Paul Dempsey

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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 namePaul Anthony Dempsey
Born (1976-05-25) 25 May 1976 (age 43)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
GenresAlternative rock, Australian rock, folk
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals, bass, keyboards, drums
Years active1994–present
LabelsSony/BMG, EMI
Associated actsSomething 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. He has also produced and co-written albums for other artists, including Mosman Alder.

Dempsey has experienced bouts of clinical depression and periods of writer's block, both of which have been publicised. 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]

In 2006 he married Stephanie Ashworth (ex-Sandpit), who is Something for Kate's bass guitarist. In November 2014, Dempsey said that his all-time favorite band is Fugazi.

Early years[edit]

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. Charlie died in a car accident when 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]

After initially learning piano from his grandmother, Dempsey switched to guitar when he was 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, Dempsey, on lead guitar and lead vocals, formed Something for Kate in Melbourne, Australia, with schoolfriend Clint Hyndman on drums.[1][7] They soon recruited Julian Carroll to play bass guitar[1] by advertising in local record stores.[3]

Initially named Fish of the Day, the group were renamed after a gig at the Punter's Club, with Dempsey's Jack Russell dog, Kate, serving as the key inspiration.[3] They played two shows before they released a demo tape in 1995.[3] In early 1996, they were signed to the Sony subsidiary label Murmur Records[1] by A&R representative Chris Dunn—all of the members were 19 years old at the time.[3]

Something for Kate released their debut extended play, ....The Answer to Both Your Questions, in May 1996, which was followed by their debut single, "Dean Martin", in October.[1] Dempsey wrote or co-wrote all of the tracks on the EP.[1][2][3]

The band travelled to New Zealand to record their first album, Elsewhere for Eight Minutes, which was released in 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 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, was released on 7 June 1999, and peaked in the top 10 of the ARIA Album 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, released on 22 June 2001, is the band's third album and it reached No. 2 on the ARIA Album Chart.[9] Dempsey was voted the Best Male Vocalist by readers of Rolling Stone Australia magazine in the same year. The album, and associated material, were nominated for six ARIA Awards in 2001.[11] It eventually shipped more than 140,000 copies, thereby attaining double platinum status.

Dempsey subsequently 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 debuted at No. 5 on the ARIA Album Chart]]. 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]

In regard to the changes that the internet has had on the music industry, Dempsey said in November 2014:

A ton of things have changed and a ton of things haven’t changed. I think the only brand new hurdle is that most music is now simply there for the taking and a large proportion of the population seem disinclined to assign any value at all to the hard work and resources that went into creating it. Other than that, the only thing that matters is the only thing that’s ever mattered (in my opinion) and that is getting out there and playing your arse off in front of people anywhere you can, anytime you can. It’s better than radio, it’s better than the internet, it’s better than a review and it’s better for you and your band. If you want to be a musician, go be a musician. Be prepared to lose money and play to no one [but] hopefully it'll get better as you get better.[15]

Solo career[edit]

In 2007, Dempsey began writing material for his debut solo album. By 2009, he had commenced recording the album, titled Everything Is True, in Los Angeles with mix engineer-producer Doug Boehm—in April 2009, the process was complete. 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—the album was officially released on 14 August 2009 and peaked at No. 5 on the ARIA Album Chart.[16]

Dempsey and the album were nominated for three ARIA Awards in 2009: Best Male Artist, Best Adult Contemporary Album and Producer of the Year.[17] 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)[18] and named as one of the Best Albums of 2009 by Rolling Stone magazine.

Following the release of his solo album, Dempsey and Ashworth relocated to New York, US, 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]

Dempsey released a solo album of cover versions called Shotgun Karaoke on 4 October 2013), which reached No. 17 on the ARIA Album Chart.

In November 2014, Dempsey was continuing work on his second solo album.[15]

In 2009 Dempsey released a solo album, Everything Is True. Dempsey was involved in a band known as the Givegoods; other members included Evan Dando from The Lemonheads and Juanita Stein from Howling Bells (formerly Waikiki). The "supergroup" released a recording entitled, I Want to Kill a Rich Man, in 2003.[19] In 2007 Dempsey produced and played on Melbourne singer songwriter, Brendan Welch's album, "The Gleaner".[citation needed] Dempsey also produced an as-yet untitled album for Brisbane band Mosman Alder, due for release in 2014.[citation needed]

Other projects[edit]

In late 1997, Dempsey filled in as a guitarist for Brisbane band Fur, and Perth-based band Ammonia.[20] He also played drums for two Bluebottle Kiss shows and for his sister's band, John Smith. In 1998, he recorded an album of songs that he had written for a side project with other musicians called "Scared of Horses".

In 2003, he produced and played drums, bass, guitar and keyboards on The Givegoods' 2003 album, I Want to Kill a Rich Man. The Givegoods was the side project of Tom Morgan and Evan Dando (The Lemonheads).

Between 2006 and 2010, Dempsey produced the album The Gleaner for Melbourne singer-songwriter Brendan Welch. Dempsey played a variety of instruments on several of Melbourne dance artist T-Rek's albums, and contributed keyboards on Melbourne band The Nation Blue's album, Protest Songs.[21] 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.[22]

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", which was part of the Melbourne Festival and was held at The Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Dempsey played guitar and performed a duet with Stone, sang with Staples, and performed a rendition of "A Hard Rains Gonna Fall" with Australian singer-songwriter Shane Howard.[23]

In January 2014, Dempsey produced the debut album, Humdrum Star, for six-piece Brisbane band, Mosman Alder—the album was released on Dew Process Records.[15]

In late 2014, Dempsey commenced production work on a new album for Mike Noga, former drummer of The Drones. Based on the experiences of fellow musicians like Davey Lane (You Am I), Noga launched a Pozible campaign to pay for the anticipated recording costs of A$16,000. Noga explained seven days prior to the close of the campaign in late November 2014 that he asked Dempsey to produce the album:

Paul and I have been friends for many years now and we’ve discovered that we work pretty damn well together. I’m somewhat ‘loose’ when it comes to songwriting and he is the exact opposite, so put us together in a room and it all evens out quite nicely. He also knows a hell of a lot about recording equipment which I profess to know absolutely nothing about ... He hears things others don’t.[24]


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.[25] Dempsey appeared on RocKwiz again on Sat 8 June 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.[26][27][28] In 2010, the couple had relocated to New York City, for two years and Dempsey revealed his intention to return to the American city in a June 2013 interview.[14]

In a November 2014 interview conducted by Mosman Alder, Dempsey replied to a question about whether he believes in the possibility of a soul or an afterlife by saying, "No more than I believe in the 'possibility' of a tooth fairy"—the interviewer described him as "a man of science and a sinful heathen-atheist". Later in the interview, Dempsey said that he is a fan of the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, whose writing he has read, and whom he has seen in a live discussion with Brian Greene that was held in New York City.[15]




Extended plays[edit]

  • Counterfeits and Forgeries – EMI (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)
  • "Morningless" – EMI (4 February 2016)
  • "The Sky's Gone Missing" – littleBIGMAN/EMI (3 October 2018)

with Scared of Horses[edit]

with Something for Kate[edit]

with The Give Goods[edit]

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


  • McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Whammo Homepage". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-072-1. Archived from the original on 5 April 2004. Retrieved 23 February 2014. Note: Archived [on-line] copy has limited functionality.
  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. Archived from the original on 10 March 2013.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  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. Archived from the original on 6 July 2013. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  14. ^ a b c d Simon Collins (3 June 2013). "A tale of two cities for Dempsey". The West Australian. Archived from the original on 9 November 2013. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  15. ^ a b c d Mosman Alder (28 November 2014). "Artist on Artist: Mosman Alder Vs Paul Dempsey". Mess + Noise. Mess + Noise p/l. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  16. ^ a b c d Hung, Steffen. "Discography Paul Dempsey". Australian Charts Portal. Hung Medien (Steffen Hung). Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  17. ^ novanation (2009). "PAUL DEMPSEY". novanation. dmgRadio Australia. Archived from the original on 5 March 2014. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
  18. ^ "Solo project a chance to showcase the pure Paul". Australian Times. London. 26 April 2010. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
  19. ^ triple j (13 June 2003). "Givegoods". triple j. ABC. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
  20. ^ McFarlane, 'Ammonia' entry. Archived from the original on 3 August 2004. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  21. ^ Misselize (16 March 2010). "Paul Dempsey". Faster Louder. Faster Louder Pty Ltd. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  22. ^ Papa Vs Pretty (2010). "Recording EP with Paul Dempsey – VBlog 1". Vimeo. Vimeo, LLC. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  23. ^
  24. ^ Rose Johnstone (24 November 2014). "Melbourne muso Mike Noga is crowd-funding his third album". 'Bourne This Way by Time Out. Time Out Media. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  25. ^ HoneypotExplosion (4 November 2009). "Good News Week – Strange But True – Paul Dempsey". YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  26. ^ Newstead, Al (10 October 2012). "We chat with Paul Dempsey of Something For Kate". Tone Deaf. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
  27. ^ Fallon, Naomi (4 October 2012). "Back where they belong". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
  28. ^ Adams, Cameron (7 July 2011). "Something For Kate's Paul Dempsey". Herald Sun. Retrieved 29 May 2013.