As Pearl Jam moves ahead with self-releasing its first music since parting ways with longtime label Epic, guitarist Mike McCready says the band could return to the studio as early as April.

As Pearl Jam moves ahead with self-releasing its first music since parting ways with longtime label Epic, guitarist Mike McCready says the band could return to the studio as early as April.

"Now that we're free from our contract, we're just going to see how things go from here," he reveals. He adds that the band is exploring a number of ways to get music to its fans, whether it is self-released or issued through a deal with an existing label willing to approach the projects adventurously.

As first reported here last month, Pearl Jam's official Web site is selling a commercial single for "Man of the Hour," which will appear as the end-title song in Tim Burton's upcoming film "Big Fish." The cut also appears on the Sony soundtrack, due Dec. 23.

Pearl Jam has been toying with the idea of starting its own label, possibly through Sony, but McCready says it's not likely.

"We've thought about it," the guitarist says. "But the problem is [that] we don't want to become a record company, we still want to be a rock band. To get into that aspect of starting your own label and worrying about distribution, it turns into way more of a business than any of us want to deal with. It's intriguing, but I think the five of us don't want to be [those] kind of businessmen. We want to rock and play music."

McCready adds that the band has not decided how to release its next studio album. "Everything can be sold online now," McCready says. "It's completely changed from where we were when the band started. I would not want to be in a band trying to get signed right now; it would be pretty tough."

As far as illegal downloading is concerned, McCready says it has affected the band's overall record sales, but artists need to find a way to embrace and monetize it. "[Downloading] is part of life now, and I think people have to adapt," he points out. "It's not going away. We have to adapt, and the record labels have to adapt and embrace it and figure out creative ways to sell music through iTunes and [others]. It forces everyone to think out of the box."