stage)
May 21: Albany, N.Y. (Times Union Center)
May 22: Youngstown, Ohio (Covelli Centre)
May 26: Peoria, Ill. (Peoria Civic Center Theatre)
May 27: Lampe, Mo. (Black Oak Mountain Amphitheatre)
May 28: Bossier City, L.A. (Centurytel Arena)
May 29: Orange Beach, Ala. (Amphitheater at the Wharf)