The Black Eyed Peas aren't monkeying around on their follow-up to 2005's four million-selling "Monkey Business." Main Pea will.i.am tells Billboard.com that the quartet's next album is "almost finishe

The Black Eyed Peas aren't monkeying around on their follow-up to 2005's four million-selling "Monkey Business." Main Pea will.i.am tells Billboard.com that the quartet's next album is "almost finished" and "will come out this time next year" -- meaning the fourth quarter of 2007. At the same time, he says there's room for a lot more to happen before the group wraps things up.

"We have 12 songs," will.i.am notes, "and we'll probably do another 30 or 40 songs." As with "Monkey Business," the Peas have been recording tracks on the road, including in China, but will probably finish things at home since the group is slated to be off tour between January and August.

As for the new album's direction, will.i.am says that "it's still a fun record" but that it also deals with social and some political issues. "We are not complaining," he says. "It's not, 'Oh, everything messed up! Oh my gosh, we're doomed!' It's a thinking record. It brings up what's happening in the world. 'Monkey Business' didn't do that."

The album has no title yet, and will.i.am says it's too early to start thinking about guests and collaborators. And any pressure to equal the multi-platinum success of "Monkey Business" and its 2003 predecessor "Elephunk" is mitigated by the Peas' own internal drive.

"We're afraid of losing what got us here, and that was humbleness and hunger," will.i.am explains. "It's easier now than it was in 1996. But it's still that fear of losing that drive and motivation and determination now that you've accomplished something. That's what's scary to us."

The album is just part of the Peas' crowded pod these days, too. The group recently released "Live From Sydney to Vegas," a highly interactive DVD featuring footage from shows in Australia and the U.S. with cutting-edge technology that allows viewers to shift seamlessly between the two concerts.

The group is also starting to plan for its third annual pre-Grammy Awards Pea Pod event, which this year will honor Interscope Records chief Jimmy Iovine. The Peas are up for one Grammy -- best pop performance by a duo or group with vocal -- while will.i.am is up for five, including producer of the year.