With an estimated 25 songs written and a producer lined up, Hawthorne Heights is ready to set its third album in motion. But outstanding "legal aspects" are still holding things up.

With an estimated 25 songs written and a producer lined up, Hawthorne Heights is ready to set its third album in motion. But outstanding "legal aspects" are still holding things up.

"It's not really a matter of us being prepared," drummer Eron Bucciarelli tells Billboard.com. "It's a matter of us working out some of our (legal) situation right now. Once we get that resolved, we're gonna be in the studio as soon as possible."

Earlier this year, the Dayton, Ohio, quintet did some pre-production on the new material with producer Howard Benson (Daughtry, Hoobastank). "We can't wait to get back with him," Bucciarelli says. "The songs got so much better just from the week or two we worked with him. We can't wait to see the finished project."

Bucciarelli describes the songs as "sort of all over the place ... a lot more diverse. I don't think any two songs sound the same, which is cool. I think these songs are the best we've ever written. It's very much a natural growth. I think people will see the progression."

Hawthorne Heights -- which kicks off a four-week tour Friday (Nov. 23) in Detroit -- has one of the songs, "Come Back Home," posted on its MySpace page, and is playing others, including "Rescue Me" and "The End of the Underground," at its shows.

The group is still battling its label, Victory Records, and its president, Tony Brummel, in Chicago federal court, claiming damage to the group's reputation and its relationship with its fans. Brummel countersued the band and Virgin Records, who he claimed was trying to steal Hawthorne Heights away. There are also outstanding copyright ownership and trademark infringement issues. Judge James Moran has ruled that Hawthorne Heights' contract with Victory does not prohibit the band from recording for another company but that the group still owes Victory two more albums.

Meanwhile, the group's previous management firm, Wild Justice, has sued Hawthorne Heights for breaching a verbal contract. But Bucciarelli says the suit stems from "a misunderstanding" that will be rectified soon. "We haven't paid him the severance yet that we agreed on," Bucciarelli explains, "so he felt like he had to come after us legally. It's being resolved. It's not even on the forefront of our minds; we're just concerned with making a new record, getting it out there to our fans and getting back in the swing of things, basically."