Although he is probably better known as frontman for successful Aussie rock band Something For Kate, Paul Dempsey has also forged himself a promising career as a solo artist..
His first solo album ‘Everything is True’ debuted at number 5 on the Australian Record Industry charts and was nominated for five Aria Awards. It went gold in the same year and was rated one of the best albums of 2009 by Rolling Stone magazine.
It is a touch surprising then that he chose to record an album of other people’s songs for his second outing, but to appreciate Dempsey’s music it is important to appreciate the man who sings it.
His easy – going approach to his passion is reflected in his choices, and it was from just a bit of goofing around that the seeds to ‘Shotgun Karaoke’ were sewn.
“Last year when Something For Kate were on tour we would do our soundchecks in the afternoon and afterwards we would just be waiting around the venue so I would grab my acoustic guitar and start playing,” Dempsey explained. “Then someone in the band would throw a random challenge at me to play a song and the challenge was I had to play that song on the spot without any rehearsal or any time to learn it. The most I was allowed to do was print the lyrics off the internet and I’d just stand there on the spot and bash it out in one take and one of the guys would film it on their I Phone and pop it on – line and that became the challenge at every show and that’s how I chose the songs for the album. It was very, very spur of the moment, very impulsive, and I guess that’s why there’s such an eclectic mix of songs on there.”
And eclectic is the right word. Dempsey acoustically covers songs from Bad Religion, Queen, INXS and You Am I among others, with only the imaginations of his band mates limiting the choices.
“The tour was 17 shows so I ended up doing 17 covers and when the tour was finished I just went into the studio one afternoon and basically did the same thing – set up live and bashed them all out in one take – and we ended up with 11 or 12 songs for the album because to be quite honest the other five of them didn’t sound that great,” he laughed.
There is obviously a big difference to playing on stage with a full band and standing out front with just an acoustic guitar for company, but Dempsey is quick to deflect any notion that solo gigs are anything but hard work.
“Because it’s just me I get to call all the shots and do things my way,” he enthused. “I don’t have to discuss anything with anyone and I can be completely self indulgent, so it’s obviously satisfying from that point of view. I can totally do my own thing and go off on whatever tangent I feel like and it’s alot of fun as well because when you’re on stage by yourself you can go your own pace. You’re not worried that the rest of the band is waiting for you to shut up and start the next song so you can just talk to the audience or have a joke. It’s just alot more casual but at the same time when you actually are playing songs you get to hear yourself perfectly because you are not competing with drums and amplifiers and all the rest of it. It’s actually alot more intimate because you can get really, really super quiet but you can also belt it out and scream the rafters down if you want to.”
For his upcoming, one off solo show at the Tanks, Dempsey said he will be playing a mixture of songs from his first solo album, as well as songs from ‘Shotgun Karaoke’ and a selection of Something For Kate favorites, but if you have any songs in mind you’d like to hear him sing, politely throw them out there.
“People are always yelling stuff out,” he said, “and alot of the time I’ll say ‘yeah okay’ and just go straight into it.”
You never know, he might just accept your challenge.
– Kris Peters
Paul Dempsey plays the Tanks on Sat 23rd May 2014
COST: $35 / $30 (CONC)
DOORS / BAR: 6:30pm
SHOW STARTS: 7.30pm
VENUE: Tank 5 – Limited Seating / Standing
Ticketlink www.ticketlink.com.au or phone 1300 855 835