He’s been one of the most sought-after producers in rock for 25 years — and now that he’s also co-chairman of Columbia Records, Rick Rubin is also one of the busiest, with his hands in a dizzying list of current and upcoming projects.

Rubin discussed a number of those albums during a recent Billboard interview, conducted to celebrate the huge success of Columbia artist Adele’s new album, ’21′ (which, yes, Rubin co-produced). Up next on the schedule is the latest Red Hot Chili Peppers release, which he describes as a “Red Hot Chili Peppers that you’ve never heard before.”

Further down the road, in various stages of development: new releases from Linkin Park (“they’ve been in the studio writing”), the Avett Brothers (“they’re writing lots of songs that we’ve been recording, and it’s so beautiful, just the honesty that they deliver”), and ZZ Top (“they are hoping to have something by the end of the year, and it would be great if that works out”).

And then there’s Metallica, currently in the midst of a flurry of activity that has seen them working with Lou Reed on a full-length collaborative project. Turns out they’re also planning their own new album.

Rubin says, “[They're] about to start writing, and I had a meeting with Lars (Ulrich) in San Francisco…to explore what the focus was going to be this time around. I’m still sort of thinking about what that is going to be. I’ll ask a lot of questions and we’ll probably listen to some of the riffs that they’ve been writing. Usually I’ll hear something that will sort of indicate the direction and then we’ll talk about it from there.”

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