Keith Ur­ban on try­ing to keep life in bal­ance

The Hamilton Spectator - - A & E - DAVID FRIEND

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 of 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.”

RICK DI­A­MOND, GETTY

Keith Ur­ban is in Canada for sev­eral shows.

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