"Weird Al" Yankovic is "dangerously close" to completing his 13th studio album, the parody artist tells Rolling Stone.
The record, his first full-length since 2006's Straight Outta Lynwood, will consist of the five songs on his 2009 EP Internet Leaks, the medley "Polka Face" and six more. Yankovic says that he's just waiting to find the right song for its lead single.
"I'm watching the charts every week and hoping something will pop into my head," he says.
This week, Yankovic makes a departure from music to release his first children's book, When I Grow Up. The story, about an imaginative youngster with unusual career goals, is intended to inspire kids as they consider their futures.
"It's to let them know there's a whole universe of potential vocations out there," he says. "And that they don't need to be locked into anything, they can always change their minds."
The book had been in the back of Yankovic's mind for years, since publisher HarperCollins first approached him about his potential as a children's author. It makes sense that he would write for a young audience; throughout his 32-year career, "Weird Al" has become an avenue to pop music for children and adolescents.
"I think there's a certain age at which maybe some chemical gets released into their brain, where they appreciate irreverence a bit more than normal," he says. "Whatever part of my brain that keeps me in sync with them, I've managed to hold on to that."
The loyalty of Yankovic's fans was clear when he played Europe for the first time in December 2010 after being booked, unexpectedly, to headline ATP's Nightmare Before Christmas festival in London by curators Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
"There were some people who came to the shows who had literally been waiting decades to see me live, so they were very enthusiastic audiences. Hopefully, I'll be coming back," he says. "The sad part was I was extremely sick when I did ATP. I either had strep throat or was just about to get it, so it was not my best performance. I was really murdering the high notes."
He says that performing in Europe had never been feasible before due to his elaborate stage show, which requires computers, projectors and numerous costumes.
"This time, the people who did the spreadsheets were able to make so that I wasn't losing a ton of money," he says. "That was my only criteria for accepting the European shows: I don't want to lose a ton of money. By playing five dates we were able to make it so that I pretty much broke even. "
Known for his parodies, Yankovic had his own life story satirized last year with the trailer for a "Weird Al" biopic on Funny or Die. Weird: The Al Yankovic Story featured a high-profile cast, including Aaron Paul, Olivia Wilde, Gary Cole and the musician himself.
"There are still parts of it that crack me up," he says. "I love Patton Oswalt's Dr. Demento impression, and seeing the title 'Academy Award Winner Mary Steenburgen' on the screen is just hilarious to me."
According to Yankovic, only one part of the trailer is close to the truth: the portrayal of his steamy relationship with Madonna in the mid-'80s.
"That's actually the most accurate thing in the whole piece," he says. "They got that spot on."