The Roots' Def Jam debut, "Game Theory," isn't even six months old, but the group is already at work on its follow-up, which drummer Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson tells Billboard.com will either be out i

The Roots' Def Jam debut, "Game Theory," isn't even six months old, but the group is already at work on its follow-up, which drummer Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson tells Billboard.com will either be out in October 2007 or February 2008.

"We are using a lot of synthesizer, but I don't know if I could call this the electronic album or not," Thompson says. "Pretty much five or six songs are done, and four of them are synth-heavy." The Roots have also recorded an original song, "I Will Not Apologize," based on an old track from Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. "I know somehow I'm going to find the common thread of all this stuff," Thompson offers. "I don't know what to call it, but it's something."

Thompson admits "Game Theory" may have been a bit of a downer both in music and subject matter, but he says the Roots have invigorated the material now that they're finally on tour in the United States. The group plays San Francisco tonight (Feb. 7) and tomorrow, before headlining a special pre-Grammy show in L.A. on Saturday with Jill Scott, Lupe Fiasco and Akon.

"['Game Theory'] is so melancholy and emotional and moody that our current live show absolutely betrays the feeling of that album," Thompson says. "I don't know what happened -- no one gave us the memo. We decided this is going to be our most exclamation point-filled show ever."

"Also, we've presented our show very differently," he continues. "We're up to a 10-man group and it's not one, long three-hour show. We're like our own opening act, middle act and headline act. We do different configurations of all 10 of us. It's a whole new energy. I can even tell by the reviews on our Web site that people notice a difference."

Thompson says he is unfazed by the marketplace response to "Game Theory," which shifted 61,000 copies in its first week but only 113,000 since. He points to Def Jam president Jay-Z as an example of how even for superstar acts, going gold might be the new platinum.

"Even my president, with a $20 million campaign, has a victory at 1.3 million copies," he says of Jay'Z's "Kingdome Come." "We knew this album was going to have as much to do with the marketplace as Barbra Streisand on the soul charts. But the way I look at it, this is definitely a return to form for us. Critics say we got our mojo back and our fan base agreed. That's really all we were concerned about."