Catching Up With Keith Urban
Keith Urban is living out the title of his latest album. He has started 2010 on top of the world, with his third Grammy win, his first American Music Award , first People's Choice Award and eleventh No. 1 single -- including three from the aptly titled 'Defying Gravity' CD. And, of course, there's his much-publicized home life, with wife Nicole Kidman and daughter Sunday Rose -- the two real reasons the country superstar has such a big smile on his face these days.
Keith gave The Boot a quick call from Los Angeles before jetting home to Nashville for Valentine's Day. We talked to him about the scandal his CMT 'Crossroads' partner, John Mayer, is going through, along with happier topics like how his baby girl has affected his songwriting. And for those of you who were disappointed that Keith didn't get to accept his Grammy on television, grab a tissue. The hopeless romantic more than makes up for it right here in our candid chat.
Congratulations on your Grammy win for 'Sweet Thing'! Since Best Male Country Vocal Performance was given out before the broadcast, we heard you got the news via your publicist. Where were you?
I was at home, getting ready. Nic and I were probably ten minutes from walking out the door when he called me. I was very, very surprised.
So since you didn't get a chance to give an acceptance speech, wanna give one now?
[laughs] First and foremost, I'd thank anybody who voted for me! But certainly, Nic is just absolutely ... I don't even know if she's changed my life; she's given me a life. That's what it's all about. There's seemingly no relevance to my previous life, before meeting her. I have such deep love and gratitude for everything she's done for me. Words just escape me when it comes to her.
The Grammys were arguably more country-friendly than ever this year, with more country performances, presenters, and winners! What do you think has changed to earn the genre more overall industry respect?
It's hugely popular. At the end of the day, the Grammys are about recognizing genres that are making an impact. Country is truly doing that. I felt so thrilled to be able to give the Zac Brown Band their Best New Artist Grammy. That was a great moment.
You and Nicole are right in the middle of awards season, gracing what seems like a new red carpet every week! Does it ever get monotonous -- the dressing up, the silly red carpet interviews and all of the glitz?
Red carpets are pretty unpredictable. You can go from one person asking you what you're wearing to the next person asking you about the situation in Haiti. It's the extreme juxtaposition, and some of the questions can throw me! There's limited time and lots of people to talk to ... and I'm not a fan of interviews. I like just having a chat, like we're doing right now, when we're not being pushed and pulled by people.
And I'm certainly not going to ask you what you're wearing!
[laughs] Jeans and runners [running shoes] and a shirt ... I'm writing today, so it's casual Friday when you're writing.
Already writing for the next album, I assume? Anything you've written lately that you're really excited about?
Yeah, there are a few things floating around. But what I tend to do is just once they're written, I put them aside and tend to forget about them. I move onto the next thing. Even if it was just a song from last week, I'm not looking back, because I have to write today. I probably have more songs that I think I do. That's just how I approach writing season.
Do you think we'll hear your first song about fatherhood on the next album?
I don't know ... Sunday hasn't appeared in a literal way in a song just yet. But certainly becoming a father deepens everything in my life, and that's apparent in the songs.
Sunday certainly looks like both of you ... maybe a little bit more like you. But whose personality traits do you see more in her?
She's a great mix of the two of us. But Nic and I are very similar in a lot of ways anyway. She has this incredible determination and focus. That was inevitable that she'd get that!
And growing up in Nashville with Aussie parents, who does she sound like?
I always joke that when she starts talking she's going to say, "G'day, y'all!" But she's a southern girl.
A few months ago, we saw a lot of fan petitions for ''Til Summer Comes Around' to be the next single ... and the fans got their way! So how much of a say do you have in what becomes a single and do you have another one on 'Defying Gravity' that you're rooting for?
I had this conversation with John Mayer: As artists, shouldn't we be OK with any song that's chosen as a single? Because obviously, we loved it enough to put it on the record. From that standpoint, I should be OK with any song! But there are a lot of things to take into account. If we're going out on tour, maybe we'd like an uptempo song on the radio. And if it's summertime, maybe an uptempo is better. So usually, it's just the time of year. But I was really hoping 'Summer' would come out and really happy that it did!
If I can cast my vote, 'If Ever I Could Love' would make a great single!
I love playing that song! We did that with John Mayer on [CMT's] 'Crossroads' recently. That was one of the ones that John wanted to do.
Speaking of your buddy John, he's in the midst of a huge scandal surrounding remarks he made in a Playboy interview. And he announced here at his Nashville concert last week, "I quit the media game. I'm out. I'm done. I just want to play my guitar." Do you ever have the same frustrations -- being that you pride yourself as a musician and not a public figure?
Maybe I can be a bit of a good influence on him! [laughs] It ebbs and flows. It becomes more about a balance between the two things, and being more aware of when I might be creating situations unnecessarily, that deviate from the music.
Looking at your upcoming tour schedule, you've got a lot of smaller towns on your trek, when you've reached the point where you could just do the big city stadiums if you wanted to. Is that your doing -- keeping the smaller towns on your radar?
Absolutely! We have some of the most passionate fans in the smaller places. So we're going to go out and do a lot of the festivals this year, and I'm really excited to play for some of the places we didn't get to last year.