Exclusive Interview: Natalie Imbruglia & Doug Dearth on Underdogs

Natalie Imbruglia and the director of the new drama discuss sports movies and the past, present and future of her music career.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

You mentioned “Glee.” As much as it must be frustrating that kids haven’t heard a 10-year-old song before, what has it done for you to be a song on “Glee?”

Natalie Imbruglia: Oh, I thought it was fantastic. It was really exciting. I didn’t even know. I just had friends start calling me and showing me. I just noticed that off the back of that, it was getting played a lot more. People tell me. I just start getting lots and lots of texts from everybody saying, “I just walked into a shop” and literally around that time, it was just being played everywhere. So it’s just lovely. It’s lovely when a song can be timeless like that and relate to younger people and another generation. It’s nothing but flattering.

Doug Dearth: It’s funny, one of the young kids that’s 17 who plays Jamal in the movie, he’s really into music. I was like, “What kind of music do you like?” He’s like, “I like all kinds of music. I really like the classics, like the stuff from the ‘90s.” I was like oh, I’m getting old.

Natalie Imbruglia: Classics? Really.

Doug Dearth: Now remember, he’s 17 years old but still made me feel very old.

Natalie Imbruglia: That’s so funny.

Don’t they have to contact you to clear the music on “Glee?”

Natalie Imbruglia: They don’t contact me directly. They contact my team, but no, I don’t know how that all went down because I didn’t hear about it. I think my team would be pretty sure I’m going to say yes on that one.

Speaking of acoustics, was it nice to hear a very different arrangement from the “Glee” chorus?

Natalie Imbruglia: I did watch it. It was very “Glee.”

You mentioned your first single was a huge hit, but what are some of your other songs you’d like your fans to discover more?

Natalie Imbruglia: Well, I really love my second album, White Lilies Island. I love all my albums for different reasons really. Counting Down the Days has a lot of good tunes on it as well. I’m proud of all the stuff I’ve done thus far. I don’t usually put an album out unless I get to a place where I’m really, really happy with it, and then I kind of let it go and it’s for everybody else at that point.

I bet each song would have a story behind it, not just the singles.

Natalie Imbruglia: Absolutely, I love storytelling songs. I write about absolutely everything, personal relationships or just life in general. And I’ve worked with so many different people. That’s what I love about collaborating. It’s changing environments or countries and working with different people brings out different sides to you and different colors for the songs and moods. Yeah, something for everybody.

What’s next for each of you in the film world?

Doug Dearth: Well, I’ve got the one I just teased you about. We haven’t written the script yet but I’ve also got a little bit of a change from a family film. It’s kind of a psychological thriller called Three Dog Night. It’s based on an Australian novel. We are in the process of now of getting some cast together to get our financing. It’s kind of a difficult road in the independent film world but in a perfect world, we’ll be shooting that this fall. Underdogs is my first feature film. I’ve come from acting and documentaries, so right now, thank goodness for Underdogs, I’m starting to get busy on the feature side so I’m excited about that. Then Natalie and I are talking about doing some stuff together with one of her charities that we’re very excited about, so we’re in the process of putting that together as well.

Natalie Imbruglia: Yeah, that should be a fun documentary we want to make. I don’t have anything solid in the pipeline acting-wise. I’m reading scripts but mainly focusing on my songwriting at this point, and hopefully putting this thing together with Doug. It’s a bit early to talk about it.

What charity is that?

Natalie Imbruglia: It’s an organization, basically the UNFPA heads up the Campaign to End Fistula. It’s a condition that women suffer from in the developing world when they have obstructed labor. If you want to find out about it you can go to endfistula.org and read up on it. They have a really tough time so we just try to raise awareness and funds to give surgery to the women who are suffering with this condition, but also educate and raise awareness.

Doug Dearth: We’re just toying with some ideas. We don’t have anything in the pipeline. We’re just toying with some ideas how we could help.

Have you gotten into football now and do you have a team?

Natalie Imbruglia: I wouldn’t say I got into it. I understand it a bit better. I don’t have a team yet. I need to pick one though.

So the scenes where you’re watching the game and cheering, you could understand what you’re cheering for?

Natalie Imbruglia: Yes. It was explained to me what was happening, but as a general rule, if I went to a game I’d probably be a little bit lost and asking lots of questions. It’s so violent when they get tackled though. I’ve got a little bit of a light stomach for that.

Doug Dearth: Coming from an Australian who has Australian rules rugby.

Natalie Imbruglia: At least they’ve got more padding in America. This is true. I can’t even watch Australian rules rugby.

Lastly, what music are you listening to right now?

Natalie Imbruglia: I just watched a band in New York called Here We Go Magic which I think is brilliant. The singer gave me some demos of some new stuff he’s working on that he recorded in the studio with my friend. So I’ve been listening to that, and that’s about it really. Some African rock n’ roll music that I had that somebody put together a mix tape. Very eclectic. Neko Case I’ve been listening to. I like her. 

Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline and the man behind Shelf Space Weekly. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.