Michael Bolton performs at the Grammy Museum on November 11, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Maury Phillips, WireImage)

 

Michael Bolton performs at the Grammy Museum on November 11, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.

Maury Phillips, WireImage

After releasing "Ain't No Mountain High Enough: A Tribute to Hitsville U.S.A."  earlier this year, Michael Bolton is getting back to original songwriting -- and with some collaborators he says may surprise us. 

"I'm writing with a group of people who are, like, the new hot guns," says Bolton, who's keeping his collaborators' names under wraps for now. "It's an interesting crew, an interesting cast of characters, really talented people. They're some of the most successful and some of the biggest contemporary artists out there. But I'm kind of keeping this to myself until I know what my project looks like."

Nevertheless, Bolton -- who's collaborated with Lady Gaga and Ne-Yo in recent years -- notes that this course of action "kind of takes me full circle to when everything took off to me. My songwriting career took off first, and I was trying to do that on the side while I was trying to do a solo career. I was writing songs and creating a catalog. Diane Warren was down the street, and we'd collaborate together. Desmond Child, too. It was a whole group of  songwriters, and this is kind of like that, I think. The good news is that melody is back in pop music again. There's a lot of melody in music now, across the board from hip-hop to country, and that's where I'm the most comfortable, so it's made me roll up my sleeve and get on the phone to my manager and publishers and say 'I feel like going on a writing run for the next few months.' " 

And, Bolton adds, he's not necessarily doing all of this writing just for his own next album.

"Half of (the songs) are maybe a little too young for me, thematically," he explains. "I'm writing songs that could be great for any young, contemporary artists but I'm also going to write songs I feel are great for my next project, too. It still has to be a theme and vocally has to be something that resonates to my core in order for it to resonate with my audience. So we'll see; some of these things seem like they might be written for Katy Perry or someone in that vocal range, but if it's a song that could speak to anybody I'm making notes and moving things around and I'll see if it's something that would work for me." 

Bolton, who wrapped a North American tour this week, gets back on the road Feb. 8, with Mexican dates in late March and a European trek starting April 23 in Berlin. He's also "developing a couple of television shows" that he hopes to put in production next year, as well as a stage musical that's still being written and "could be a year off, could be a little more than a year off." 

"You write this stuff to last, not to get out quickly," he says. "The good thing about all the travel is you can rest your voice after a show and whether you're traveling by bus or flying you can be working on these other projects and developing things as you go. That's my down time."