Metallica's Lars Ulrich on New Album: "It's Pretty Close"

Metallica might have a few side projects lined up—everything from a few shows this summer to re-releasing their back catalog—but none of it is getting in the way of recording their new studio album.

"We are fucking in it," Lars Ulrich told Rolling Stone's Kory Grow. "We've got lots of songs, and we're honing them and tweaking them. It's pretty close."

Sources say the band members have written nearly 20 songs for the new album, the followup to 2008's Death Magnetic. They''' likely enter the pre-production recording phase in the near future.

Ulrich assures fans that Metallica are not planning on pulling a Beyoncé- or U2-style surprise release. "Right now, it's not like we're going to do one of those things where we'll just give it to iTunes on Thursday without telling anybody," he said. "That's not in the cards."

"In our world, there's been a distinct difference between the creative phase and the recording phase," Ulrich added. "With this project, we're trying to bridge the two a little more organically and not have there be such a great divide between the processes. We want to see if we can bring some of the creative curiosity, the impulsive stuff that happens when you're first playing a song into the studio.

"You want to tweak it and get it good, but you also want to record it in a way where it doesn't feel labored over and overthought," he continues. "We're trying to figure out where that line is." Stay tuned for updates!