ZZ Top is throwing a party this weekend at Revel and you're invited. "The idea is simple –– come on out and let's get down," says frontman and guitarist Billy Gibbons, who performs with the band 9 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at Ovation Hall.
The hard-rocking trio –– known for their signature incognito look of sunglasses, hats and scruffy, long beards –– are touring behind last year's "La Futura" (American Recordings/Universal Republic), their 15th studio album and first new music in nearly a decade.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers also are preparing for the June 10 unveiling of "ZZ Top: The Complete Studio Albums," a 10-disc box set spanning their releases from 1971's "ZZ Top's First Album" through 1990's "Recycler."
The collection will feature original mixes of the group's early albums that have never been released on compact disc. Ahead of the iconic band's latest A.C. appearance, Gibbons talks via email about ZZ Top's longevity and going back to the future with his former band, '60s-era psychedelic outfit Moving Sidewalks.
Q: With 15 albums to your name, how do you come up with your setlist?
A: Since the band's known recordings go back four decades, which in rock band terms is around the time the earth cooled, we try to offer up our overview from the band's beginning, up to the latest, "La Futura."
Q: What was the goal in pulling together the box set?
A: It's aimed at replicating the vibe of the originals, true to the mixes that were first released before they were "updated." We demanded original source tapes for this 10-disc set –– it's a way to time travel while you listen. It's good to get it right again.
Q: Having reunited earlier this year for a performance with your previous band, the Moving Sidewalks, what does the future hold for that group?
A: We just kind of picked up where we left off 44 years ago. The other guys have kept up their musical chops most impressively, making for a great time during this recent "regathering." We've got an "Extended Play" of new recordings for 2013 and, who knows, we might arrange some additional performances as schedules allow.
Q: How did your work in Moving Sidewalks influence ZZ Top?
A: While the Moving Sidewalks were always categorized as having a psychedelic sound, the root of it is the blues. Likewise, ZZ Top celebrates its blues roots that originate from that experience for me and from Dusty (Hill's) and Frank (Beard's) experience with The American Blues, which was their pre-ZZ band.
Spending time with Jimi Hendrix when the Sidewalks were happening the first time had a huge influence on our approach, and that's certainly carried over to ZZ Top.
Q: In recent years, ZZ Top has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received other career awards. Do you feel like an institution?
A: Sometimes we feel like we're institutionalized. When you do this for as long as we've done it, folks take you for granted or appreciate what you've accomplished. Happily, for us, it's the latter, so we certainly appreciate the kudos.