ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons has announced details of his follow-up album to 2018's The Big Bad Blues. Hardware will be released on June 4 via Concord Records.
Gibbons has also released a video for the first single from the album, West Coast Junkie. It's introduced by Billy preaching, "People say to me... have mercy... have mercy" before the song itself – a nugget of propulsive, sassy R&B featuring a trio of bikini-clad desert dancers – winds into gear. Watch it below.
Hardware was recorded at Escape in California’s high desert, 40km from Palm Springs, a facility described as an "outlet for artists, photographers, writers and filmmakers."
"We holed up in the desert for a few weeks in the heat of the summer and that in itself was pretty intense," says Gibbons. "To let off steam we just ‘let it rock’ and that’s what Hardware is really all about. For the most part, it’s a raging rocker but always mindful of the desert’s implicit mystery."
"The desert settings, replete with shifting sands, cacti and rattlesnakes makes for the kind of backdrop that lends an element of intrigue reflected in the sounds created out there.”
Hardware’s title is a tribute to recording engineer Joe Hardy, who died after a short illness in 2019. Hardy had worked with Gibbons and ZZ Top from 1983's classic Eliminator onwards, while the cover of the new album features an illustration of the band's iconic 1933 Ford Coupe.
"Joe Hardy played a huge role in our lives," Gibbons told Commercial Appeal in the wake of the engineer's death. "He was a true innovator in a field where many just did it 'by the book.' He threw away 'the book' and wrote his own. The result took our audio signature and just about everything he worked on to new sonic frontiers."
As on Big Bad Blues, Gibbons is joined on Hardware by former Guns N' Roses, Velvet Revolver and Cult drummer Matt Sorum, and Alabaman guitarist Austin Hanks, who co-wrote Flyin' High with Gibbon's on ZZ Top's La Futera album. Also performing on the album are rising country stars Larkin Poe, who appear on Stackin’ Bones. Full tracklist below.
The album’s last track, Desert High, is a spoken word tribute to Gram Parsons, whose death in 1973 occurred close to where Hardware was recorded. All of the songs on the album are originals apart from Hey Baby, Que Paso, originally recorded in 1990 by the Texas Tornados, a Tejano supergroup that included Doug Sahm and Freddy Fender among its members.
Hardware is released on June 4 and is available to pre-order now.
Billy Gibbons - Hardware tracklist
My Lucky Card
She’s On Fire
Shuffle, Step & Slide
West Coast Junkie
Stackin’ Bones (featuring Larkin Poe)
I Was A Highway
Hey Baby, Que Paso