Pearl Jam is close to beginning work on its seventh and final studio album under its contract with Sony's Epic Records label. "Sometime after the first of the year, we'll be starting the process of ma

Pearl Jam is close to beginning work on its seventh and final studio album under its contract with Sony's Epic Records label. "Sometime after the first of the year, we'll be starting the process of making another record," guitarist Stone Gossard tells Billboard.com. He adds that the band hasn't yet decided on a location or a producer for the sessions. "We haven't really figured all that stuff out yet, but we know we're going to do some recording," he says.

During its first three shows of 2001 at October's Bridge School and Groundwork benefits, the band unveiled the new songs "Last Soldier" and "I Am Mine," which were written just prior to the performances. "We decided we were all going to bring a song in and work them up before Bridge School," Gossard says. "Those were the two that really came together the easiest. It was a fun and great experience." Clips from the Groundwork show in Seattle will be shown Friday (Dec. 14) on VH1.

The forthcoming album will be the follow-up to 2000's "Binaural," which debuted at No. 2 on The Billboard 200 and has sold more than 700,000 copies in the U.S. to date, according to SoundScan. The group's subsequent world tour was compiled on 72 authorized bootleg releases, 14 of which reached The Billboard 200. No 2002 touring plans have yet been solidified.

In the meantime, Gossard and his bandmates in Brad (including ex-Satchel principals Shawn Smith and Regan Hagar) continue to polish their as-yet-untitled third album. The set is not yet attached to a label, but Gossard says he is hoping to tour "the United States and probably try to even do a little bit of Europe" in support of it sometime next summer.

Brad recently completed a short West Coast trek, during which the group honed new songs it has written since its initial recording sessions this past spring. In an attempt to bottle the energy of those performances, the group may move upcoming sessions away from Gossard's Studio Litho in Seattle.

"We may even record at our rehearsal space," Smith says. "We're trying to figure out a way to capture some of the stuff that was so good live. We want to present a few of the songs that way."

Gossard, who released his debut solo album, "Bayleaf," in September via Epic, has also posted the unreleased track "Shame on You" for streaming on his official Web site.

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