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Something For Kate

Something For KateCelebrating their 20th anniversary, Something For Kate stop by the Astor Theatre this Friday, July 4. Frontman, Paul Dempsey, will also perform a sold-out solo show at the Fly By Night on Saturday,
July 5. LACHLAN KANONIUK reports.

20 years strong, trio Something For Kate have reigned in alternative rock where others have faded, still burning bright as a preeminent force across Australia’s musical landscape.

A good reason to celebrate, and celebrate they will. To coincide with their two decades of existence, the band will reissue each of their six full-length LPs, publish the book Paper Trail, and set off on an ambitious nationwide tour – each night consisting of two Something For Kate sets, preceded by a screening of a short film. Speaking ahead of the landmark celebrations, taller-than-life frontman, Paul Dempsey, takes a long gaze yonder to the beginning.

“I’m probably the least sentimental person you’ll ever meet,” Dempsey states. “Looking back to these things, I find it interesting and funny, where we were at different points in our career and different points in our lives. Having been in a band for 20 years, you kind of grow up in public a bit. I was 17 when we started, and that’s pretty young. I guess it’s more commonplace now, but at the time it was pretty unusual to be 17 and being approached by record labels. I certainly felt like I was a very young person in a big industry. It made me really nervous.

“Looking back at some of the stuff, it’s funny to read interviews when I was 19 and basically I was being a grumpy little bastard, basically because I was scared. I felt vulnerable. But it’s amazing to chart how you change, and how we’ve arrived at the band we are today, and the people we are today. It’s been an interesting process.”

Performing two sets on each night of the upcoming tour, neglected gems will no doubt be pulled up from the back catalogue. It’s an uncanny process for Dempsey, but bassist, Stephanie Ashworth, and drummer, Clint Hyndman, might require a slight stretch up before taking a jog down memory lane.

“I can pretty much play anything from our back catalogue at the drop of a hat. I guess that’s because I’m the main songwriter and the songs have had a lot more time gestating in my brain so I don’t forget them too easily. But Clint and Steph had to do some homework. We’ve been rehearsing already and it’s come together surprisingly well. We’d play these songs a couple of times and they became second nature. There are probably 15 songs that we’ve started rehearsing that haven’t been played possibly in this century.”

After a sorta-hiatus, which saw Dempsey release a well-received solo album, Something For Kate returned stronger than ever with 2012’s Leave Your Soul To Science.

“We didn’t know what was going to happen,” Dempsey recalls. “We certainly didn’t assume there were a whole lot of people out there dying for a new Something For Kate record. But luckily it turned out great. I think the best thing about it was that I seemed to have carved out a new audience with my solo record, this whole new young audience who I’m not sure if they put two-and-two together and knew I was in a band called Something For Kate.

“So then when we put out Lose Your Soul To Science, our crowd totally changed. Clint and Steph were taking the piss outta me when I did my solo record, because Something For Kate’s audience were predominantly guys close to our age, then suddenly after the solo record, the Something For Kate audience was suddenly more than 50 per cent 20-year-old girls. It’s kind of funny to watch our audience change.

“The other funny thing about being around for 20 years is that I’ve literally met 18 year-olds at our shows who weren’t born when we started, and their parents were fans. We now have people coming to shows with their parents who have been listening to us for 20 years. It’s an amazing and special thing.”

Needless to say, the musical climate has changed over the past two decades. Could Something For Kate survive if they found their genesis now instead of 1994? “I’m not sure if we could. In a lot of ways, it’s easier to reach an audience these days. It might seem to be easier to get on the radio and get successful. But it seems to me like it’s harder to hang on to that success and make it last. There are still bands with big albums and long tours and that kind of success. But that longevity seems like a much more difficult proposition. I don’t know why that is.

“Attention spans are shorter than they used to be. I think social media makes it easier for people to be judge, jury, executioner and music critic. Social media can be really helpful to promote things, but it’s also a really nasty place. I don’t know if we could achieve the same sort of things… fuck, I dunno. It’s a tough one.”

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