Of all the Aussie alt-rock bands that swept through in the mid-1990s, the one named after pet-food on a shopping list would have seemed least likely for longevity. But nearly 20 years on, Something for Kate are still going strong, with album number six, Leave Your Soul To Science, to be released soon. And frontman Paul Dempsey says fans can expect something quite different from their new album.
“I think it’s very different. It’s a lot more sonically adventurous, and has a really different feel. Plus, we made it in about half the time. We did everything the opposite of how we’ve done it in the past. We were a lot more relaxed, and really willing to experiment and screw around and commit to things done in the moment. It was all done very live, and very by-the-seat-of-our-pants, and I think you can hear that.”
It was the first time in the studio for the band since 2006’s Desert Lights, but Dempsey’s double platinum, ARIA-nominated solo album Everything Is True was recorded in 2009, and you’d think he might have felt a little lost giving up some of the control he had for that album. But it turns out, the opposite is the case.
“It was great just being a guitar player and singer again,” he says. “Just having Stephanie (Ashworth, bass) and Clint (Hyndman, drums) and having their opinions, and not having to think of everything myself. Sometimes, making a solo record, you don’t know what to do next, and if you’re unsure about something, you are on your own with it. It’s great being in a band situation, you can talk it out, and come to a result. Plus, I love the way Clint plays drums, and Steph plays bass, and we did this really live, and it was nice to just have the three of us play again.”
First single “Survival Expert” has hit the radio, and it’s a far cry from the jagged guitar rock of “Electricity” and “Cigarettes and Suitcases”, or the smooth dark pop of “Monsters” or “Déjà vu”. “It’s a really different choice of single for us. It’s certainly not the most immediate or catchy song on the album, but then that wasn’t what we were looking for when choosing a single. It’s a song that doesn’t really have a chorus, or any kind of regular formula.
“But the reception to it has been really positive, from what I can tell. And the people who have heard the record, they all say it’s our best album yet. At first they say, ‘Wow, it’s different’, but after three to five listens, they say it’s the best thing we’ve done.”
Dempsey and his cohorts are some of the unlikeliest Australian music veterans, and he doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking back. “I don’t really feel like a veteran of anything. I’m obviously really happy to be doing this after so long. I think the thing that keeps me going is that our best music is still ahead of us. The reason I would stop is if I didn’t feel like I was getting better at it.”
The Australian music industry is a very different place to the one he encountered as a 20-year-old recording his first EP, and Dempsey knows where the biggest change has taken place. “There have always been great bands and artists in Australia. The difference is now it seems a lot easier to make music at home, really great-sounding stuff. And then the internet means people can reach an audience in a lot of different ways. I think it’s better for artists now.”