After the catfight-filled dramafest that was Season 12, things are a lot more harmonious at American Idol now, as Keith Urban can attest. As the only returning judge from last year, the Aussie country star is enjoying newfound camaraderie with Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. while balancing his Idol responsibilities, music career and family life with wife of seven years Nicole Kidman and their two daughters, Sunday Rose and Faith Margaret.
YourTango: As the sole survivor from last season, how would describe the Idol vibe now?
Keith Urban: It's just fluid, it's very easy to do. To use a dancing metaphor, they're great dance partners.
YourTango: Did you know them before?
Keith Urban: I never met Harry until one night on American Idol when I brought him up to my seat. Jen, I met her once at an awards show backstage in passing but I never sat down and talked with her.
YourTango: How does it compare to last season?
Keith Urban: They're totally different. There's a synergy that I found with these guys the very first night. There's a fluidity about the way we do what we do; it's because we all have a similar heart. We have a very shared spirit, Ryan and Randy as well. We're in it for the same reason. And we respond in a very similar way.
YourTango: As the newbie, what does Harry bring to the table?
Keith Urban: He brings a level of expertise and articulation that is really appreciated by me, and in the process everybody is gonna learn about the specific intricacies of singing and musicianship and playing. But I think he does it in a way that's very enlightening and educational, not dull.
YourTango: Have you put your music plans on hold?
Keith Urban: No, we're knee deep into a tour that started in July. I'd play on nights that we weren't doing the audition cities. We just resumed our tour again and we're starting a Canadian tour in Vancouver and go all across Canada.
YourTango: Do Nicole and the girls come along?
Keith Urban: Usually I'll do the show and fly home. We live in Nashville. It's a lot of flying.
YourTango: Will they come out to L.A. for the live shows?
Keith Urban: Yes. Nic is in Morocco right now shooting a film, Queen of the Desert, and then she'll be starting a film in Australia called Strangerland. The girls are on their way here and I'm taking them on tour with me. They love it. And then they'll fly to Morocco with me to visit Mum. Then they'll stay with her. We'd prefer to stay together, of course.
YourTango: What's the best thing about fatherhood?
Keith Urban: It's everything. I could never put that into a single answer. I think my wife would say it's the expansion of the heart. For me, the great thing about kids is they keep you present. They keep you now. Young or old, they keep you now.
YourTango: What keeps your marriage strong and solid?
Keith Urban: We just work at it. We love each other and we work at it. It's beautiful work.
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Photo: Frank Micelotta/FOX