All going to plan, when Rufus Wainwright jets into Australia next month for his upcoming national tour, he’ll do so as a married man – the singer-songwriter was set to marry his longtime partner Jorn Weisbrodt at their Montauk home on August 23.
But as Wainwright explained to the Star Observer mere weeks out from the date, weddings were the last thing on his mind.
“I wish I could tell you how the wedding plans are coming along, but I’m so wrapped up in touring right now that it’s hard for me to even conceive of the whole concept,” he said.
“I miss my fiance at the moment because I’ve been travelling so much, and I want to see him a little more – that’s where I’m focused at the moment. For me, the whole event’s just a case of ‘don’t forget your lines and don’t bump into the furniture’.”
Given the Australian tour comes just a few weeks after the wedding, will Wainwright and his darkly handsome German beau use it as an opportunity for a honeymoon?
“Well he’s not coming, so it’s not much of a honeymoon! But we have our house on the ocean in New York state where we’re actually getting married, and just being home, being able to use your own bathroom, sleep in your own bed – that’s a honeymoon for me.”
Indeed, Wainwright’s life is made up of a seemingly never-ending roster of tour dates – when we spoke, he was holed up in a hotel room in Portland, Maine, awaiting yet another show. But he said he felt a special connection to Australian audiences dating back to his first visit with his famously musical family.
“Both my family and I made quite an impression years ago when we came for the Leonard Cohen tribute, then we did our family tour, then I did my own shows as well – we spent a good two months bombarding the continent with McGarrigle/Wainwright shenanigans. It’s been a haven ever since.”
Wainwright’s last Australian tour came off the back of arguably his most dark and difficult album to date. 2010’s Songs For Lulu was released in the wake of his mother Kate McGarrigle’s death from cancer, and the resulting tour was a hushed, solemn affair, with audiences even asked not to applaud between songs.
“I do remember performing the show at the Sydney Opera House and it was such a thrilling, sad and daunting experience all at the same time. I think down the line it’ll be remembered as one of the most interesting shows of its time. That being said, I’ve been to the dark side and now I’m ready to open the window and let a little sun in.”
That sun comes courtesy of Wainwright’s stellar new album, Out of the Game. It saw Wainwright unite with producer Mark Ronson, famed for his work with the likes of Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen, to create a warmer, more relaxed sound than albums past.
“Once we went into the studio, we cranked it out pronto and had a fabulous time doing it. We’d play the album every night in bars and have friends come and listen, and it was just a big party. And like any good party, it was brief.”
Much was made of Out of the Game being Wainwright’s ‘pop’ record. For a man who’s spent the better part of his career recording everything from Judy Garland showtunes to foreign operas, it’s certainly his most accessible record to date.
“I wish sometimes I could put on another pair of shoes and dance my way to the top of the charts, but it’s just not who I am. I’m too deeply linked to what I’ve been trying to create all my life, artistically.”
Many have noted the record’s ‘pop’ sound is more suited to another era – be it the Rat Pack sound of the 1960s or the Californian singer-songwriter renaissance of the ‘70s.
Given his aforementioned love of showtunes and opera, does Wainwright ever think he was born in the wrong era?
“I think if I was in another time I wouldn’t be as useful to the present. I enjoy living in this period because I really feel like the world needs me – I mean, look what else they have to choose from. Jesus…”
INFO: Rufus Wainwright will perform at the Sydney Opera House September 9, QPAC Concert Hall (Brisbane) September 12, Hamer Hall (Melbourne) September 15 and 16. Full tour dates at www.rufuswainwright.com