For ZZ Top, La Futura is now. This week, the Texas trio released its long-awaited 15th studio album, La Futura -- its first new effort since 2003's Mescalero. In interview with ABC News Radio, frontman Billy Gibbons says he and his band mates are "enjoying all of the tracks," while noting that "it seems to be something that is resonating on the street."
The 10-song collection abounds with the kind of classic blues-rock riffs and gritty vocals for which the band is famous, while offering up a modern sonic sheen. This dichotomy can be partly credited to maverick producer Rick Rubin, who collaborated with Gibbons on the project over a several-year period.
Noting that he's been friends with Rubin "for three decades," the singer/guitarist says he appreciated the music mogul's approach to working with the veteran rockers.
"He said, 'You know, I don't think I have to rewire ZZ Top. I'm just here to make you guys work, work, work,' and that he did," recalls Gibbons. "I suppose the good news is that through thick and thin, that's what we enjoy doing the most."
Gibbons also praises Rubin for his drive and persistence, which he feels helped ensure the quality of the final product.
"What I like about Rick's methods, he maintains a great sense of patience," notes Gibbons. "He is not in any rush, as evidenced by the fact this record took about three years to complete, but it was through the great measure of 'waiting 'til it got right,' which is to Rick's credit."
Asked to pick some of his favorite tunes from the album, Gibbons mentions the first two tracks, "Gotsta Get Paid" and "Chartreuse."
"Gotsta Get Paid" was inspired by a 1990s song by Houston hip-hop artists DJ DMD, Lil Keke and Fat Pat, on which ZZ Top puts their own blues-rock spin. He recalls that while initially working on the tune in the studio, he got the idea to add a blues-y break after watching some film clips of Lightnin' Hopkins that ZZ Top engineers Gary Moon and Joe Hardy were reviewing.
"I kind of fell in and had the guitar in hand and I said, 'What if we had the happy accident of colliding these two disparate art forms: hip-hop meets blues?'" he shares. "So, that made an interesting coupling."
As for "Chartreuse," Gibbons reveals that the song started out as an instrumental that he was having difficulty finding a theme or direction for until Moon suggested the title.
"I said, 'Well, that's an odd one. It's both a liquor and a color. That's kind of weird,'" he remembers. And [Moon] just said, 'ZZ Top is weird,' which was good enough for us. So, we called it 'Chartreuse.'"
ZZ Top is treating fans to a selection of La Futura tunes on its current U.S. tour, which is scheduled through an October 27 concert in Bee Cave, Texas. Gibbons tells ABC News Radio that the band is planning to extend the trek.
"I think we're going to extend the road show through November and possibly [into] parts of December," he reports. "And, there's possibly talk of going back to Europe, down to South America, even over to Africa. It ought to be an interesting outing to say the least."
Log on to ZZTop.com to find out more about La Futura and keep up with the latest additions to the band's itinerary.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio