Pearl Jam is progressing on its eighth studio album in Seattle. Guitarist Mike McCready tells Billboard.com the band has "about 20-25" songs in the hopper, comprising "some ballads and some pretty har

Pearl Jam is progressing on its eighth studio album in Seattle. Guitarist Mike McCready tells Billboard.com the band has "about 20-25" songs in the hopper, comprising "some ballads and some pretty harder stuff, and some Who-ish type-stuff."

In addition, McCready says Pearl Jam is approaching the project from a new angle. "How we're recording it is a first," he says. "We've been recording for awhile, and then we'll sit down and listen to the songs and then take a couple of weeks off, come back and re-record them and add stuff. We generally just go in, do some demos and record."

McCready is hoping the as-yet-untitled album will be out before the end of the year, with a tour to follow. The set will be Pearl Jam's first for J Records/BMG, following the dissolution of its career-long relationship with Epic.

However, the guitarist says Pearl Jam is "not anywhere close to being done. We're about halfway there. It's going to be a really awesome record, and I'm not just saying that like every band member says it. It's been really exciting."

The opportunity to revisit and potentially add to songs has been a welcome one, the guitarist says. "I've woken up a few times and had a riff going in my head that I really liked, say, of [bassist] Jeff [Ament]'s or something," he offers. "It's like, OK, cool. That one is sticking in my head. I want to keep doing that. Let's do that. Whereas before, you'd just do it and it'd be done."

Last month during a benefit at Seattle's Paramount Theatre, the band unveiled a fast, punky song co-written by McCready with guitarist Stone Gossard, tentatively titled "Crapshoot Rapture."

"I'm certainly by no means a punk rocker at all," McCready says with a laugh. "But, the guys in my band are. Jeff and Stone and Ed have that in them, and those guys bring that out of me. We have this joke that my punk is more Dio-like."

As previously reported, McCready will lead the U.F.O. tribute band Flight To Mars at a benefit tomorrow (April 8) at Seattle's Showbox for the Northwest chapter of the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation. Earlier in the day, he will serve as the featured speaker at a CCFA luncheon at Seattle's Westin.