Having not issued an all-original full length since 1991's "Twenty 1," Chicago is eyeing a spring release date for a new studio album, dubbed "Thirty." No label is yet attached to the project, which w

Having not issued an all-original full length since 1991's "Twenty 1," Chicago is eyeing a spring release date for a new studio album, dubbed "Thirty." No label is yet attached to the project, which was produced by Rascal Flatts bassist Jay DeMarcus.

Chicago's current incarnation includes original members Robert Lamm (keyboards, vocals), Walter Parazaider (woodwinds), Lee Loughnane (trumpet) and James Pankow (trombone), plus newer players Bill Champlin (keyboards, guitar, vocals), Jason Scheff (bass, vocals), Tris Imboden (drums) and Keith Howland (guitar).

"We did the album earlier this year," Parazaider tells Billboard.com. "Real proud of this thing. It's a little different twist for us, but nothing so left turn that it would be pretentious or anything else. [The album] is better on the curve as far as production, writing and performing vocally and band-wise."

He continues, "[DeMarcus] said, 'I'd like to retain "elements." You can't get away from horns or the vocalists in the band -- there are certain signature things -- but I'd just like to stretch this some.' The only other period I can liken it to excitement-wise if the first couple of albums we did, in '69 and '70. That kind of excitement and where we were stretched to the max -- he got the most out of us."

Among the songs tipped for inclusion are the potential single "Feel" (which is already part of the hard-touring band's live sets), "Caroline" and "King That Might Have Been." "There's some heavy rock'n'roll on the thing, some R&B and a ballad, but we tried to stay away from that 'Hard Habit To Break' formula," Parazaider says, referencing the 1984 No. 3 Billboard pop hit sung by former member Peter Cetera.

Chicago's current round of touring will last through Dec. 10 in Corpus Christi, Texas. "We just got off of doing two years with the Earth, Wind & Fire/Chicago tour, which was very successful all across the country," Parazaider says. "And you never know -- that may come out again in '07 or something like that. There's talk of us doing a tour with Huey Lewis next summer, but the main thrust is that album. We're really excited about it. It was just a lot of fun to do, and it didn't take us a super amount of time to do it."

Sadly, relations between the band and Cetera, who exited Chicago in 1985, remain strained. "There really hasn't been any contact, to be candid," Parazaider admits. "He was unhappy in a band configuration, and nor would we want to keep somebody in a band if they weren't happy. So it was better that we went our separate ways. The fortunate thing about it is we've been blessed. This is our 39th touring season, and we've never missed a touring season. We've been very fortunate."

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