The new season of American Idol doesn’t begin until early next year, but so far, there has been plenty of drama just during the audition phase. Namely, the well-publicized spat between new judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, which was (sort of) refereeed by another new judge, country singer Keith Urban.

Keith, though, isn’t worried about all that business, and during an interview with KFRG in Riverside, Calif. this week, he explaind that it’s just the nature of people learning how to work together in a brand new situation.

“There’s a learning curve in any job, right?” Keith says while en route to Idol auditions in nearby Long Beach. And he sounds as calm, cool, and good-natured about it all as ever. “We’re just getting our grooves. We’re like four people on the dance floor stepping on each other’s toes until we get the hang of it.”

The audition process, too, is taking the judges all over the U.S. He lists off cities they’ve visited already, including New York, Chicago, Baton Rouge, Charlotte, Oklahoma City, and San Antonio. In addition, he says, “Idol also has a bus that goes out even further — South Dakota, Iowa. So for people who can’t get to an audition, a lot of them have lucked into the fact that this bus rolls right into their town.” All told, he says, they’ve sent “well over 200 people to Hollywood already.”

So then the question comes up as to which is busier in his experience so far–Idol or touring?

“Definitely touring,” he says without hesitation. “There’s a lot more things to do. At the same time it’s pretty rewarding, though — getting to get out on stage and play.”

Which Keith will be doing next summer–he just announced dates for his 2013 tour, in fact, in a funny YouTube clip. In the video, Keith and his supporting acts, Little Big Town and Dustin Lynch, are crammed inside a vintage sedan, driving down the highway, singing some classic (or, not-so-classic) pop, rock, and hip-hop tunes.

“We were just trying to think of a song you would never hear any of us sing,” he says of the concept behind the video. “Are you ever going to hear Dustin Lynch sing ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’?”

Never say never, Keith. Because based on his enthusiasm in the video, he just might surprise us all and whip out a full length cover one of these days.

Hear the full Keith Urban interview on Riverside, Calif. station KFRG.

– Kurt Wolff, CBS Local