TORONTO — Keith Urban has racked up the miles touring like few other country stars, but along the way he’s picked up a few tactics to keep in him the good books of wife Nicole Kidman.
Even when he’s touring the world, the New Zealand-born musician says he seeks a pattern that brings some stability to his personal life, even if it means catching a plane in the middle of the night.
“If there’s a way for me to get home after a show — even if it gets me there at 1 in the morning — then I can at least have breakfast (and) lunch with the family,” Urban said, who shares two daughters with Kidman.
“I’m liking this rhythm of touring right now, sort of do some shows go home, do some shows go home. It’s feels quite balanced. … It’s not like we’re on the road for weeks and weeks at a time.”
Finding harmony in a busy schedule is a constant struggle, Urban says, even after more than 15 years of tours that touched down mostly in the United States, Canada and Australia.
Urban returns for a slate of Canadian shows in the coming weeks, including the Big Valley Jamboree near Edmonton on Saturday, before rolling into the Boots and Heart Music Festival north of Toronto on Aug. 11., Montreal on Aug. 12 and Quebec City on Aug. 13.
The “Blue Ain’t Your Color” singer talked to The Canadian Press about managing his family and career, and the breakout success of Kidman’s HBO series “Big Little Lies.”
CP: You’re among the stars of country music who’ve managed to juggle public and personal life, including your 11-year marriage to Nicole Kidman, who herself seems to be keeping a full schedule. How do you maintain a balance?
Urban: I’ve definitely turned down gigs and appearances because it was getting too lopsided. The reality is — this is one of the truer phrases ever — balance is never achieved, it’s just maintained. My life goes out of balance, it just does. The only difference these days is that I can usually sense that it’s going out balance before it does. Or I can look at a schedule and think: “That looks doable now, looking at a sheet of paper, but the physicality of that (isn’t) taking various things into account.”
CP: Kidman has had quite a year herself with her Oscar nomination for ”Lion,” and “Big Little Lies.” When you first saw the HBO series did you have a hunch it would take off like it has? (Kidman is in the running for an Emmy for best actress in a limited series or TV movie.)
Urban: Everything about it was done with such a raw authenticity. It was extraordinary work and, for me, among some of Nic’s finest work ever. Some of the therapy scenes were just fantastic. What I love especially is it was all them, it was all the girls that made this happen. This wasn’t a project that got brought to Nic or Reese (Witherspoon). This was them — Reese — reading the book, Nic getting on a plane and flying to Australia to meet (author) Liane Moriarty and seeing if they can get their support in securing the rights in getting it made into a series.
CP: Kidman has talked about how emotionally difficult it was playing Celeste, a character who’s caught in an abusive marriage, and how she’d turn to you for emotional support at times. How do you deal with those professional struggles when they seep into your private life?
Urban: By being a loving husband, ya know? Nic is an accessor more than an actor, meaning that, for me, she accesses everything that you’re seeing or feeling on camera. If she’s getting tossed around or she’s being traumatized, she’s really feeling it. It’s legit. Those scenes were pretty heavy. She would call me after a day of shooting and be just really shaken. I could hear it in her voice. Luckily we’re both artists and I get the passion and commitment in her life, in storytelling.
CP: You’ve been working away on a new album between tour dates this year. What’s it like picking away at recording while playing cities across the U.S?
Urban: Making a record is definitely not a straight line for me. I love and I hate the process. It’s extremely frustrating knowing that an enormous amount of work is just going to get scrapped. Sometimes weeks or even months of working on something that just gets squashed or deleted because I wandered off on something that didn’t go anywhere. That’s why I like collaborating. Sometimes you need somebody to say: “You’ve just wandered way off the reservation.”