Seeing ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons and Nashville singer-guitarist Tim Montana side by side, it's easy to think the bearded twosome are related.
"A lot of people assume that I'm Billy's son and we're not going to let the truth get in the way of a good story. He might have been traveling through Montana in the mid-Eighties, we're not sure," says Montana, a Nashville transplant from, yes, the Big Sky Country state.
The reality, however, is that Gibbons and Montana crossed paths when the ZZ Top blues-rocker was in Music City in between tour dates. A mutual friend introduced them and the pair hit it off. Together, they co-wrote the irreverent but on-the-nose rallying cry "This Beard Came Here to Party," which was used as the 2013 post-season anthem for the Boston Red Sox.
"I really like what Tim Montana is doing. It's this whole new wave in Nashville," Gibbons tells Rolling Stone Country. "It's youth-driven, and it's shaking up what some people think is country."
Following the buzz of "This Beard Came Here to Party," Gibbons invited Montana and his band, the Shrednecks, to open for ZZ Top on their tour. At a show in Bozeman, Montana, Gibbons was struck by an audience sing-along of his opening act's song "Weed and Whiskey."
"I said, 'You don't have a record out, but the crowd is already singing along with it. How'd they know it?'" Gibbons recalls. "Tim said, 'They don't know it, but by the time we get to the third verse, they've picked it up.' It is kind of catchy. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how to sing 'Weed and Whiskey.'"
After the tour, Gibbons suggested they cut the song, and volunteered his guitar services and vocals. Along with producer Marshall Altman (Frankie Ballard, Will Hoge), the duo went into the studio to record. (Listen to the song below, which is currently in rotation on SiriusXM's Outlaw Country station.)
"I feel like the music were making with Marshall and Billy is right on the money. It's just good energy," says Montana, who helped introduce Gibbons to some of Nashville's best songwriters, like Chris Stapleton and Rivers Rutherford.
"I spent two weeks with Tim, making tracks around Nashville, going from songwriter shop to songwriter shop. We came up with some really good material," says Gibbons, who, with ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill healed after fracturing his hip in a fall last August, will resume a national tour with the Texas trio in March.
Montana, meanwhile, is busy writing and touring with the Shrednecks, and is currently designing a custom guitar with Gibson to honor American Sniper inspiration Chris Kyle. The instrument will be auctioned off to benefit soldiers with PTSD during a May 1st performance by Montana in Fort Worth, Texas.
"I'm really taken aback by the great strides Nashville has made," Gibbons says, "by gaining sophistication, maintaining their leadership in the country field and not only that, but extending the boundaries and pushing those limits. It's really a remarkable environment to feel that energy."