As Paul Dempsey prepares for his first solo record in six years, the Something For Kate frontman, who’ll be road-testing new songs this month at festivals in Newcastle and the Mornington Peninsula, admits he can be sceptical when it comes to instant connections to new songs by fans.
“It’s great, but I can’t help but be a bit suspicious. It’s just my nature to go, ‘Yeah, wow that’s great – they really liked that.’ And then I go, ‘Why? Why did they like it?’ Then I worry about it a little bit.
“It’s also funny these days, news travels at the speed of social media. You play a song for the first time in one city and then you play in a different city the next weekend and there are people singing the words to it, so that’s a new thing too.”
The acclaimed singer/songwriter has had a hectic few years. Dempsey relocated to New York for a period, became a first-time parent with wife (and SFK bandmate) Stephanie Ashworth, and Something For Kate celebrated their 20th anniversary last year.
Dempsey says he’s sure all of those experiences will translate into songs for the new solo record, which he hopes will be released in the second half of the year.
“It really has been a busy time, and it feels like it’s just getting busier and it’s not just from becoming a parent but also the band. I guess since I did my first solo record I’ve kind of started like two music careers all at once.
“I’m really lucky that I have these two sides. I still get to play with my two best friends and turn everything up and make a racket. Then I get to go and do this other thing where I just go and be me with my acoustic guitar.”
Dempsey also feels like he’s matured as a songwriter.
“I think when we started out we were running on just the total, youthful exuberance and just wanting to make a racket and scream your guts out. It was just this sort of cathartic venting of youthful energy.
“As you get older, you express yourself differently and your brain enters into it. You start to make decisions about the things that you want to express and share, what you want to touch on and the way that you would hope to effect people with your songwriting.”
He continues: “As time goes on you become wary of familiar territory so you’re always trying to somehow grapple your way to something new or an area that you haven’t been to before.”
There have been many shining moments throughout Dempsey’s career. When asked what his personal highlight may be, his response reinforces just how humble and down to earth this man is.
“It’s all a highlight. I don’t want to sound like a dick but it’s just a highlight to be able to do this as a career. It’s a privilege to be a working musician in this country because it’s not easy. I just feel really lucky for all of it.”