Keith Urban talks about his new song ‘Wild Hearts’ and his new signature guitar
When a young Keith Urban wanted to learn a new song on the guitar, he needed to hear it in slow motion. Literally.
“When I first started playing I was slowing down records with my finger,” Urban told the Tennessean with a laugh. “Learn the ‘Sultans of the Swing’ over the hours and days, mastering every note.”
Urban first bought a guitar – a three-quarter-size Suzuki acoustic with nylon strings, he said – when he was six. He instantly fell in love with the sounds, smells and endless possibilities that awaited him.
Since then he has built worlds inside songs and conquered the stages behind the six-string instrument. Urban cut his teeth as a teenager playing Australian clubs almost every night before rolling the dice on a transcontinental career in Nashville and making his way to becoming one of country music’s most recognizable artists. modern.
And he knows that things look little different for today’s young potential players. Aspiring players don’t need to work on a turntable when YouTube can break down chord progressions, and hands-on websites can teach strumming techniques.
Today, Urban is teaming up with Yamaha to launch an affordable acoustic guitar and mobile app that connects potential players to video lessons from the four-time Grammy-winning artist.
In a new interview with the Tennessean, Urban discussed the project, as well as his new single “Wild Hearts” – a semi-autobiographical issue dedicated to “drifters and all dreamers”, like those who pick up a guitar with ambition. burning. – and his return to performances in Las Vegas this weekend.
Read the conversation highlights below.
On ‘Wild Hearts’
On “Wild Hearts”, Urban offers his interpretation of country-tinged country strumming rock and a chorus for the aforementioned “… drifters, and all ready-to-fly dreamers / All those born to be rock stars / Levant their guitars and paint the sky. ”
Why write a song for “all wild hearts like mine?” ”
“Why not?” said Urbain. “It’s a song that, for me, really spoke about my own trip, especially coming from a small town in Australia, with my eyes on Nashville because it was written on the back of my records. father.”
He continued, “From a young age I think about seven or eight years old when I started reading the credits on the album, each one of them said, ‘Recorded in Nashville, Tennessee’. I went, (expletive) yeah, that’s where you’re gonna make records. This is where I’m gonna go. No plan, no schedule, nothing. Just “I’m gonna do this someday.” And that was all. It was deeply ingrained in my DNA. ”
And Urban sets the scene for “Wild Hearts” by singing his own experience. The song opens with a spotlight on Johnny Cash as Urban watched his father join a room full of spectators in love with the “Ring of Fire” singer.
Urban sings: “I saw the man in black / Spotlights in the air / I heard a thousand screams / I saw my father staring at me.”
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His first gig, Urban, five, saw Cash with his father at a boxing gym in Brisbane, Australia.
“I remember loud, happy, loud people – obviously drunk – thousands of people,” Urban said, adding, “Every part of that sensory overload is ingrained in me, I’m sure.”
On new guitar, lesson application
Now, he conveys fiery ambition at a young age by teaching those who can pursue a similar dream.
Yamaha released the “URBAN” guitar on Thursday, an acoustic model where players can learn by watching Urban and fellow musician JUNO teach basic songs and practices through an accompanying mobile app.
Guitar makers have approached Urban before to develop a signature model, but it never interested him because “I don’t feel like there’s anything to add. of inventions, settings or original concepts that I can bring to the guitar. ”
“I just wasn’t interested in putting my name on something,” Urban said. “And then my manager said to me, ‘What would you like to do with the guitar? “And I said getting people to play would be the first thing.”
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He added, “Seeing people spending tons of money on guitar just to find out if they want to play is ridiculous,” Urban said. “I’m sure we can build an affordable, high quality guitar that feels great when you pick it up.”
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The app guides users through tuning, chords and strumming strokes. Tutorial songs include “Old Town Road”, “Bad Moon Rising” and “Cop Car” from Urban.
New players should practice patience, Urban said.
“Go at your own pace, don’t try to rush too far,” Urban said. “[Getting] an idea of what you are doing. And if you feel like carrying on with that, carry on with that. ”
Return to Las Vegas
Urban brings “Wild Hearts” to a stage this weekend when the artist returns to the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for a five-show tour that spans two weekends in September.
Urban first kicked off a series of performances in Vegas at the end of 2019, before being derailed with live music crippled by COVID-19 early last year. He was reluctant to bring his show to a Las Vegas venue, but found the Colosseum – with a large stage, open club floor, and tiered theater seating – to be an ideal fit.
“I was like ‘this is an arena, a club, a theater… all in one room’, it’s going to be amazing,” said Urban. “I was in love from the very first show.”
He can’t get out of the room without playing “Blue Ain’t Your Color” or “The Fighter”, and he will debut with “The Speed of Now Part 1”, an album he doesn’t own. still played on stage. .
Still, audiences can expect something a little different each time Urban takes the stage.
“The setlist will be malleable enough – to see what flows, to be able to be in the moment,” said Urban. “I love that there is a setlist and I love to structure a show, but I always have spaces throughout for spontaneity. Real, real spontaneity. So it’s different every night.”