Hardware is the third solo album from legendary ZZ Top guitarist and frontman Billy F Gibbons. Gibbons was 70 when the album was recorded, but he hasn’t lost a step. Both his guitar work and voice still sound like that brash young rocker on albums like Tres Hombres and Eliminator.
As Gibbons tells it, the album was inspired by a need for action while cooped up due to the pandemic, and by the remote desert studio where it was recorded. “It was [drummer] Matt Sorum that rang up out of the clear blue, way back in June, and he said, ‘I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to do something’ And making loud noise is right up our alley, so how would you feel about going out and checking out a new recording studio?” And I said, ‘Gee whiz! That’s music to my ears! Whaddaya got in mind?’ And he said ‘Oh, there’s a place out near Joshua Tree.’ When we arrived, I thought ‘Oh, 30 minutes, we’ll have a look around.’ Well, those 30 minutes turned into three months. We walked through the front door, and we didn’t leave until we had wrapped up this album project.”
While his first two solo albums drew from blues and Latin sounds, Hardware is more of a straightforward, down-and-dirty rocker. But it also takes cues from the high desert environment where it was recorded — enigmatic, still, sometimes sinister. “It’s a raging rocker but always mindful of the desert’s implicit mystery,” said Gibbons. “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."