The National is "pretty far into the process of writing" its next album, which the band will record starting in April in group member Aaron Dessner's new home studio in Brooklyn's Ditmas Park neighborhood.
The new album will be the follow-up to 2007's "Boxer" (Beggars Banquet), which has sold a career-best 147,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
The National is unlikely to return to the road until summer 2009, but will hit the stage Feb. 3 for the annual Tibet House benefit at New York's Carnegie Hall, alongside Philip Glass, Patti Smith and Vampire Weekend.
As previously reported, Aaron and his brother Bryce curated the upcoming AIDS benefit album "Dark Was the Night," due Feb. 17 from Beggars. The star-studded project boasts exclusive songs from Yo La Tengo, My Morning Jacket, Spoon, Bon Iver and Iron & Wine, among many others.
In the meantime, the Dessners have been collaborating on an instrumental project "focused on taking the way we play together and developing arrangements," Aaron Dessner tells Billboard.com.
"We did a few performances over the summer while we were on tour, like at festivals in France and Italy," Dessner says. "We performed at the White Cube Gallery in London while David Shepherd was manipulating the sound. It was really fun and inspiring."
The siblings will play again with Shepherd next month during an event at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and will also perform at the Bryce Dessner-organized Music Now Festival in Cincinnati.
"We're gearing up for possibly a really big performance together next fall, and then maybe to make a record," Dessner says. "This feeds our brains and lets us push ourselves. Either that, or it's incessant noodling."
At the outset, the duo was informally named Big Red Machine in a nod to the Dessners' Cincinnati hometown, but the brothers are now just going by their own names. "We think the Reds would get pissed off," Dessner says with a laugh. "They have the trademark."