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Paul Dempsey

From the moment She Will Have Her Way, the tribute album to Australia/New Zealand’s mighty Neil and Tim Finn, was announced, it seemed inevitable that a tour would one day follow. Many of Australia’s brightest female songstresses leant their interpretations to the album, and it’s amazing that it took five years to follow that up with a male counterpoint ( He Will Have His Way ). Luckily the tour was the next logical step, and the They Will Have Their Way tour (featuring male and female artists) will be making its way around the country in November. FasterLouder spoke to one of the male artists who will be lending his vocal talents, Paul Dempsey, about the tour, how he picked his cover, and what’s happening with that other band of his.

The tour includes three consecutive shows at the iconic Sydney Opera House, but this won’t be Dempsey’s first trip to that locale. Rather, it’s his home town shows which will be most memorable. “While it’s always exciting to play there [the Opera House], I’ve never played the Palais in Melbourne. I lived there for so long, and seen some incredible shows there, so it’s going to be amazing.”

And how did the tour come about? “The shows are being put together basically by the guy who put the albums together. He’s organising the backing band and playing the part of the promoter of the tour.” Since Dempsey will be flying in from New York, he hasn’t had much of a hand in organising this event, which is something different for him. “If it’s one of my own tours, or a Something For Kate tour, we’re extremely involved in every little detail. But this is more like being asked to play a festival – it’s someone else’s baby, and I’m just kind of happy to show up and play it.”

For his song on He Will Have His Way, Dempsey chose Addicted, which is the last song on Neil Finn’s first solo album, Try Whistling This. He wasn’t expecting a lot of competition for that one. “For the album, we were allowed to choose. From what I heard, a lot of people fought over the more well known songs, so I was pretty lucky to like Addicted.”

“It’s been a real favourite of mine from his whole cannon. The first time I heard it, I had a really strong feeling towards it. I really love that song, and even over time, I don’t think that love has diminished at all.”

And once again, being overseas, Dempsey didn’t have much involvement in the organising of the album. “Everyone just did it their own way. We were given a small budget to record a track any which way it works for us. So I recorded it over here and sent it back.”

On the tour, Dempsey will be joined by the likes of Sarah Blasko, Sally Seltman, Clare Bowditch, Holly Throsby, Lior, Alexander Gow and more. Of course, it doesn’t take a mathematician to see that that’s a lot less people than actually performed on the albums, which means some other songs could be up for grabs. I try to pry from Dempsey what other songs he’s hoping to get his hands on, but he’s too coy for that. “Unfortunately I really can’t say – I’m not sure what I’m allowed to say and what I’m not. I know they’ve distributed the songs a lot more generously – everyone gets to play five or six, but I can’t let the cat out of the bag on what they are.” Guess we’ll just have to head to the show to find out.

“All in all, I’m just really excited about it, to be playing these songs, and to collaborate with everyone involved. It’s kind of fun to make music with peers – these are people that I’ve met, and I know a little bit, because you see each other backstage, but you never really get to do anything with them.”

Dempsey’s easy-going charm comes across in the conversation – there’s no forced media personality, or attempts to impress. This everyday-man style is a feature of his live shows too, and Dempsey has spent the last couple of years plying his solo album over in the United States. And from all reports, the reception has been excellent. “There are always a handful of Australians [in the crowd] and that’s great. I guess they get to see me in places that are much smaller than I usually play. A lot of people come up and say ‘I thought I’d never see you in such a small venue.’

“But I guess that’s mostly New York, which is a big tourist town. I’ve also been doing the circuits – Atlanta to Milwaukee, and it’s not as often that Australians are in the audience at those shows.”

And what of Dempsey’s other little band? “We’ve been spending a lot of time on that as well, doing lots of writing here. We’re really keen to get in a room together and get things recorded – hopefully some time next year. I guess our attitude is to do it as soon as possible, but don’t force ourselves – we’ll know its ready when its ready.”

“I think at this stage the plan is to do it ourselves. We’ve kind of got the recording gear, the various bits and pieces that we need, and I’ve always dabble in engineering and mixing. I’m confident enough that we can get it all recorded ourselves, and then send it to someone to do a better mix.”

They Will Have Their Way – Finn Brothers tribute concert dates:
Saturday 5th November – The Palais, Melbourne
Sunday 6th November – The Palais, Melbourne
Monday 7th November – QPAC, Brisbane
Friday 11th November – Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide
Saturday 12th November – Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle
Wednesday 16th November – Sydney Opera House, Sydney
Thursday 17th November – Sydney Opera House, Sydney
Friday 18th November – Sydney Opera House, Sydney

Paul Dempsey solo dates:
Wednesday 2nd November – The Annandale, Sydney
Thursday 3rd November – The Annandale, Sydney

Comments arrow left

gumbuoy said on the 31st Oct, 2011

Unsurprisingly, I heart this.


oldgregg said on the 31st Oct, 2011

be honest, how many times did he have to say 'no you can't have my home address', before you gave up? :D

Jose Cuervo

Jose Cuervo said on the 31st Oct, 2011

Forgot this was on this week, excellent


gumbuoy said on the 31st Oct, 2011

many, many times.

at least it wasnt as bad as last time. I'd interviewed Steph from the band two months beforehand, and she'd said he was working on a solo album, so I asked him about it, and his response was, "Did she now?" Oops.

Scooter mcgavin

Scooter mcgavin said on the 31st Oct, 2011

Paul was dominant as ever at the corner the other night. Played a solid 2 hour set, with a brilliant Bowie cover and about 3 or 4 new sfk songs.


gumbuoy said on the 31st Oct, 2011

yeah i cant wait to see him at the end of the month - he plays the night before i fly out of the country...

i always want to bootleg the new songs - they're always completely different by the time they get recorded that the first glimpse is like a completely different song that you'll never hear again.