EW talks with country star Keith Urban -- The platinum-selling ''Be Here'' artist talks to us about his music

Keith Urban has legs. After 42 weeks on Billboard‘s top 200 album chart, his latest platinum CD, Be Here, is still in the top 20, thanks to the country chart-topper ”Making Memories of Us.” Next stop en route to crossover dominance: The Aussie star, 38, will appear on CMA Music Festival: Country Music’s Biggest Party, airing Aug. 2 on ABC.

You taped your CMA festival performance in Nashville, then did Live 8 in Philadelphia. Much difference between gigs?

Probably about 700,000 people. But when you’ve got 60,000 people versus closer to a million, it’s kind of semantics, because you only see so many and then it starts to look like some George Lucas CGI-ing.

You’re among the least traditional guys in country. Yet you do play banjo.

I hear it more as a rock instrument. I know that’s weird. [Laughs] If there’s a vision for my music, it’s a rock band with organic instruments. It hearkens back to when I saw John Mellencamp in 1987. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing. Boom — it was an epiphany: ”Oh, right: straight-up bass, drums, and rock guitar, but accordion, fiddle, and acoustic guitars, too.” When I moved to Nashville 13 years ago, what I was doing wasn’t accepted. But now it’s different. Country’s always been a diverse genre. Chet Atkins was almost railroaded out of town for putting strings on a country record; now there’s a street named after him.

You have fanatical female fans. Have you considered ways of balancing the gender ratio — writing misogynistic material, getting into a disfiguring accident?

[Laughs] Yeah, more misogynistic material —that’s a good move. But I’m watching a change in crowds. Especially when it’s college-age kids — it tends to be more evenly split, with more couples. Or maybe it’s guys coming to pick up girls.