Paul Dempsey is a pioneer in the Australian music industry with over 20 years of experience as a solo artist, producer and maybe more prominently, the frontman of Something for Kate.
I’ve been listening to Something for Kate for about 16 years. When I was 13 I’d listen to them on my favourite radio station, sitting in the 40 degree Australian sun after school, bopping my teenage worries away to their latest release.
Something for Kate are made up of Paul and his partner Stephanie Ashworth, plus Clint Hyndman, and the band have racked up six studio albums in 20 years, received 11 ARIA award nominations and even supported the legendary Davie Bowie. While still being in a very active band, Dempsey also has a strong solo career to top it off and he’s just released his second record in seven years.
I called Paul the other day, excited on my end of the line because I was about to talk to a man that played a really big part in inspiring me as a teen to write music.
But enough about me.
Dempsey answered the phone, apologising for being out of breath because he’d just landed in Munich, checked into his hotel, ran up four flights of stairs and took my call.
His new album ‘Strange Loop’ has come seven years after the debut ‘Everything is True’. Not because it took him that long to write, in actual fact it took six months. But Paul told me, “a lot has happened since 2009 – I toured in Australia, I moved to New York, made a Something for Kate album, made a short film, a book and then my wife and I had two kids on top of that”. So as you can see it’s been a pretty chill few years for him.
Eventually he got the time to put his head down, and so he reached out to producer and engineer Tom Schick who has worked with the likes of Glen Hansard, Norah Jones and Willie Nelson, to name a few. Tom invited him to record in Wilco’s studio in Chicago and thats where the magic happened.
The opening track on the record ‘The True Sea’, is what Paul is most proud of. It goes for eight minutes and is ”a big sprawling epic song”, on which he played every single instrument, which he explained was a real challenge, but worth it to have had full control over the full song.
Throughout his vast career, Paul has played so many shows it would be hard to count, but there is one that was the pinnacle in his eyes. Back in 2004, Something for Kate toured with the legendary late David Bowie.
”It was obviously incredibly memorable. It was really the highlight of our whole career.”
Going even further back in time, I ask what the first record he owned was. I was actually really surprised to find out it was an Irish record called ‘The Touch of Ireland’ all sung “as Gaeilge”, and recorded by his mum. He remembers his mother and her band recording it, and when the final pressing arrived into his family home it was played on repeat on the record player. It turns out Paul is the only person in his family to be born in Australia – even his two sisters were born in Ireland. So he is particularly exciting to come to Dublin this Friday, not only to perform in The Grand Social, but also to catch up with extended members of his family.
Finally we finish off chatting about feeling shameless if you love a song that others would consider a guilty pleasure.
Paul loves Mariah Carey’s number one hit ‘We Belong Together’. The rest of the band roll their eyes when he plays it in the van, but he has absolutely no shame in saying he really loves it.
”People say guilty pleasures, but there should be no guilt where there is pleasure, if something gives you pleasure then you should not feel guilty about it.”
Catch Paul Dempsey play a rare live show this Friday night in The Grand Social . Tickets and more information available here.