The Avett Brothers are "the first step in" to their next studio album, the follow-up to 2009's "I and Love and You," which debuted at No. 16 on the Billboard 200.

"We have completed one session of recording," Scott Avett reports to Billboard.com, adding that the group convened at Echo Mountain studio in Asheville, N.C., and will be working again with producer Rick Rubin. "We haven't gotten through the entire list of songs we have for candidates for recording; this time we have a really long list of songs, and we'll just carve it from there and let the best and most appropriate songs see the light of day."

Avett Brothers Show 'Love' for Pop on Major Label Debut

Avett says that grappling with the amount of material is the most daunting task at this point. "We're looking at stopping it at 25 (songs)," he says. "We have definitely that many we could do. The number of songs could probably go triple or quadruple that if we want, but sometimes the quality starts to drop with the quantity, so you can't base it on numbers. If we only make it to 13, which is where we're at now, and that's the end of it, that's OK, too."

The Avetts, who released "Live, Volume 3" in 2010, are testing out some of the new songs at their sporadic gigs -- "We just can't help ourselves," Scott notes with a laugh -- and hope to be back in the studio within a month. But the group isn't adhering to any particular schedule or time frame, by design.

"That's one of the things we've learned," Avett explains. "Before, I'd be like, 'We're gonna do one more session and finish this thing off.' Now, we're going to listen to what we've done, we're gonna discuss it, discuss it with Rick, take our time with it and let the relationships with the songs grow. We're really giving them time to be the best they can be and...not let anything out of the gate that's not great." Nevertheless, he adds, "I would hope we could have something done by the middle of the year."

Another development, Avett notes, is greater confidence in the studio after the high stakes of making the group's first major label album.

"We've learned a lot," he notes, "and we've got many more tools than we did when we made records in the past. We have more confidence on more instruments. We have more confidence in our singing. And we're more open; if I'm singing a part and I feel like my brother (Seth) could sing it better...well, two, three, four years ago I would have said, 'I wrote these lyrics. They're coming from me. I'm gonna push and do it.' Now I'm pulling back and saying, 'Let him do it.' Those are the kind of tools I'm talking about, too."