Photo by Gerardo Ortiz
Billy Gibbons has led a successful career in the blues and hard rock industry as the guitarist and vocalist of ZZ TOP, gaining respect from fans and musicians worldwide. Billy Gibbons just released his long awaited solo debut album titled “Perfectamundo”.
Definitely a pleasant surprise for the ZZ TOP fans, the album displays a great blend of Afro-Cuban sound mixed with his trademark blues and hard rock guitar riffs along with great guitar solos filled with originality. This studio effort not only proves Billy Gibbons’ versatility as a musician, but also showcases his consistency as a top-notch musician.
Check out Billy Gibbons talking to MUSE ON MUSE about “Perfectamundo”.
Photo by Gerardo Ortiz
Interview / Text Mamoru Moriyama
Translation Louis Sesto (EAGLETAIL MUSIC)
Muse On Muse : You have achieved great success as the singer/guitar player for ZZ Top over the years. What was the reason behind making your first solo album “Perfectamundo”?
Billy Gibbons : We think it is some kind of serendipity or fate. An invitation to participate in the Havana Jazz Festival was the catalyst for this project. We began by coming up with a recorded set that would be compatible with an Afro-Cuban twist. We immersed ourselves in Afro-Cuban sounds to blend with our interpretation of the blues/rock essence that we’re identified with. One beat led to another and “Perfectamundo” started coming together handily.
MM : What was the concept behind this album?
BG : We are who we are so the basis is, of course, blues yet when thinking about it, blues comes from the very same place as Afro-Cuban music: West Africa. There’s that common sonic DNA moving toward interpreting both of those strains which really come from the same source.
MM : The album seems to have some distinct Afro Cuban essences. Do you think it will be a surprise for the listeners that know you as the singer / guitar player of ZZ Top?
BG : Yes, that was the intention.. a lot of the rhythmic approaches and the percussion arrangements certainly address that tradition. Perhaps some listeners will be surprised with our involvement in this but it’s a good thing.. it’s rewarding to be exploring, experimenting and stretching out with new concepts and approaches.
MM : Tell us about the recording process of the album. How was the album recorded?
BG : The album was recorded on a catch-as-catch-can basis on breaks from ZZ Top tour dates and was, accordingly, recorded in Houston, Los Angeles, Austin and Spain. Our go-to guys were engineer and co-producer Joe Hardy and engineer G. L. ‘G-Mane’ Moon. We employed the services of Mike Flanigin, a great Austin-based B3 cat who had played with us at a recent Montreux Jazz Festival and G. G. Martin, the LA guy born in Argentina and raised in Puerto Rico whose grounding in Latin sounds is nonpareil. We added Alx “Guitarzza” Garza on the session for a hot percussion and hip hop additive. The tracks were first roughed out and then on to completion. It was mostly a case of tracking the material in an incremental way as time allowed. Despite the fact that the schedule was somewhat unpredictable we persevered and the result is reflective of that “get it while you can” attitude. Watch the clock? No way! There was a confident casualness throughout the tracking in each and every session. Smoke, drink, surf the web, swap a few tall tales, and then play crazy Cuban sounds. It’s working…!
MM : On songs such as “You’re What’s Happenin’ Baby” and “Pickin’ Up Chicks On Dowling Street” have some cool and impressive solos and guitar licks. What did you keep in mind, in regards to guitar performance, when you recorded the album?
BG : We will avoid overwhelming the assembly yet the guitar parts became integral to the overall approach blending blues and rock toward a Latin flavor.. The idea is, “Say a lot by not saying all that much.” We did our best to incorporate the solo sections with a feel that the rhythms directed us to.
MM : Was there anything you kept in mind, in regards to guitar sound? Please also tell us about your gear. What guitars, guitar amps, effectors, foot pedals did you use for this recording?
BG : Yes, indeed. There’s loads of gear which allowed expanding the range of sounds heard throughout the record. Of course, for guitar, we relied heavily on our trusted standby, “Pearly Gates”, the famed ‘Gibson ‘Burst from ’59. And not far away were a couple of ancient solid body Fenders, namely 2 blackguard Esquire electrics from the early ’50’s, a Made-In-Spain “Tele” style on loan from the Nacho Baños collection and to round things out, we included a 1961 Les Paul to get that well known beefy sounding attack. The amplified backline came directly through the new Magnatone “Super ’59”, along with one of Dave Friedman’s 18 watt specials built in California named “The Pink Taco” side-by-side with a very early Marshall 18 watt with 2 twelve inch speakers! Ironically, we discovered a 50 watt tube burner from Valencia, Spain from the outfit that produces the line known as “Bigtone Amps”. All the equipment provided some very diverse tones which were quite handy for getting very different sounds. And, yes, we still use the Bixonic Expandora stompbox from Japan. Killer-diller…!
MM : Your music and guitar performance has been and still continues to be respected by countless fans as well as musicians. Is there anything in particular that you have been pursuing as a musician / guitar player in order to maintain your success in this music industry for such a long time?
BG : Well, we stand by the adage, “Play what you want to hear”, and if things work out, others might appreciate the effort and the attitude. It’s not specifically, a conscious thing but rather, finding a groove that feels right.. it’s like driving a tight and right car — gotta be comfortable, stylish and very fast. It’s the aesthetic considerations that go into the process.
MM : Please give a message to your fans.
BG : Hope you dig what we’ve done and thanks for keeping us in mind. It’s much appreciated. Watashitachi ni koshū shite kurete arigatō. (This is supposed to mean “thanks for sticking with us”)
Billy Gibbons facebook : https://www.facebook.com/BillyFGibbonsOfficial
ZZ TOP official site : http://www.zztop.com/
Perfectamundo / Billy Gibbons And The BFG’s
1. Got Love If You Want It
2. Treat Her Right
3. You’re What’s Happenin’, Baby
4. Sal y Pimiento
5. Pickin’ Up Chicks On Dowling Street
6. Hombre Sin Nombre
7. Quiero Mas Dinero
8. Baby Please Don’t Go
9. Piedras Negras
11. Q – Vo