Aussie country singer Keith Urban started 2001 off with a bang. “But for the Grace of God” became his first No. 1 hit. Days later he received a top new male vocalist nomination for the 36th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards. Urban called CMT.com from his home in Nashville to answer 20 questions sent in by fans. He talked about everything from posing for Playgirl magazine and the tattoo on his left shoulder to spending time with his parents and plans for his next album.
1. Do you have “#1” painted on your toenails now in honor of “But for the Grace of God”?
That’s a great question! No, I don’t. They’re still gold!
2. How did writing with Jane Wiedlin and Charlotte Caffey come about?
It came about through mutual friends of Jane’s and mine. It took place here in Nashville probably mid-to-late 1998, maybe even earlier than that. The song has been sitting around for a good few years. They came to Nashville, writing with different people all week and I just met with them on one particular day, and this song came out.
3. Who (you, Charlotte Caffey or Jane Wiedlin) came up with the line, “He wanders through his empty home surrounded by his things”? Wow. It is so true of so many people. Great line!
Yeah, Jane was really responsible for most of the lyrics.
4. Keith, I was wondering what kind of tattoo you have on your shoulder? I would love to know.
It’s an eagle. It’s on my left shoulder blade. I gave it to myself for my 24th birthday.
5. I saw you in the April issue of Playgirl and wanted to know if you were nervous when you posed? You looked good!
Thanks, mom! (Laughter) Yeah, I was a little nervous, but I’m just grateful that I play guitar and not harmonica.
6. What brand of cologne do you wear? I met you last year and thought your cologne was just as terrific as your music!
Calvin Klein Escape.
7. What is the meaning of the necklace you wear? The one with a circle and two triangles on a black leather strap?
There isn’t any meaning, as far as I know, but I bought it in Whangarei. That’s the town where I was born in New Zealand. I was there Christmastime and I wanted to wear something that came from my birth town.
8. There are several references to Laura on the new CD. Who is she?
9. What kind of car do you drive? I believe a car says a lot about a person. (Or do you take taxis around town?)
I have two cars at the moment. I just bought a Chevy Impala SS, ’94, and I also have a Chevy Caprice Classic.
10. You’ve accomplished so much within the last year with your appearance on the Grand Ole Opry, your No. 1 hit and award nominations. What’s left on your” to do” list?
Lots of things! Wow, another album is important, and trying to tour maybe in some other countries.
11. Where was the video for “Your Everything” filmed?
It was filmed in Beverly Hills, Calif.
12. I have enjoyed your debut (solo) CD very much. My 4-year-old and I listen to it every day. When will you be coming out with a new one? Will it be similar to your first?
I think we probably won’t have a new record out until next year. Hopefully I’m gonna get into the studios in the fall, which would meana record would come out next year. It won’t be radically different, but it’s really too early to tell, as I’m writing songs at the moment. When you start to write enough songs, you can see a common thread through some of them. I think I’ll let the songs dictate therecord. Hopefully it will incorporate some more of the live energy we have on stage.
13. Were you originally with the group The Ranch earlier in your career?
The Ranch was a band that gradually formed out of my backing band I had in Australia. I had a five-piece band in Australia, and I could only bring a couple of the guys with me to the States because of economical reasons. I eventually shrunk the band down to a three-piece that was under my name. Then it became Keith Urban and Four-Wheel Drive, then it became the Ranch.
14. Who did you listen to when you were growing up?
That’s a long list. My dad’s record collection was predominantly American country — Charley Pride, Glen Campbell, Dolly Parton, Tanya Tucker and Ronnie Milsap. When I was 15, a friend turned me on to Dire Straits. My brother was into Jackson Browne, Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles. Somewhere in the middle of all of that is what I do.
15. Do you find that fans relate to you differently in the States than they do in Australia, and has your fame expanded there since you came to the States?
Yeah, it’s interesting, because we’ve had more success here [in the U.S.] in the sense that there are more outlets, bigger outlets, for country music. So you get more popular quicker once you get on TV here. But our supporters in Australia seem to have grown, and I always love going back.
16. Have your parents considered moving to the U.S. since it’s obvious you’re gonna be around here for a long time to come?
Yeah, actually my folks have been trying to sell their house so they could move over. My mom has decided to come on ahead, she’s going to be here next month and stay for at least six months. My dad is still living in our old house, trying to sell it. I get along great with them, too.
17. I read your cooking article in Country Weekly. Do you find it hard to stay healthy and eat right on the road?
Yeah! I’m really not a very good cook. I definitely have to watch what I eat when I’m on the road. You have to plan ahead because you’re not going to find good places open late at night when you want to eat. So you have to buy things in the day that you can put in the fridge to eat later that night, so you don’t have to eat at a fast food joint.
18. What do you do in your free time, what little there is, that is not work-related? It’s hard to imagine you doing laundry and attending to your lawn.
I do my laundry! Other than that, just read, watch TV, go to the movies — usual living stuff.
19. As the mother of three young boys, I’m always concerned with their life and what they are getting into. Does your mother still give you her opinion? If so, do you take it?
Absolutely and absolutely! I always call my parents if I need just a little more wisdom on anything, really. I’ll call them and ask their opinion — they work well together in giving advice.
20. If you had one day to do something very special with and for someone, who would that person be and what would you do? Would it be a family member or a friend? Would you go to a special spot or pick some place where neither of you had been before?
At this stage in my life it would have to be my mom — probably just going to the movies or something. Just hanging out with her is a cool thing. I get to see her so rarely that pretty much doing anything with my mom is always fun.