Paul Dempsey

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This article is about the musician. For the sports presenter, see Paul Dempsey (presenter).
Paul Dempsey
A thirty-year-old man is playing a six-string electric guitar while singing into a microphone.
Dempsey on guitar and vocals, September 2006
Background information
Birth name Paul Anthony Dempsey
Born (1976-05-25) 25 May 1976 (age 38)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Genres Alternative rock, Australian rock, folk
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Guitar, vocals, bass, keyboards, drums
Years active 1994–present
Labels Sony/BMG, EMI
Associated acts Something for Kate, Scared of Horses, Give Goods, T-Rek

Paul Anthony Dempsey (born 25 May 1976) is an Australian musician. He is the lead singer, guitarist and principal lyricist of rock group, Something for Kate. Dempsey released a solo album, Everything Is True, on 20 August 2009 which peaked at No. 5 on the ARIA Albums Chart. His second album, Shotgun Karaoke (4 October 2013), reached No. 17. He has also produced and co-written albums for other artists. In 2006 he married Stephanie Ashworth (ex-Sandpit), who is Something for Kate's bass guitarist. Dempsey has had bouts of clinical depression and periods of writer's block. Australian musicologist, Ian McFarlane, noted that he "has the capacity to lay his soul bare through his music, there is little pretence or adherence to fashionable measures in the band’s delivery".[1]

Early years[edit]

Paul Anthony Dempsey was born on 25 May 1976 and grew up in Melbourne.[2][3] His father, Charlie Dempsey (born 7 November 1937),[4] and mother, Gillian (née Barrington, born 25 May 1944)[4] were recent Irish immigrants when Charlie died in a car accident; Dempsey was one-year-old and "too young to remember".[5][6] He and his three older sisters, including Gillian "Jill" (born 1964) and Moira (born 1967),[4] were raised by his mother and grandmother.[6] Initially learning piano from his grandmother, he switched to guitar at eight, and later taught himself to play drums.[5] For his final years of secondary schooling he attended Padua College on the Mornington Peninsula, where he was interested in playing basketball.[3]

Something for Kate[edit]

In mid-1994, six months after leaving Padua College, Paul Dempsey, on lead guitar and lead vocals, formed Something for Kate in Melbourne with school friend, Clint Hyndman on drums.[1][7] They soon recruited Julian Carroll on bass guitar,[1] by advertising in local record stores.[3] Initially named Fish of the Day, in September, after a gig at the Punter's Club, the group were renamed for Dempsey's Jack Russell dog, Kate.[3] They played two shows before they released a demo tape in 1995.[3] In early 1996 they were signed to Sony subsidiary label Murmur Records,[1] by A&R representative Chris Dunn: all members were 19-years-old.[3]

Something for Kate released their debut extended play ....The Answer to Both Your Questions in May 1996 and followed with their debut single, "Dean Martin" in October.[1] Dempsey wrote or co-wrote all the tracks.[2][3][1] The band travelled to New Zealand to record their first album, Elsewhere for Eight Minutes (August 1997).[1]'s Greg Lawrence described it as displaying the "depth of emotional range at the disposal of songwriter and singer Paul Dempsey. [It] features such tracks as 'Working Against Me' and 'Captain (Million Miles An Hour)' and is a crucial initial chapter in the story of this important Australian band".[8]

Carroll left in early 1998 to be replaced on bass guitar by Toby Ralph (ex-Lobtailing) for a month and more permanently by Stephanie Ashworth (ex-Sandpit).[1] In an interview with Lawrence, Ashworth stated that Dempsey's lyrics dealt with "getting control of your situation and doing something about it; being proactive. It's about not being apathetic about what's bothering you and taking charge of your situation".[8] She described his early playing "he's a drummer, first and foremost and he actually taught Clint to play the drums. So he comes from playing the guitar from a really percussive perspective".[8]

Their second album, Beautiful Sharks (7 June 1999), which peaked in the top 10 on the ARIA Albums Chart.[9] It earned an ARIA Award nomination for Best Alternative Release,[10] and a Music Critics' Award for Best Australian Album and Best Australian Live Band. Echolalia (22 June 2001), the band's third album reached No. 2.[9] Dempsey was voted the Best Male Vocalist by readers of Rolling Stone magazine's Australian edition. The album, and associated material, were nominated for six ARIA Awards for 2001.[11] It subsequently shipped more than 140,000 copies, thereby attaining double platinum status.

Dempsey began suffering writer's block[3] and depression[12] and toured the US and Europe with the band while he tried to write lyrics for the band's fourth album. It was not until 2003 that The Official Fiction was released. The album debuted at number 1 on the Australian chart and Dempsey's lyrics revealed a sense of anger at the political events of the time.[citation needed]

In 2005, after another bout of writer's block and debilitating depression,[citation needed] Dempsey and the band were based in Los Angeles, US to work on their fifth album Desert Lights. The album was released in 2006 and again debuted at number 1 on the ARIA Album Chart in July.[13]

The sixth SFK album Leave Your Soul to Science was released in early 2013 and the band commenced a national Australian tour in support of the album in June 2013. Dempsey revealed his ongoing enthusiasm for live performance prior to the tour: "I enjoy getting out and playing more than ever. I get more impatient and frustrated that I can't do it more often."[14]

Solo career[edit]

In 2007, Dempsey began writing for his solo debut; meanwhile he also produced an album, The Gleaner, for Melbourne singer-songwriter Brendan Welch. Dempsey played a variety of instruments on several of Melbourne dance artist T-Rek albums, and contributed keyboards for local band, The Nation Blue's album, Protest Songs.

Recording was completed for Dempsey's album, Everything Is True, in April 2009 in Los Angeles with mix engineer-producer, Doug Boehm. The first single, "Out the Airlock", was briefly offered as a free download on his website before being released through iTunes on 15 May 2009 and the album was officially released on 14 August 2009, peaking at No. 5 on the ARIA Albums Chart.[15] Dempsey or the album were nominated for three ARIA Awards in 2009: Best Male Artist, Best Adult Contemporary Album, and Producer of the Year.[16] As well as a Triple J Award for Best Australian Album of 2009. It was named iTunes Album of the Year for 2009, voted by Triple J listeners as one of the Top 10 albums of 2009, earned him The Age '​s EG Music Award for Best Male (voted by the public)[17] and named as one of the Best Albums of 2009 by Rolling Stone magazine.

Following the release of his solo album, Dempsey and his wife, Ashworth, relocated to New York, United States, for two years in 2010.[14] While in the US, Dempsey formed a backing band, but also performed solo shows; in a June 2013 interview, Dempsey explained:

In our two years in New York I think I played more shows in that two years than I had in the previous 10. I felt like I was being what I regard as a working musician, actually going out and playing music every night or several nights a week. As someone who's been doing it for nearly 20 years, I think it is important to put yourself in situations where you feel like you're doing it for the first time and you still have something to prove to an audience and—most importantly—to yourself.[14]

Other projects[edit]

In 1998, he recorded an album with other musicians as a side project under the name "Scared of Horses", for which he wrote all songs. In 2003 he also produced and played drums, bass, guitar and keyboards on The Givegoods' 2003 album I Want to Kill a Rich Man, the side project for Tom Morgan and Evan Dando (from the Lemonheads).

In late 1997 Dempsey has filled in as a guitarist for Brisbane band Fur, and Perth-based band Ammonia.[18] He also played drums for two shows with Bluebottle Kiss and drums in his sister's band, John Smith. In 2007, Dempsey co-wrote & produced the album, "The Gleaner" for Australian singer/songwriter, Brendan Welch.

In April 2010, Dempsey produced and mixed the third studio EP, Heavy Harm (released on 13 August 2010), by Sydney rock band, Papa VS Pretty.[19]

In October 2011, Dempsey performed with the Black Arm Band, Archie Roach, Mavis Staples, Ricki Lee Jones and Joss Stone in 'Notes From the Hard Road and Beyond" as part of the Melbourne Festival at The Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Paul played guitar and performed a duet with Joss Stone also singing with Mavis Staples and a version of A Hard Rains Gonna Fall with Shane Howard.[20]


Dempsey appeared as a panellist on RocKwiz on 24 February 2007, performing a solo version of "Monsters" and George Michael's "Careless Whisper" with Kate Miller-Heidke. He also appeared on Good News Week on 26 October 2009, performing the song "Fire" by Bruce Springsteen as part of the "Strange But True" segment.[21] Dempsey appeared on RocKwiz again on Sat June 8 performing a solo version of "Survival Expert" from Something for Kate's album, "Leave Your Soul to Science" and Hall & Oates "Out of Touch" with Emily Lubitz.

Personal life[edit]

A 32-year-old woman is playing a four-string electric bass guitar.
Stephanie Ashworth, on bass guitar with Something for Kate, April 2006. Dempsey and Ashworth were married in Las Vegas during 2005.[6]

Dempsey has suffered bouts of clinical depression[12] and has also complained about periods of writer's block.[3] In a 2010 interview he explained:

I think a lot of people who suffer from depression feel guilty. They feel like being selfish, they feel like they shouldn't talk about it because they sound like they are whining. I think it is important to not be like that and talk about it, so that people think that it is OK to talk about it. If anybody sees me talking about it and therefore thinks that it is alright for them to talk to their friends about it, than that is a good thing. I get a lot of emails and a lot of letters from people who tell me that they are going through the same thing or that they had battles with depression as well and that it gave them some sort of strength or consolation to know that someone else that they respect goes through that as well. It is a lot of people! It is one in five people in Australia.[12]

In 2005, Dempsey married band mate and long-term domestic partner, Stephanie Ashworth in Las Vegas, Nevada.[6] They are parents to a son, Miller, who was born in May 2011.[22][23][24] In 2010, the couple had relocated to New York, US for two years and Dempsey revealed his intention to return to the American city in a June 2013 interview.[14]




Extended plays[edit]

  • Counterfeits and Forgeries –(2009)
  • We'll Never Work In This Town Again – EMI (1 October 2010)
  • iTunes Live from Sydney EP – EMI (16 October 2009)


  • "Out the Airlock" – EMI (15 May 2009)
  • "Ramona was a Waitress" – EMI (9 August 2009)
  • "Fast Friends" – EMI (20 November 2009)
  • "Bats" – EMI (5 March 2010)

with Scared of Horses[edit]

with Something for Kate[edit]

with The Give Goods[edit]

  • I Want to Kill a Rich Man – (2003)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h McFarlane, 'Something for Kate' entry. Archived from the original on 6 August 2004. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  2. ^ a b "'Back to Normal' at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 23 February 2014.  Note: User may have to click 'Search again' and provide details at 'Enter a title:' e.g Back to Normal; or at 'Performer:' Something for Kate
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kingsmill, Richard (2002). "Something for Kate". The J Files Compendium. Sydney, NSW: ABC Books. pp. 273–6. ISBN 0-7333-1066-4. 
  4. ^ a b c "NameSearch Results". National Archives of Australia. 27 May 2003. Retrieved 24 February 2014. "Title: DEMPSEY Charles John born 7 November 1937; Gillian (nee Barrington) born 25 May 1944; Gillian born 21 October 1964; Moira born 12 May 1967 – Irish" 
  5. ^ a b Harris, Craig. "Paul Dempsey | Biography". Allmusic (All Media Network). Retrieved 23 February 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d Murfett, Andrew (21 August 2009). "The Measured Minstrel". The Age (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 23 February 2014. 
  7. ^ "There's Something about Kate". Sydney Morning Herald. 12 September 2003. Retrieved 2 September 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c Lawrence, Greg (11 August 2003). "Something for Kate". WHAMMO Interviews. Worldwide Home of Australasian Music and More Online (WHAMMO). Archived from the original on 12 August 2004. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Hung, Steffen. "Discography Something for Kate". Australian Charts Portal. Hung Medien (Steffen Hung). Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  10. ^ "ARIA Awards – History: Winners by Year 1999". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  11. ^ "ARIA Awards – History: Winners by Year 2001". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  12. ^ a b c Austrade (9 June 2010). "Paul Dempsey, The Austrade Interview". Undercover. Undercover. Retrieved 2 September 2012. 
  13. ^ "Something For Kate Switch On Australia: 'Desert Lights' Debuts At #1". BanditFM at Sanity. Sanity. 11 July 2006. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  14. ^ a b c d Simon Collins (3 June 2013). "A tale of two cities for Dempsey". The West Australian. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  15. ^ a b c Hung, Steffen. "Discography Paul Dempsey". Australian Charts Portal. Hung Medien (Steffen Hung). Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  16. ^ novanation (2009). "PAUL DEMPSEY". novanation. dmgRadio Australia. Retrieved 2 September 2012. 
  17. ^ "Solo project a chance to showcase the pure Paul". Australian Times (London). 26 April 2010. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  18. ^ McFarlane, 'Ammonia' entry. Archived from the original on 3 August 2004. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  19. ^ Papa Vs Pretty (2010). "Recording EP with Paul Dempsey - VBlog 1". Vimeo. Vimeo, LLC. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ HoneypotExplosion (4 November 2009). "Good News Week - Strange But True - Paul Dempsey". YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  22. ^ Newstead, Al (10 October 2012). "We chat with Paul Dempsey of Something For Kate". Tone Deaf. Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  23. ^ Fallon, Naomi (4 October 2012). "Back where they belong". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  24. ^ Adams, Cameron (7 July 2011). "Something For Kate's Paul Dempsey". Herald Sun. Retrieved 29 May 2013.