Brian Setzer, 2014

Brian Setzer photographed in 2014 by Russ Harrington.

Russ Harrington

The veteran singer-songwriter discusses his new "Rockabilly Riot!" album, out today on Surfdog Records.

Brian Setzer says his new "Rockabilly Riot!" was anything but premeditated.

"I don't think in terms of writing certain records at all," Setzer tells Billboard. "The songs kind of come to me, and after I write three or four songs it determines itself what it should be, and after the third song for this I said, 'Well, it sounds like a rockabilly record to me.' It screamed stand-up piano, stand-up bass, drums and good, rockin' guitar. That's just really what it wanted to be. You just have to sit down and write a song, and then if you think in that rockabilly mentality, the song just becomes that."

Watch the lyric video for new song "Lemme Slide" below:

As its title indicates, "Rockabilly Riot!" is as straight-up as anything Setzer did with the Stray Cats, from revved up ravers such as "Let's Shake," "Stiletto Cool" and "Nothing Is a Sure Thing" to the shuffles of "Rockabilly Blues" and "Calamity Jane" and the doo-wop crooning of "The Girl With the Blues in Her Eyes." Setzer recorded the set with a quartet in Nashville, working with British producer Peter Collins.

"I think this album was a lot about performance," Setzer explains. "We took about a week and a half to arrange it. Then I went on tour and I cut CDs for everyone and they took them home and lived with them for about a month and a half, so they really had them down rather than going in and doing them one song at a time. That's really what this music takes -- you've got to get it under your belt and make it yours rather than create it in the studio. So this was less about the studio and more about the band."

Setzer isn't likely to get his rockabilly band out on the road to support "Rockabilly Riot!" for a while, however. He predicts it will likely be after Christmas, following his Brian Setzer Orchestra's regular holiday tour which kicks off November 14 in Minneapolis. It marks the 20th year for the Orchestra concept, which Setzer launched in the face of more than a few naysayers.

"When I think about it, I just think of how many friends I've made over the years, guys who have been in the band for a long, long time," he says. "Musically I can do whatever I want with it. And nobody's done it like this. I don't know many people who have a big band going and keep it active like this. People, when they hear it, they love it and they come back. It's really been a great thing."