Oh, yeah...there was an article/interview, too!! :)
I'm having a great time," keith urban says as he takes a break from his PLAYGIRL photo shoot, urban (yes, he spells his name in all lowercase letters) is standing in the kitchen in the home of a Capitol Records executive, dressed in a silk robe and boxer shorts, singing along to the Beatles record playing in the background. "I love getting dressed up-and having my picture taken isn't hard work."
It may not be a tough gig, but urban still has one eye on the clock. He has to be at the airport in less than two hours to catch a flight to Tulsa for a performance this evening. It's been that kind of year for the Aussie heartthrob. Since he released his self-titled debut album, urban's been running around the world on a grueling concert schedule-one that includes dates with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill in the States-and touring Australia, where he was just nominated for five Australian Country Music Awards (he also just received an American Music Award nomination for favorite new country artist). Not that he's complaining. urban loves performing-and he sees himself as a musical cupid who brings couples together at his shows.
"The most heartening thing to me as a performer is to look out and see couples at my show," urban says seriously. "That's what it's all about. I don't want to just see girls in the audience. I want couples to share the experience and have a good time together." The relationship theme is something that is near and dear to urban's heart. In fact, his self-titled debut album is all about the importance of relationships.
"Not every song reflects it, but there is absolutely a running theme about partnership," urban explains. "Even if you're single, you still hopefully have a good support team around you."
The genesis of keith urban-nine out of the 12 songs are co-written by urban-came from his own personal struggle to overcome addiction, strengthen his relationships and, finally, to heal.
"I was at a place in my life where I took everything for granted and I was struggling with some powerful demons," urban recalls. "It was the support of my family that pulled me back out of the hole again. I also lost a relationship in the middle of it-hopefully I can get that back again sometime-but it made me realize you can't do anything alone and the more you try, the more isolated you get."
urban laughs, "Guys are so macho sometimes. We'll be out together and one guy will say, "Oh, I've got to call my girlfriend" and act like it's a real hassle. Then, when he gets on the phone with her, you hear him go, "Hey babe!" and he's all excited. The truth is, we really want to be home with our wives or girlfriends. Every one of us is thinking the same thing, but no one will say it. Guys think it's a sign of weakness to say, "I love being with my girl and quite frankly, I don't really care to hang with you guys."" Since urban likes being around the girls so much, we left him in the company with a (Play)girl, who got him talking about everything we were dying to know.
PLAYGIRL: How have things changed since you left your former band, The Ranch, and started your solo career?
keith urban: "I enjoy the creative freedom of being solo, which I really didn't have as a member of a band
Also, it's much easier to accomplish a lot more in a shorter period of time. He who runs alone runs the fastest. I'm able to achieve a lot more. I have a different work ethic that's more about getting up early and doing a bunch of stuff, and if that's seven days a week, so be it. I don't have a relationship, I don't have kids, I'm a bachelor, I rent my house and I'm pretty free to spend all my time on music."
You wrote your current single, "But For the Grace of God," with two of the women from The Go-Go's. Tell me about that.
"At the time, I was being co-managed by a guy named Jed Malone who was living with Jane Wiedlin. They were a couple. Jane was coming to Nashville with Charlotte [Caffey] to write songs with people in Nashville. Jane and Charlotte write as a team a lot and they've been branching out and collaborating with other writers. Jed put us together. They came to Nashville thinking of country a certain way-it was stereotypical clichéd stuff like rhinestones and cowboy hats. I tried to explain that Nashville wasn't like that anymore. Right at the end of the writing process when I was trying to think of a way to bail out of it without offending anyone, Charlotte suggested the title, "But For the Grace of God," I loved it and started playing the guitar and warbling a melody and Jane wrote the lyrics. The whole first verse about a guy who is appreciative of his partner and his lot in life."
Speaking of lots in life, is "I Thought You Knew" a song about your life?
"I'd been in a relationship with a girl for five years and it had fallen apart for many, many reasons. The bottom line was my girl was leaving that day to move to another country. It really hit me hard what was happening with my relationship. I wanted to write a song called "The Man Who Assumed" because I thought it was a great title. I took the idea to Skip Ewing, who is a great writer and storyteller. He asked what the song was about and I said, 'It's about a guy who assumes that his girl knows how he feels about her although he's not very good at telling her.' Skip asked, "In what context did you not tell her?" and I said, 'Well, I always thought she knew.' He said, "Why don't we just call it 'I Thought You Knew.'" He's great at getting to the simplicity of a song-the real heart of the matter. So I told Skip my story and cried like a baby. It was like a therapy session. Matt was over at the piano and he was tinkling with the melody and Skip was like the psychologist jotting down all my thoughts and the song came together. It was very strange. Something I wouldn't want to do again."
How does it make you feel now to hear the song?
"I don't usually do it live because we have a lot of ballads in our show. But, when I do hear it, that day comes flooding back. It's hard."
Is that a typical guy thing? You just figure your girl knows how you feel so you don't tell her?
"I think we end up getting so preoccupied with other things in our life that we neglect some of the home front. We assume that our partners are confident and strong enough to know that we're just busy but that we still love them. Unfortunately, my girl and I had already gone through some rocky patches and this was not a great time to assume anything. I think guys also say things in heated situations that they don't mean. I would tell women to listen between the lines."
This entire album is pretty much about love, relationships and the like. Is that because of what you were going through in your personal life?
"Yeah, it's a photograph of exactly what was happening in my life. this is a really honest record. It's how I felt about my love life, but I'd also gone through rehab and a lot of drug-related stuff and I was coming out the other end of that when I made this record. The Ranch record is a very upbeat, confident almost cocksure kind of record and I loved that. But this record is more subdued because that's how I was feeling. I had been beaten down by my own demons and had come out the other end of it being very aware and grateful for just being here. I think the record reflects that sense of humility."
What does your ex-girlfriend think about the album?
"Well, she knows now how I feel about her. [laughs] She's very touched by the record. I didn't want to do the record to try to get her back. It was just therapeutic, but who knows what will happen between us down the track."
What is the first thing you notice about a woman?
"Definitely her eyes."
How are you romantic?
"I like to buy cards. Usually the ones I like the best don't say anything on the inside, there's a picture on the front that says everything."
What's your idea of the perfect romantic evening?
"One of the best romantic evenings I ever had was at home. We had a really great dinner and watched a movie. After the movie we went to bed but couldn't sleep. So, we got up and went outside and lay in the hammock with a quilt wrapped around us. A storm came over and we were being thrust around in this hammock by the wind watching the trees blowing above us. It was just beautiful. The rain started pelting down and we didn't move. We just stayed there and cuddled. It was great."
What do you think makes a woman sexy?
"A combination of confidence and humor. When that blend is right, it's extremely sexy. They go completely beyond aesthetics because you don't have to be good looking to have those qualities."
How long does it take the average guy to know he's in love?
"I don't know, you'd have to ask the average guy." (laughs)
How long does it take you to know you're in love?
"I think guys get confused with lust and love everyday."
What behavior or physical quality in a woman makes you stop dead in your tracks?
"The way a woman carries herself. It's such an undefined thing, but it's that confidence. I like confidence and independence in a woman-she doesn't need to be with you but chooses to be."
What is the most unusual fan mail you've received?
"When girls send pictures of themselves with proposals. I think that's very strange. I've gotten some really blatant letters like, "Here's some pictures of me in bikinis and I know you're single so if you're interested, here's my number." It's very odd. I like confident woman, but good Lord!"
Do you think of yourself as a sex symbol?
There are people that think of you as a sex symbol. How do you handle that?
"I take it with a grain of salt. As Mel Gibson once said when someone asked him what it was like to be the sexiest man alive, 'Well, it's better than being the sexiest man dead.' But I'm also very well aware that when that when I was going to school I couldn't get a girlfriend. All of a sudden, when I started doing musicals, there were hordes of women around. I learned early on that they weren't interested in me, they were interested in something else. That has helped me keep a reality check about who I am and what people want from me."
What traits about a woman turn you off?
"Whining. Unnecessary whining. There's a difference between bitching and whining. I can handle the bitching, in fact, I want to be there for my girl to bitch about what is upsetting her. But, whining is something entirely different."
If you could change women in one way, what would it be?
"I can't lump women all together because they're all so different."
What's it like living with you?
"You'd have to ask someone who has lived with me."
They've never told you?
"Well, I know I'm a good traveler. My old girlfriend and I were great traveling buddies. I like to just get up and go. I can be moody and flippant at times."
Where is the strangest place you ever made love?
"I don't know how strange it was but my girlfriend and I made love in an airplane bathroom. We wanted to see if it could be done and it can, but you need to be very supple."
Have any of your fans told you they like making love to your music?
"They have. And I take that as a huge compliment."
How do you and your band pass time on the bus?
"We watch a lot of comedy. Lately we watch Family Guy, which is a funny TV show. We also talk a lot. Or we'll just pull out our instruments and start playing some bluegrass music."
What Hollywood actor would pick to play you in your life story?
"Good question. It sort of runs the gamut of how I picture myself. Tom Hanks would be a good one. Tom has a very outgoing-ness about him and he carries himself very lightly, but he has such a deep passion to him that is very restrained. I think that's his appeal. I'd like to think of myself like that."
Do you have a vision of life after death?
"I believe in reincarnation...I think it's perpetual and you're free to choose how you want to go around again."
Any thoughts on what you might have been in a past life?
"Yes, I was a court jester. So much so that I'm thinking of getting a tattoo of a court jester. I've had dreams about being in the big house and entertaining. Ye of little faith might say it because I'm an entertainer and that would be the way I'd dream. But I'm more Jungian than Freudian anyway, and I tend to think there is more to dreams than just sexual repression. It makes sense. There no entertainers all through my family. I'm a showman. That what I do and that's what I live for-to entertain. Making people comfortable and them have a good time is much more important to me than my own good time. It makes me happy."
What's next for you?
"I love playing, I love singing, I love writing, I love recording...the love of all those things propels me forward and takes me places I could never have dreamed I'd be."