Keith Urban: 'American Idol' 'allows you to keep your real job'

keith-urban-red-carpet-325-nc.jpg Keith Urban is anything but idle these days.

The country-music superstar has been going back and forth to France -- where his Oscar-winning wife Nicole Kidman is filming the title role in "Grace of Monaco" -- in and around traveling to the auditions for Season 12 of FOX's "American Idol," on which he'll be a judge along with fellow series newcomers Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj starting Wednesday, Jan. 16.

And that's not all: He's also making trips to the Nashville studio where he recently began work on his next album; and Wednesday (Nov. 14), he announced his plans for a 2013 North American concert tour. The first leg is scheduled to begin in mid-July in Cincinnati, then conclude at the start of October in West Palm Beach, Fla.

"As best we can, we've been able to navigate through the audition process," the friendly Urban tells Zap2it of scheduling his other current activities around "American Idol" and also looking ahead a year, should he re-up for the show.

"The good thing is that the auditions aren't like weeks and weeks. We'll do two days somewhere, then two days somewhere else, and they're not often strung together. Sometimes, it's been a couple of weeks between cities."

Urban realizes he isn't the first musician to benefit from the way "Idol" production is set up. "I was reading an article about Steven Tyler the other day, and he was saying the same thing. The fortuitousness of the 'Idol' schedule is that it still allows you to keep your real job. Aerosmith was making its latest record while he was doing 'Idol,' because of how the schedule rolls."

As for the album Urban has just started recording -- "I'll be working on it for the next few months" -- the four-time Grammy winner reflects, "I respond, always, to what's going in in my life and where I'm at. Already, there's a particular energy about this record that I don't know how to describe.

"Rhythmically, sonically and melodically, it's a very 'awake' record, and I'm really loving where it's at. I'm not that long a way into it, but there are probably a dozen songs in various forms of completion that I'm really pleased with. I'm anxious to get it all finished."
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