INTERVIEW: PAUL DEMPSEY RETURNS TO THE KINGDOM TO PLAY FAT CONTROLLER

Paul Dempsey’s latest solo album Strange Loop is one of our favourites here at The Upside News and we are thrilled he’s returning to Adelaide to play it for us.

Playing Fat Controller on June 8, the Something for Kate frontman is touring the new single ‘Blindspot’ from the album.

Last time we spoke to Paul, he talked us through the songs on the album, which he says have evolved through touring them with his band.

“When I recorded the album it was really just a product of me by myself in a room, writing all the parts and playing all the instruments, so it was a very solitary, insular kind of process. And even right through to the end of the recording session, because I literally did it all myself,” he says.

“So going from that to putting together a five piece band and taking the album out on the road and playing the songs as part of a group has really breathed a whole different kind of life into the material. And the way we interpret these songs live now as part of this band is a really different thing. The songs feel quite different. Some of the PD-splash-sold-out-copyunexpected ones have turned out to be the ones that are really enjoyable to play live because of the way the other guys, and girl, lend their parts. And everyone’s made the parts their own.

“So now they don’t feel so insular and individual, they feel like the songs that belong to this group, if that makes sense? A song like ‘Strange Loop’ is incredibly fun to play live; there’s a part where Olympia and I have this fuzz guitar solo. And in songs like ‘The True Sea’, by the end of that the five of us are kind of going a bit nuts, and making a whole racket on stage. And then there’s other really quiet moments where it’s almost like the five of us are challenging each other to play as quietly as possible. So it’s great, it’s gone from being a real solo effort to being a real group thing.

Arguably one of the country’s greatest songwriters, Paul composes from a place of deep creativity, rather than constructing a song for sales value, despite the fact that he writes incredibly listenable songs.

“It’s a weird dichotomy as a song-writer, or as any creative artistic person, when you’re working on something you’re trying as hard as you can to not think of who the potential viewer or listener is, because you don’t want that to affect the purity of what you are trying to express,” he says.

“You don’t want any thoughts of an audience to compromise the artistic nature of what you are doing. But at the same time you can’t not be somewhat aware of it. It’s a bit of an internal battle, that those thoughts do enter your head, but then you’ve to push that aside. But I don’t recall a time when I was writing these songs that I thought ‘people are going to think this’ or ‘people are going to feel that’, because you don’t really know. I always say to myself when I’m working that you’re actually kidding yourself if you think you know how people are going to react to it.”

The new single ‘Blindspot’, on which the tour is based, is about intellectual stimulation and temptation, as Paul explains.

“In the simplest interpretation it’s a love song. It’s about just being really into someone’s brain, being really into the way someone thinks and finding someone’s thirst for knowledge to be the sexiest thing about them,” he says. “There’s enough songs about the way people look or people’s bodies, people’s physicality, and I wanted to write a song about someone’s mind.

“I was thinking about the story of Eve taking the apple from the tree of knowledge, which was the thing that sort of damned everybody – it’s a rejection of that. There is nothing greater and more exciting than asking questions and wanting to discover, wanting to explore and find things out. That is what attracts me to anyone really, their brain. Give into the temptation to ask questions, I say!”

Renowned for his excellent covers of, often unlikely, songs, we asked if this tour would feature any covers, or would mainly focus on Strange Loop.

“We always throw in a cover or two just to shake up the vibe of the set,” Paul explains. “But there’ll be plenty of stuff from both my solo records and a couple of other weird things just to pick up the vibe. We’ll pull together a different setlist from last time.”

And speaking of cover songs, Paul Dempsey recently did a Middle Kids track on triple j’s Like a Version, which has smashed over 200k views on YouTube.

 

“I love Middle Kids,” Paul says.” I’ve been listening to that EP since it came out and there’s not a bad song on it. They’re just a really impressive band and really great songwriters. They may be new and up and coming but shit, they know how to write a song. ‘Edge of Town’, has been out for about a year now, and I remember the first time I heard it, I was blown away.

“I think it’s a really beautiful song and I wanted to give it a crack because I’ve loved it since it came out. When I do covers I only want to do something that I genuinely love so much that I feel like I can genuine put myself into it. So with that song I didn’t have to look up the words, I knew them by heart and knew every note of the song so it’s just really fun to do.”

Performing at a venue he hasn’t played before, Paul is thrilled to be heading back to a city he loves to play Fat Controller on Thursday night.

“I love Adelaide, it’s the Kingdom. Brisbane gets to Bris-vegas, Sydney gets to be Sin-city, and I thought Adelaide deserved its own special mystique, so it was about 15 years ago that we started referring to it as the Kingdom of Adelaide, just to give it a bit of mystique and a bit of grandeur of its own, and it just sort of stuck, it’s the Kingdom,” he explains. “We’ve always had great shows in Adelaide, the crowds have always been really supportive of Something For Kate and me. It’s going to be good. And I haven’t been to this venue either, so it’s going to be interesting to play in a new venue.”

There are still tickets available for Paul Dempsey’s Blindspot Tour so grab them now and enjoy an evening with Paul at Fats.

By Libby Parker

Photo by Dan Boud