Even Rick Springfield is surprised that his latest album -- "Venus in Overdrive" -- has charted higher than his 1982 breakthrough record "Working Class Dog."
The latter spawned the hit singles "I've Done Everything for You," "Love is Alright Tonite" and, of course, "Jessie's Girl." As well known for his singing as his tall, angular good looks, Springfield is back on the road to promote "Venus."
"My wife loves that I'm on the road -- it keeps our relationship fresh," says Springfield, 59. "If I'm home too long, she'll say, 'Aren't you supposed to be out on the road?' It has worked for us for 24 years, so I'm not looking to change things up for a long time."
Born in Australia and currently a resident (and citizen) of the United States, the Grammy Award-winning singer counts traveling as one of the perks of his job. He got to spend three weeks back in Oz recently and says he can't wait to get back to Hawaii. ("I can imagine living in Maui one day," he says.) But one of his favorite destinations is New Zealand.
WHY NEW ZEALAND: I spent quite a bit of time in the 1990s working on (the TV series "High Tide") and got to see a lot of the country. We went to different locations all the time and I did a lot of sightseeing, too. New Zealand holds a lot of special memories for me.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEN AND NOW: I was in Auckland in 1972, actually, and went to America from there. Back then it was like a one-horse town. It was funky and great, but it seemed very small. The town was backwoods with country for acres and acres. Then when I went back in 1991, it had changed so much. It was so cosmopolitan. It's a small country, but has so many different aspects to it. I filmed "High Tide" in New Zealand. I played a cop who surfed -- and my character would go to different countries all the time. One minute he was in England, the next in France, then he was in America. New Zealand was the perfect place to be when you need a lot of different locations each week.
STAYING FIT ON THE ROAD: Our favorite thing to do is go out to a nice restaurant and try to eat really well, because otherwise you're just a rat in a hotel. I try to work out in the hotel gym for at least half an hour. And I get quite the workout on stage every night as well. I'm one of those people who has to make sure I eat enough or I get too thin, so I've got to work out to keep some shape on me.
ONE BAG OR TWO: I travel real light because I fly everywhere and it's so hard to carry a lot of stuff.
SOUVENIRS: I've traveled so much that it's not a big deal for me to bring home a souvenir anymore. But I always try to bring home all the things that the fans give me. Sometimes they give me so many things that I have to have those shipped home separately. They give me a lot of toys, and I donate those to hospitals and kids' organizations. But my fans' tastes are getting better and better all the time. I wear a lot of the T-shirts and necklaces they give me. TMZ nailed me for wearing a $10 shirt from Target that a fan had given me. It was a nice shirt!
BACK HOME: I grew up in Melbourne and went back a couple months ago. I was walking down the street and saw Indian people and turned a corner and saw the Korean neighborhood and then I walked down an alley and it was like being in Little Italy. Australia has always been a big melting pot of cultures and I love that about it. Sydney is like the pretty older sister that everyone looks at and goes, "Wow!" But Melbourne is amazing. It's more of an art city and has an almost ethnic feel.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT NEW ZEALAND:
LARGEST CITY: Auckland.
LANGUAGES SPOKEN: English, Maori.
CURRENCY: New Zealand Dollar. $1 US equals NZ$ 1.53.
TIME DIFFERENCE: If it's noon Monday in Chicago, it's 5 a.m. Tuesday in Auckland.
For more information on New Zealand, go to www.newzealand.com/USA/. To read more about Rick Springfield, his album "Venus in Overdrive" and his current tour, check out www.rickspringfield.com.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her Website at www.jaehakim.com. She welcomes your questions and comments.)