Ringo Starr Talks 2017 Album Plans & All-Starr Band Tour: 'I Have a Lot of Fun With a Lot of Friends'

Noam Galai/Getty Images
Ringo Starr performs at Kings Theatre on Oct. 31, 2015 in New York City.

His new tour kicks off Friday.

With his latest All-Starr Band tour about to start -- a 19-date U.S. trek kicking off Friday in Syracuse, New York -- Ringo Starr is eyeballing a new album release for early next year.

Starr, who's been recording at his home studio in Los Angeles, tells Billboard that he has eight songs in motion, mostly needing lyrics. Two are co-written with Toto and All-Starr Band guitarist Steve Lukather and will be finished during the upcoming tour. "We've got the tracks down; now we have to write the words," Starr says. "We know where it's going. We've got the idea. We've got the first verse of one of them. The second will be a ballad. We're gonna finish them while we're on the road." Another track, meanwhile, is a collaboration with Dave Stewart originally intended for a country album the two were hoping to make this month before the All-Starr tour was scheduled.

Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band to Tour in 2016

"We thought, 'Well, we'll get some songs together,' so we did," Starr says. "So there's stuff around. We'll do the country album another time now. There's lots you can do."

Other collaborators for the follow-up to 2015's Postcards to Paradise include Starr regulars Gary Burr and Gary Nicholson, All-Starr Band veteran Richard Marx and Van Dyke Parks, who's been part of Starr's last several albums. "I love working with Van Dyke," Starr says. "I only need a line, and we write a song together. I've known him since '76. We're good friends and, y'know, he's a genius. I'm lucky; I have a lot of fun with a lot of friends."

Postcards From Paradise also featured members of the latest All-Starr Band all together on one track for the first time ever, but Starr isn't sure that will be repeated this time around. "I have tried over 25 years now with the All-Starrs to get in a room and write songs and make a record, and it never worked," Starr says. "We know it can work, but everybody has other stuff to do as well. Todd [Rundgren], I think he's had two days off 'cause he's on tour himself. Lukather's out there with [Toto]. Greg [Rolie] did the Santana getting back together stuff. I think if we were going to get into this like that, then I think we'd have to forego a lot of the outside issues that we have."

Ringo Starr Talks 'Photograph' Book, Snapping Foo Fighters & Auctioning Beatles Memories

For now, however, Starr is happy to just tour with this All-Starr group, which is the longest-running lineup since he began the concept in 1989. "I feel like we are a band; maybe my name is in the front, but we're a band," Starr says. "We support each other and we know each other and we have a lot of fun. We play well, the songs are great and the audiences love it, but it's also sitting on the plane, sitting in the bus, sitting in the van -- it's all OK. Every time we end a tour, I say, 'OK, that's it,' and then [my manager] will say, 'Well, what about October?' and I say to the band, 'You want to go in October?' and we all say 'Yes!' So it's good."

Outside of the All-Starrs, Starr is gearing up for his 75th birthday celebration on July 7 -- with details to be announced -- as well as the 10th anniversary of the Cirque du Soleil LOVE show in Las Vegas and the fall premiere of Ron Howard's documentary about the Beatles' touring years in America.