Pearl Jam have begun work on early demos for their ninth studio album — which will be their first with producer Brendan O'Brien since 1998's Yield, according to guitarist Mike McCready. "It's really in its infant stages right now," McCready tells Rolling Stone. "We have about five ideas that have been worked on." The band, whose last album was 2006's well-received Pearl Jam, isn't sure yet about the direction of the new release. "Brendan is another set of ears that we respect, and he's going to give us a different way to go but I don't know what that is yet," McCready says. The band has already had one session with O'Brien, and will probably resume work on the album in July after finishing their June U.S. tour.
Meanwhile, McCready is continuing his charity work for his cause of choice: raising awareness about Crohn's disease, the digestive ailment he's suffered from since he was 21. He's leading a May 3rd benefit concert at the Seattle club Showbox at the Market, raising money for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America. McCready will perform twice,Â first with Rick and Chris Friel from his pre-Pearl Jam band Shadow, and then with Flight to Mars, his tribute band to British rockers UFO (the band's guitarist, Michael Schenker, was a big influence). During the Shadow set, McCready expects his old friend Duff McKagan to jump on stage. "He wants to sing [the Stooges'] 'I Wannna Be Your Dog,'" McCready says. "I'm just stoked he wanted to be part of it."