Life never slows down for Tim Minchin. Whether he’s whacking on his musician, comedian, composer, actor or theatre hat (sometimes more than one of these at once) the Perth-born, UK-based star is arguably one of the biggest guys in the business at the moment.
Unsurprisingly, it’s taken its toll on him – our interview was delayed by 20 minutes because he forgot to set his alarm. Along with suffering in the sleep department, Minchin has a husky voice from belting out vocals in the UK version of Jesus Christ Superstar, where he is playing the lead role of Judas.
“My voice is trashed man… I don’t know how I’ll go at rehearsals today. I had a bit of a heavy day yesterday, starting with press and ending with doing overdubs for Californication and rehearsals in between, so I kinda lost my shit a bit this morning.”
“I’ll be drinking coffee and pretending to be Judas for the rest of the day.”
Minchin is very familiar with the show, having performed in local versions in Perth in his early 20s.
However, he does admit to facing a couple of challenges this time around due to his heavy workload and the complexities of his role.
“It’s one of the most difficult contemporary parts: you have to be really careful of your voice, which I obviously haven’t done this week because I’ve been doing festivals in between,” he said.
“And then you have to find out a way to kill yourself on stage every night. But I love singing it when my voice is working, and I’m pretty excited by it.”
“It’s just a one in a million show; there’s never been one like it before or since.”
By his own admission, Minchin’s career is “ridiculously good fun” at the moment. Along with starring in the famed rock opera (Jesus Christ Superstar) a play he wrote the music for – the theatre adaption of Roald Dahl’s Matilda – is about to hit Broadway.
He’s also the newest star of hit US drama Californication, and his role alongside David Duchovny is enough to make any red-blooded male jealous with envy.
“Basically I’m just a spoilt rock star who has his own jet, takes loads of cocaine and smashes guitars… stuff like that,” he said.
“Sometimes it’s a bit boring making TV cause there’s a lot of sitting around… but you get used to it and I was doing scenes smoking a spliff on the bed with six models in g-strings and nothing else. So it’s a pretty good job.”
And then there’s what made him a breakout star – his unique brand of musical comedy. After playing a series of festivals in Europe with a live band, he’s bringing that experience Down Under for local fans in December as one of the main drawcards at this year’s Homebake festival in Sydney.
It’s a chance for punters to see him in a different light after a sell-out tour with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra at the beginning of this year.
“I’ve got this cool band and we’ve figured out how to make my comedy more of a rock gig,” he said. “So it will be more like a traditional festival set – just more piss-take than a traditional band.”
“We’ve found a good festival way of doing my songs, so I reckon we’re gonna smash it. And the kids are going crazy for it, which is great.”
Those hoping to see Minchin somewhere other than Homebake are out of luck – he won’t be doing any sideshows on this visit.
That is, unless you’re on the guestlist at his sister’s wedding or the wedding of one of his best mates.
“My sister is getting married in Perth, and then one of my best friends is getting married in Melbourne. So I’m pretty much doing Homebake and the wedding circuit this Christmas.”
And there’s more bad news for those of you hanging out for Minchin to write another Confessions or The Pope Song – all his other exploits are stopping him from writing new material.
“The trouble with all this awesome fun I’m having and doing other things is that I’m not writing any new material at the moment,” he said.
“I’d love to tour again with my solo stuff as soon as possible, but I’m writing songs for a Dreamworks movie, then I’m writing another musical, and then I’m doing a play in Australia next year too, which I can’t really tell you much about because it hasn’t been announced yet.”
“I fully intend to write another show and tour again. It’s just a matter of when; it might not be for a couple more years now.”
Minchin admits that he’s probably at the peak of his career right now – and life as a multitasking artist is pretty sweet. But it’s not a lifestyle that he’s unfamiliar with, nor is it one he set out to achieve at such lofty heights.
“My whole obsession is with variety and when I was in my 20s and no one was giving a shit about what I was doing, I was still composing and playing in original bands and acting and singing and doing lots of different things,” he said.
“I just got very lucky, and when I found comedy, people started listening to me and I’ve been able to sort of start going back to doing all the things I’ve always loved doing.
“I wasn’t a hugely ambitious person, I just wanted to work really, and I’m living the dream in that it’s worked out even better than I ever possibly could have imagined.”
Tim Minchin plays at Homebake on December 8 at the Sydney Botanical Gardens. For all the information on the festival, click here.