By Jim Davis
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees ZZ Top will bring The Tonnage Tour to Huber Heights Sunday evening for a 7 p.m. concert at Rose Music Center at The Heights.
Founding member and legendary guitarist Billy Gibbons took some time to answer a few questions for Aim Media Midwest in anticipation of the Texas-based band’s visit to the Miami Valley. Here’s what he had to say:
• Most people know ZZ Top in one form or another, but for anyone who has never experienced ZZ Top in person, what kind of show will fans see when you come to Huber Heights?
“You’ll hear songs you know, you’ll hear songs you think you know but you don’t and you’ll be hearing songs you don’t know that you don’t now know but will, thereafter, know. And it’ll be loud.”
• Whether it’s because they’re life-long fans or perhaps new fans in the making, concert-goers keep turning out whenever ZZ Top comes to town. From your perspective, what do you hope they get out of the experience of seeing you guys perform live?
“It’s the same for them as it is for us: a good time, plain and simple. We really churn the energy of the folks who come and see us so it’s a kind of perpetual motion machine. They have a good time, we sense it and we have an even better time and channel that back. It’s the funky version of the circle of live.”
• On the flip side of that – and I realize you guys have been doing this for decades and the experience has evolved – what do you, Dusty and Frank derive from the experience of visiting a town, taking the stage and performing live for people who love and appreciate what you have to share?
“We definitely get a kick out of reigniting the torch, so to speak, when a new audience throws additional fuel on the fire. Come on out and party on!”
• You guys are one of just a few bands that have stuck together 40-plus years and continue to make music together. Please tell us a little about the common thread that ties you three together and also what each of you brings to the table.
“When the three of us originally got together back around the time the earth cooled, we pretty much instantly realized we had found a combination that clicked in no uncertain terms. What was going to be a 20 minute audition turned into a three hour jam session and it’s been going on ever since. We have a certain telepathy between us so even if one of us makes a mistake (hey, it happens!), the other two know — before it’s actually happened — that they need to change course, so to speak. No one’s ever the wiser, least of all us.”
• ZZ Top fans are some of the most fiercely loyal devotees out there. You guys have fans who now bring their children – and grandchildren — to shows. From your perspective, what does that mean to you guys?
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world. We’re like cherished family heirlooms handed down from generation to generation but please don’t look for us on Antiques Road Show anytime soon as we’ve got a road show of our own.”
• After all these years – and working in an industry that is continually changing – what keeps the three of you motivated to get up every day and keep making music?
“It’s just about the only thing we know how to do and after all this time we’re starting to get good at it. Why leave the party when it’s only getting better?”
• Fans have their favorite ZZ Top songs for various reasons — How about you guys? Do you have a favorite to play live, and why?
“It’s actually two because they’re always performed back to back: “Waitin’ For The Bus” and “Jesus Just Left Chicago” — those two were coined as the first two tracks on our “Tres Hombres” album due to a mastering error and we took that as a sign that they should always be presented together. It’s a blues groove we just can’t quit.”
• Will we see any new music soon from ZZ Top?
“You’ll definitely see it and you certainly will hear it. We’ve been recording a bit of late, as our tour schedule allows and have some sides committed to virtual wax as this is written. What remains to be seen is how we’ll get this out — maybe let ‘em out one at a time versus a traditional album’s worth but the grooves are there, for sure.”
Special guests Black Stone Cherry and The Summit are slated to get the evening rolling before ZZ Top takes the stage. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with music set to start at 7 p.m.
For ticket information, visit rosemusiccenter.com. To learn more about ZZ Top, visit the band’s website at zztop.com.