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ZZ Top Amassed ’20 CDs of Starter Material’ Before Creating ‘La Futura’

Mary Ouellette,

ZZ Top aren’t exactly the “turn around a new album every year” kind of band anymore, but even by their standards, their latest stint between records was rather long. Part of the reason for that is the perfectionist streak that went into the ‘La Futura’ disc, courtesy of noted producer Rick Rubin.

Billy Gibbons tells Music Radar that it took nearly four years to complete the disc, with occasional breaks for touring splitting up the time. Gibbons recalls, “Rick wanted us to work hard, but he placed an emphasis on us being casual and having a good time. And I found out that one of his high cards is patience. He was in no hurry to run the risk of having something half-baked. His attitude was, ‘It’s gonna take as long as it takes until it’s right.’”

The singer says that in attempt to record the best album possible, they amassed “roughly 20 CDs worth of starter piece material, songs, ideas and jam sessions.” After working through that, the group met with Rubin to discuss starting the recording process. “Rick said, ‘Go back to Texas and draw as much as you can from our couple of months together. As you go along, we’ll keep a line of communication open to see if we’re getting somewhere.’ And that’s what we did. So I produced a number of tracks and we whittled them down to a nice, manageable batch.”

Having that much material to choose from meant there was no filler on the disc, and Gibbons says he’s happy with the outcome. “I must say, we were quite pleased to hear the final version,” says the singer. “What you suspect you’re hearing is what you’re getting: three guys playing the same three chords.” He adds, “It’s a funny thing – because the record took so long to reach its completion, we had forgotten some of its magical moments. And now we have to go learn it so we can play it live!”

Look for ZZ Top’s ‘La Futura’ in stores Sept. 11. We’ll be hunting down those 20 demo CDs as soon as they leave their homes.

Next: Billy Gibbons Almost Loses His Vinyl Collection

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