Tom Petty is putting the finishing touches on a new solo album, "Highway Companion," expected to be released in June. Although Petty previously said the disc would be released by Rick Rubin's American

Tom Petty is putting the finishing touches on a new solo album, "Highway Companion," expected to be released in June. Although Petty previously said the disc would be released by Rick Rubin's American Recordings label, confirmation of the deal is still pending at deadline.

"I'm reaching there to try and find a theme," Petty tells Billboard of the project, which he previously described as being about the passage of time. "It's just a really nice collection of songs. I think it does have an underlying theme of time and what it does to you."

In support of the album, Petty and the Heartbreakers will tour extensively in 2006, with dates concentrated in the June-July and September-October time frames. True to form, they will try something different.

"What we're trying to do is a bunch of shows with different artists that either we like or think would be an interesting show," Petty manager Tony Dimitriades tells Billboard. "One of the main things we're doing is a bunch of shows with Pearl Jam. We're also talking to John Mayer about doing some dates, as well as the Strokes."

"And maybe in the occasional show there will be a friend [to] come on the road with us for a few days," he continues.

As previously reported, director Peter Bogdonavich is also following Petty and company for a film due later this year. Why did the famously private Petty allow for such unfettered access? "I think it's a worthwhile project, and I think it's good that he's going to finally tell this story completely. Sometimes, giving up your privacy is a little like going to the dentist, and we have let him have access that no one's ever had."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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